World renowned Professor Mahendra Patel graced the DYPDC campus and took a session on Visual Order. Prof. Patel is one of the finest teachers of Design today. He has been a faculty with National institute of Design, Ahmedabad for the past 39 years. He also conducts workshops and training programs at Faculty of Fine Arts, Baroda; Srishti College of Arts and Design, Bangalore, Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad, Industrial Design Center, IIT Mumbai, and Indian Institute of Crafts, Jaipur. He has also taught at Rhode Island School of Design, USA, Nova Scotia College of Arts, Canada, Christchurch College of Arts, New Zealand and Indus Valley School of Arts and Architecture, Pakistan. Presently, he is serving as adjunct faculty member at the Symbiosis Institute of Design (SID) and MIT Institute of Design, both of which are in Pune.
Mr. Patel has won several awards, amongst which the most recent is the highly respected Gutenberg International Award for his contribution in font designing for Indian scripts, and map design and signage design for Indian cities. He was also recognized as the Grand Master of design in 2007 by the Industrial Design Centre of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mumbai. He has worked on font design of six Indian scriptures – Devanagari, Gujarati, Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu and Bengali – and is planning to work on more.
He was gracious enough to answer some of our questions when he was in our campus.
What led you to become a designer?
I was good at drawing right from my childhood. My teachers always encouraged me, which helped me immensely. It helped me gain confidence. And at the advice of a good friend I took fine arts and landed in Baroda to study the same.
When or why did you shift to graphic design?
I finished my graduation and went to join my father’s business. I thought I will help him in his business and pursue painting on the side. However, I soon realized, it wasn’t my cup of tea. I was confused as to what to do in life. So I went to my professor K.G. Subramaniam seeking advice. He said I had two options: either to become an art teacher (which I didn’t want to) or go meet Gera Sarabai, who he said, was looking for people like me. I figured I had nothing to lose so I went to meet her. I gave the interview and showed my portfolio. She really liked my work. She asked me if I would like to join as a graphic design consultant at the National Institute of Design. Although I had no idea what graphic design was, I agreed. Gradually, I turned to letter design and typography. Around that time, Adrien Frutiger from Paris was visiting India. He was interested in exploring Type Design and its opportunities. I had this idea of working with Indian scripts. When I suggested it to him, he appreciated my idea and invited me to work with him in Paris. I learned a lot while working with him.
What is it that you like most about DYPDC?
I appreciate your sharp focus on Automobile Design. There is also a heavy emphasis on research and development, which is evident from your workshop, prototyping and testing facilities. I am also very impressed by the approach towards education, the way it is so practical in nature.
What according to you is the best design?
The best design is the one where the designer goes unnoticed. It should have a strong service focus, user purpose, and functional design. Design should provide uniqueness and an individual identity to businesses. One thing that bothers me is that we are still imitating the West when it comes to design, but we don’t understand that there design has become an art form, while here it still needs to be functional first.
What’s your one advice to aspiring designers?
My advice to them would be learn the fundamentals first and then experiment. And always keep your eyes open to all the changes taking place around you.