Interview with Swapnil Chaudhari
Red Dot Design Award-Winning Industrial Designer & Founder SCD Innovations India
Swapnil is the first Indian industrial designer to win the prestigious RED DOT AWARD 2018: DESIGN CONCEPT in Industry-Pharma Machine Category for PRO-CHECK 200FF Capsule Checkweigher. Pro-check 200FF has not remained just as a concept; it has been successfully launched and is in demand in the current market.
Swapnil had a knack for tinkering with bike chains, brakes, and magnets from a very young age. He completed his BE degree in mechanical engineering and was happy to be able to implement his learning in practice. He knew he wanted to push his own boundaries and create inspiring, exciting things instead of just remaining a cog in a chain. He got into MIT Institute of Design in Pune and completed his PG Diploma in Industrial design and found his true calling. At the age of 27, Swapnil traded his promising engineering career for a new world in industrial design. Since then, he has been designing a wide range of products for masses.
1. How do you approach design?
Design for me is like a problem-solving tool. First, we have to understand the problem, and once we do, we develop a solution. While you are focusing and working on the problem, you automatically move forward towards the direction of possible solutions. The progress itself isn’t about the destination, but about the journey. For me, each product has a journey.
I take inspiration from Indian culture and its diversities. Everything is constantly changing, and we need to understand the notion of the market. I blend product ideas with current technology to stay with the current trends. Optimization today is the need of time. I aim to cater to genuine needs of people with human-centred design.
“The US is the land of opportunity; India is the land of possibility. “
In India, there are a lot of possibilities once you understand the demography of a developing country. With a vast nation like ours, there are a lot of opportunities for problem-solving. We also have a lot of resources; we can develop products for every need and occasion. Once we understand the global demand and requirements, we can develop it locally.
2. Where do you find inspiration for your work?
As an industrial designer, my inspiration comes from Minimalistic design, i.e. Minimalism. That means “Less is the future” supposed to be the approach which resonates strongly along with the goal of conscious consumption.
Dieter Rams, an acclaimed German designer influenced me a lot throughout my design life.
My philosophy is that design is not for the few, but for all of us, we are global citizens. But if you ask me about inspiration in my products, then each one has got some flavour about the Indian culture and its diversities. Creating smart, ecological and sustainable design is vital to create a better future on Earth. In my opinion, repurposing should be at the top of the drive of all designers.
3. What type of products do you design?
I have designed a wide arena of products starting from small cervical collar to mammoth size pharmaceutical machines. In User Experience Design (UX), I have been developing apps for future electro-mobility [EV] and applications related to human-machine interface (HMI). Also, I have designed an entire range of pharmaceutical machines for a leading pharmaceutical machines manufacturing company in India.
4. How do you see the future of design?
The future of design should be immersive, inclusive of working with artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality and all modern technology yet to be developed.
Today technology is moving extremely fast, the curve is steep, and we need to manage design and technology together. At the same time, it is vital to connect business with technology and design together. Design should complement smart business ideas, and when it all works in harmony, it can be sustainable, profitable and complementary to each other. Great ideas worth nothing if you can’t implement them as part of a viable business plan. The products have to be scalable and sellable.
When creators think about products or markets without connecting the two together, the outcome most likely fails to deliver according to the expectations.
5. Are you redesigning existing products or creating new ones?
My focus is to create new products and not things that already exist in the world. I aim to replace high-cost, unnecessary items and develop (whenever possible eco-friendly) products that are focusing on solving an existing problem but in a very different way, and for less money.
My design approach highly focuses on accessibility – I design for the mass, affordability for all: a unique business model where billions of people can purchase the product. I create a frugal design that covers the basic requirements of the humankind.
6. What is your recommendation for Hubbers creators?
“Human first, product next.”
Product design is something which you do in a backward direction. It’s something like a retro process. Firstly, you plan your outcome, in all the aspects, i.e. human needs, consequences, business model, disposal, future scope for improvisation.
Then in the further steps, you would be planning the processes, interfaces, materials, limitations etc. When you are ready with the groundwork, the design process starts -which becomes pretty easy and level-headed in all the aspects.
Minimalism and optimization are the spice of the ERA.
Plan your actions ahead to use limited resources when creating and using a product. When developing technologies, consider our depleting natural resources. An inspiring example is the Circular Design Principal: you create a product, use it, and once it is old and outdated, you repurpose it for another, new use.
In an ideal future, we will have an “energy label” on every product we sell or purchase. Currently, the labels show what particular energy the product uses when in use, but that is not enough. In an energy-conscious world, we should have listed on the labels all the natural resources used to create that specific product.
7. What is the future of User Experience Design (UXD) in the context of Industrial Design?
UX design is much more than a buzzword. It's like a cherry on top, in the world of design. UX design acts like a bridge which connects humans and machines. UXD and industrial design are different spheres, but when they come hand-in-hand, it is beyond serendipity. It not only gives life to the creations but also helps meet (and positively beat) user needs. I feel today it's an era where "experience" is the centrepiece of digital transformation for any organisation. No doubt this new amalgamation of aesthetics, technology and experience can be used as a driving force to unlock creativity in infinite ways.
Experience-Driven Design (EDD):
Next-Gen connected products which blend digital and physical design are the chartbusters in the tech and design world. Besides the development of digital applications, not only products and the way we interact are rapidly changing, but also, slowly our dependency over them is increasing.
As an industrial designer designing an aesthetically appealing form isn't the end of our job. Now we have to seamlessly integrate the interaction points of the physical form along with a flat digital interface.
Future is Phygital:
Phy-gital, as its name implies, is the blend of the digital planet along with the physical state. After all, Phygital Experience Design (PED) is the newest normal thing. The awakening of neophiliac, digital engagements, personalisation and omnichannel communication. This not only resonates and delights the end-user, but also evolves from being a novelty to an expectation. I feel this is an emerging UX ecology of countless opportunities. The future is all about inventing relevant, engaging, emotive products to build customer trust and drive the company's sales growth.
Swapnil is an expert in design research, industrial design, system and design thinking, visualization, engineering, product creation, and user experience.