7 Tips To Know Before You Start Your Design School

Perhaps, it’s your first day at your D School. You are embarking on a journey to turn yourself into a design professional. Whether you imagine yourself as an Industrial designer, Textile designer, Communication designer, Space designer or any of those sought after newest design roles that the emerging industry is looking out for, here are 7 Tips to know before you start your design school.

1. Objective

“Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes”, you might have heard this many times, however this is the “moment of change” for you. All this while you have been assuming the role of as a consumer. Remember the last time you saw a movie, used a road signage, bought clothes for yourself, used a computer, rode a bike or moved into a new home. You were consuming what has been meant for you. Now the time has come to switch to the other side, perhaps from being a consumer to being a designer (creator). You have to learn to switch these roles quiet often unlike your previous self.

“Design is Change”, your objective is to bring about change. Most importantly positive change. While there could be a limitation on how much you can change, there is NO limitation on setting up a goal for yourself to bring about this change.

You can inspire few people around you, make a tiny change in the way a team thinks about a solution, then you are on your way, perhaps bringing change to corporations, states and the world at large.

So, set your objective as – “Be the change-agent the world is looking for”

2. How tough is the design profession ?

In my opinion, the design profession is one of the toughest to be in.

A designer is called in, mostly when there is a problem. Problems are your fuel. The more challenging the problem is, the more you are needed. So, if you are one of those who hate to confront problems, think twice before you move on.

Perhaps, there will not be a single day where you question that “something isn’t right “. You will have to find new means to achieve things overtime and you will have to fail multiple times before you perfect something acceptable. Above this, you have to convince others that you are doing the right thing. And beyond this, after doing all these hard tasks, you find your competitor beating you with a better product/ solution.

Therefore, the problem never ends. I hope you love problems 🙂

3. Impact !!

The sweetness of all this trouble is the “Impact” that this hard work delivers. In the design profession, you deal with future issues, you are more proactive compared to other professions where you might have to deal with current issues.

You can bring impact through – Value-Creation, where you optimise resources to deliver value beyond expectation. Bringing synergy in your solutions.

You can bring impact through – Transformation, where you can make big leaps in the way solutions and services are delivered.

You can bring impact through – Regeneration, where you can not only stay sustainable, but regenerate by fixing problems created in the past.

So, lets acknowledge our ability to bring generational impact on the lives of people, the society and our planet.

4. What is exciting about this profession?

As a design professional, you are in the centre of all these resources and stake holders, and you are tasked to find the best-fit-for-all, and this is absolutely exciting, isn’t it? You amalgamate these resources based on the needs of several stakeholders to deliver value and benefit for all, eventually building a successful solution.

Another exciting thing about this profession is your ability to understand every stake-holder as if they were you. You often have to put yourself in the other’s shoe to understand their needs. It is so exciting to discover different perspectives and POVs (point of view) for the same problem.

This is one profession where your are paid to groom yourself into a multi-faceted individual, where you have tremendous insights about things around.

Don’t you agree ?

5. Some guard-rails to look out for.

Being mindful in every decision you make. Because, your decisions will have some amount of impact on society, sustainability and our future.

Being ethical in your thoughts and design philosophy.

Be collaborative in your actions, as that’s the only way to bring synergy.

Ensure positivity in the results, because thats what really matters.

6. Develop these traits during your journey.

Good Perception – As a design professional, it is important to have the ability to perceive things differently. While a consumer sees an object by its function, a designer sees it as a potential resource for something else.

Visual Sensitivity – Being sensitive to cultural preferences, emerging trends, influences and how it is perceived by the changing society is an important trait one could have.

Value focused – Another good trait to have is to constantly chase value in everything we do. If there is no value, there is no design.

Positive Critique – A consumer can be a tough critique, but a designer needs to go beyond and become a positive critique. Someone, may say something is not right, but also recommends how you could mend it.

Design thinking – Even though this is a common term these days among designers, it hard to be good design thinker. Just by being in a design profession doesn’t guarantee this trait. Design thinking is the ability to diverge ideas without judgement and converge into solutions that are practical. This is a simple technique you can master by practice.

Social Sensitivity – Empathy, Inclusivity, Sustainability and Circularity are few ideas that you have to take into consideration as a designer and live by example.

Learning attitudes – We would recommend to “learn what matters”, not what’s interesting. Many a times, you will be required to understand subjects that you hate but probably matters to your solution. If you don’t learn them and apply it, someone else will. Thus depriving you of the opportunity. So there is no way you can pass this learning.

7. Where can I learn this from.

While your D-school may give you the right foundation and teach you subjects related to design (it is like a classroom lecture on how to swim), you may require a much more hands-on practical means to learn applied-design throughout your professional life. However, this hands-on approach is not a shortcut to the foundation (D-School), hence stay focus while in D-School.

Products and Experience : What I have realised in the last two decades of my career is that the best teachers to teach design are the products around you. Good or bad. The phone that you use, the APP that you interact, the space that you adore, all of these have lessons to teach.

Theses objects and experiences are a manifestation of enormous amount of thought, discussions, design and decision making that have gone into making them. They are a witness of effort gone by. So if you have the eye to learn from them, they are free resources that are available all the time around you.

People and their profession : Another great way to learn is from people who you interact and see on a day to day basis. The garbage collector with their implements, the gardener and their tools and several others like these have lessons to teach about design. Whenever you meet a vendor or a supplier, create a circumstance for them to talk about what they know which could be helpful while you are thinking about a solution. They will be able to teach you lessons worth years of their learning within few minutes of your interaction.

Design Process : Though many in D-school may teach you the design-process, evolve out a process based on your own experience to deal with your design problem in your unique manner and pave the way for others to get inspired by your work.


In a nutshell, it’s a grind. It’s fun. It’s exciting. It’s impactful. It’s rewarding. But to keep it going, keep your passion alive. Then you can guarantee yourself that your don’t have to work the rest of your life while in your design profession.

Disclaimer : This text is an excerpt from the short address given by Shanavas M S (Design Director – Teqzo Consulting) at the Inaugural Day even at JAIN (Deemed-to-be-University) School of Design, Media and Creative Arts – Bangalore, India.