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A Brief History & a Slice of the Future

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"A Brief History & a Slice of the Future"

-Mileha Soneji

This essay is a description of my achievements and a part of what I believe in and aim for. I assure you that there is much more to me once one gets to know me. But as it is rightly said, this essay is the best form of insight into my life, so I am going to try my best to bring myself to life through it.

The most prominent decision in my life was pursuing my further studies in the field of Design after Std. XII, when everyone I knew was headed towards Medical or Engineering. The reason I took up Design was because I knew I had a flair for sketching and also a mind that was always curious to understand and solve problems. Getting through the MIT entrance exam convinced me (and my parents who supported me throughout in spite of this being a field unheard of) that I had made the right decision.

Publilius Syrus says, "No pleasure endures unseasoned by variety," and I have lived by this quote my entire life. As a child, I enjoyed learning new things and involving myself in a variety of extra-curricular activities. This is one of the major reasons I am glad to be a Designer by profession. Design can be a part of any field medicine, engineering, advertising, films, architecture and the list goes on. A designer not only has to be adept with the on goings in these fields but also has to be a manager to bring the product to the production level as well as have good marketing skills to sell it. Being a designer always keeps me on my toes.

Design was always my main stream and priority but in order to hold a degree I also studied Bachelor of Arts, specialising in English Literature, in correspondence from Pune University, India. What started as a pursuit to get only a degree ended up holding my interest and wanting me to continue learning English Literature. Hence, I am currently pursuing Master of Arts in English and working with Visteon as an Industrial Designer.

I have had an excellent academic record throughout and stood fourth in the school during the X Std exams. I was also voted the Vice-Head girl and eventually the Head Girl of the school. I started honing my managing skills since my early years, managing the school, the various school events, the student council and also being the link between the students and the teachers. Managing the student body was no lesser than running a company.

I made an effort to continue being a part of the change during my undergraduate life as well. I proposed a plan for a new event in "Quasar" our design festival and also headed the entire event. It was one of the major events that lasted all the days of the festival. The event needed to be sold to the core committee initially but in spite of the hiccups the event was a major hit and continued to be a part of the festival for the next 3 years of my college life (of which I headed it for 2 years) where it was enhanced and modified further. This event involved designing the event for larger crowds, promotion of the event in other colleges, getting enrollments, budgeting, accruing the materials, sponsors and finally its execution. In short the event involved a complete design process along with a good strategy.

A game designing competition held in DSK saw my group winning the first position among more than 10 groups from various institutes. We designed a game that had a regional essence as it used bamboo sticks, a ball and a jute rope (called sutali) and could be made anywhere and anytime. It was an interactive game that involved 3 people (could involve at lot more as well). In a short time span, we came up with the strategy of the game and executed it as well. Another competition held by the Pune Design Festival involved presenting one's design to an audience in less than 5 minutes and selling it to the audience. It did not involve presenting the design process but how one can market the product. I stood second in this competition as I promoted my No Spill cup for Parkinson's Patient as a Cup for kids, those who are clumsy, basically a cup for all. Hence, this did not tag the product as a cup for the sick and made it acceptable for society. Thus, unknowingly I was undertaking projects in the lines of strategic design.

My 4 months internship with Rubberband Design has had a lasting effect on me and has moulded me not only into the designer but the person I am now. It was the first professional exposure for me. Satyajit Vetoskar, the founder of Rubberband Design and my mentor, guided me and gave me the opportunity to meet clients. In spite of the risks involved for him, he gave me the opportunity to present the concepts to the client and was humble enough to mention to them about my contribution to the design. He not only taught me about design but also about the importance of relationships, not only with clients but also with fellow designers, interns and absolutely anyone and everyone. He believed that, "People remember you by how you were with them and always come back to you if you have had a lasting impression."

I always consider myself lucky to have met talented and successful people in my internships who have taught me a lot from their experiences. My thesis project was "Chair for the Elderly in India" with Elephant Design Pvt. Ltd and I would like to include my elevator pitch here that I believe should suffice what I wish to explain.

"This Chair, a seating solution, is for the elderly 65 yrs and above who are suffering from arthritis and rheumatism. WHO reports, that there are about 96 million elderly who are suffering from this disease and the number is expected to grow to 133 million in a decade, that's almost a 40 % increase. This chronic disorder primarily attacks synovial joints thereby affecting our body's functioning and mobility.

The solutions existing in the market today, like the AERON CHAIR, are proving to be ineffective, mainly because its adjustment controls are inaccessible to an already impaired elderly. Moreover, the electric recliners available are inept to the Indian conditions where power cuts are a part of our daily life. After carefully studying the needs of the elderly, this chair was conceptualized to help them partially overcome the basic day-to-day hurdles encountered while performing various kinds of activities. It has a wide armrest and an attached footrest to provide for physiological stability and support, additional height to prevent excess bending of the knee joint, and, a backrest whose angle can be calibrated using the armrest to help them comfortably sit, relax or lounge."

This project involved all processes from ideation to a full scale and functional prototype. This project taught me how a firm works, getting approval, managing the accounts and paperwork, coordinating with the factory workers and getting the parts of different materials made at different places and assembling them. This was one of the major projects that had its own times of stress and times of bliss. Seeing a full scale functional prototype was a dream come true and made me believe that hard work definitely pays off. This project had me acting as not only a designer but an accountant, a researcher, a workshop assistant and mainly a coordinator and manager. This project has taught me a lot and brought me to the professional world. I am proud to add that a Design Registration Certificate was granted by the Patent Office, Government of India for this project and received a very good feedback from the jury.

During this internship I interacted with Mr. Kshitij Sawant, a Strategic Designer, and became aware about this stream of design. He helped me portray my research (part of my Diploma Project) in a systematic manner so as to highlight what is important and necessary. His approach towards a project was very well defined and an enhancement of a designer's approach. This probed


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