Expert Speak: What ails Interior Designing in India?
The field of Interior Designing, like is the norm, has seen numerous changes; be it in its aesthetics, its style or the message it wants to deliver. And, what about the scene in India? Gautam Shah, a highly revered academician, and Architect weighs in on the trajectory of Interior Designing’s journey; what ails it and what should aspiring students do. Gautam Shah is a consultant Interior Designer based at Ahmedabad, India, since 1970, and a highly respected former faculty member, School of Interior Design – Faculty of Design, CEPT University, Ahmedabad. His blogs on Interior Designing and Architecture are among the most widely read literature on these topics.
Design Education took a strong hold in India post-1975. But since then has seen many pulls and pushes by diverse design experts. Even though the field was vast and untapped, real assignments were few. There is a lot of overlapping of expertise for the sake of economic survival, for the sake of opportunities available to small design organizations and a severe lack of production and prototype workshops.
Architects, Product designers and Industrial (mechanical-electrical and electronic) designers, all transgress to furniture, interior design and graphics field. Assignments occurred on personal contact and comfort. Clients do not bother to check the individual’s professional capacity to handle a project. When one checks the Portfolios of executed work, presentation consists of huge variety, but all unrelated and without any thematic base.
This is happening because design institutions offer everything for everyone. There is no core ideology or vision, as directors and heads are mere administrators. There is no prudence in using the Government aided-granted resources. For design institutions that receive money for specific work, virtually no audit of research, design solutions or publications is ever made. A 1000 page report submitted by a group of craft related experts contained just 25 pages of the proposal, rest was a survey of existing conditions. A Government official said I have more and better data in my files.
Interior Designing field is facing slightly different problems. The institutions were operated by artists, sculptors, and hobbyists, and taught essentially drawing and rendering skills (now replaced by CAD tools and computer based graphics). The courses run for a few months to a few years duration. Longer courses offer photocopies from books like Interior Design Standards and some schools even arrange fashion shows for Interior Design students! Home science departments of some universities teach Housekeeping, repairing of gadgets (of past generation like irons, toasters, ovens). A NCR-based institution was teaching Soil mechanics and Land surveying to Interior Design students. In this world of multifariousness come the officially approved courses in Interior Architecture. But ask the approving and course conducting authorities, and they cannot differentiate ‘Interior from Architecture’. A seasoned ‘architecture’ academician claimed that Interior Design begins at the electric switch layout level (… and perhaps ends there ?).
I ask all my students after five years of Full time Design course in a good school, one is quite ready to start Design Practice. Do not go for a post graduate back up. One or two good projects are better than a Master’s degree. Start young, start early.