As Design Center Manager for Philips Design in Bangalore, Abhimanyu Kulkarni has the opportunity to inspire a team to create iconic products that are synonymous with the company
How have things changed during your long association with Philips?
AK: Organizations like Philips know how to change with the times. That’s their secret sauce for long term success and sustainability. Philips has changed over the last 25 years, and with it I have changed too. I started working as a product designer for Philips in Mumbai, at a big design studio led by Kumar Nadig. We used to render product concepts on Canson paper using chalks. I spent weeks learning to make realistic renderings under my seniors. Once these concepts were vetted by the management, we would turn them into engineering drawings using Rotring pens on Gateway paper. Because we didn’t have any computer software back then, we had to visualize their 3D forms in our head, draw cross-sections, specify joinery, etc. It was back-breaking work and I have to say, at the time, I wasn’t too kicked about it. It was only later that I realized how tremendously useful that practice was in training my mind to think in three dimensions and to understand the role of light, material, texture in defining product form.
Compare that to today. Almost everything I just said has undergone change. We work in agile teams alongside our business and development colleagues, so there is no more of this ‘throw your deliverables over the wall’ attitude. Long before we get into actual product concepts, now we do a ‘product discovery’ phase where we interview users and our stakeholders to define the requirements. The role of design has changed from designing the esthetic skin to helping to develop the entire proposition. Then there is technology in design - although we still encourage our designers to sketch by hand, everything can be and is done on computers. That means speed, avoidance of handover errors and better quality. One thing that has remained unchanged is the need for a creative mind that constantly strives to make things better and has a thirst for the new.
I am currently Design Center manager for the Philips Design team in India. Our studio is located in the Philips Innovation Campus in Bangalore.
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