NID’s design labs to be introduced across three campuses

Labs intend to harmonise process of design evolution for students across disciplines

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'Universal design' is the buzzword for students of the city-based National Institute of Design (NID) at the moment. Their 'universal design labs', intended to harmonise the process of design evolution for students across disciplines, will be introduced, beginning this academic year, at all the three campuses of the institute, i.e. in Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar and Bangalore.

These universal design labs have been created to cater to students irrespective of their branch of design, to evolve products that will make life easier for all kinds of people, their age, sex, gender and physical capacities notwithstanding.

All set to introduce this new facility, NID has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a university of applied sciences in Berlin, called Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft (HTW). The agreement will facilitate students' exchange and faculty sharing in the area of universal design.

Elaborating on these design labs, NID director Pradyumna Vyas said, "NID's faculty and students have been working individually and independently on universal design until now. But with the presence of a dedicated lab, there will be a group of people who will be continuously working in the area, taking it as a super specialisation."

He said that their lab is a means to expose their students, across disciplines, to a better understanding of universal design. "Experts in the universal design labs will assist the students in their projects towards inclusive design. The initiative also aims to create a new breed of responsible designers who are sensitised towards social and environmental issues."

The new lab will also function as a knowledge bank of universal design process, provide special equipment for testing psychological and physiological aspects of the designed products, and encourage and facilitate students to design in a way that their products cater to people of all ages, and even the differently abled.

The origin of the universal design labs traces to the existing Jamshedji Tata design research chair for universal design at NID, and will be assisted by the institute's ergonomics lab. Of the three NID campuses, the Bangalore one will be the first to have the lab.

Faculty of NID in Bangalore and coordinator of the new universal design labs, Ravishankar V, said, "We will begin with research to understand the whole domain of universal design and its requirements, and how to give a better quality of life across diversity." While the labs will have visiting faculty from HTW in Germany, the institute's graduates like Abir Mullick, who is now a professor of industrial design at Georgia Institute of Technology, will also be visiting during the initial phase.

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