A Comprehensive Overview of the Past, Present & Future of Design

The concept of expressing information through design had been prevalent in global societies since the ancient times. However, it was only in 1836 that design was accepted and approved as an independent academic discipline. Since then, people associated with the field have been known to create visual solutions to communicate ideas and information. Another common perception about professional designers is that they are capable of solving diverse design problems for different niches. These might include problems related to branding, advertising, packaging and even more recent digital issues.

Thankfully this perception has been changing gradually over the past few decades. The need for developing more focused design solutions for problems related to different niches has been a major driving factor behind this change. In fact, this has resulted in some prominent changes in design practice and education at top design schools in India, especially over the past 30 years. Discussed below are the various aspects of these changes to help gain a clearer understanding of the evolution of design and its future.

Past: An Era of Multi-tasking

An Era of Multi-tasking

Although design had already gained recognition as an independent academic discipline, the proper theory was still not available to aspiring professionals even by the mid-twentieth century. That is why the professional designers of 50’s and 60’s were defined as self-taught. The lack of proper education in the field was so rampant that, in a country like Argentina, even by late 80’s, the discipline was categorized according to the material of the final product. Thus, graphic design was categorized as print design, print design as 3D objects, the textile design was associated with clothes and environmental design was related to green/open spaces.

Due to this lack of proper education options, students did not have much choice in terms of pursuing the specific sub-design course. In most institutes offering education in the field, it was common for the design departments to be headed by professional architects, with the role of responsibility of teaching and mentoring resting on the shoulders of young designers. In fact, the concept of multi-task designers was still quite common by the early 2000’s. It was extremely rare to find designers interested in specializing in a specific sub-area within this extremely vast field.

Present: An Era of Specialization

An Era of Specialization

In the recent years, the demand for design professionals choosing more specific expertise and skills has grown by significant margins. Consequently, there has also been an increase in Interior Design Colleges in India and other parts of the country, offering specialization programs in sub-design disciplines. The present times have seen the evolution of service design, digital design, information design, user experience design, surface design and communication design emerging as independent niches. Moreover, the designers today are expected to have a complete understanding of various disciplines not necessarily related to design. This makes them capable of developing the most effective solutions for increasingly complex problems and challenges that the designers face in this era.

Another factor that is contributing towards the growth of design industry is the phenomenal increase in the number of areas where its solutions are implemented. In most cases, the designers need to use the knowledge and skills of multiple sub-design disciplines to come up with the most effective design solutions. With the end-users having become an important part of the problem-solving process, its various stages are based on social analysis as well as quantitative and qualitative research. This has led to a trend of professional designers craving a unique identity for themselves in accordance with the sub-design discipline they choose to specialize in.

Future: An Era of Consolidation

An Era of Consolidation

Going by the current trends, it is being proposed that some of the developing sub-design disciplines might become consolidated in the future. There is also an expectation of a significant rise in the multi and interdisciplinary projects which is likely to require the inclusion of sub- design departments even within organizations that are not related to the design field in any manner. Such consolidation will also result in an increase in the demand for higher levels of design expertise amongst professionals. These professionals will be required to not only have a clear understanding of the basic design concepts but must possess specific skills to meet the needs and overcome the design challenges of the specific industries they are working in.

In order to meet the changing needs and demands of the design industry, the education offered in the field is also likely to undergo a significant change. The concept of universal education programs rendered through the top Product Design Colleges in India is likely to become extremely common. These programs will help in establishing the proper base for the growing sub-design disciplines. Overall, the future seems to hold a great scope for the growth and evolution of the design industry. In fact, if current trends were to be considered, expert design professionals specializing in specific sub-disciplines and offering high-quality solutions, will be in great demand across multiple industries.