Architectural colleges and design schools are second homes, predominantly featuring as the backdrop to what nature of work an architect and designer takes on. That space is responsible for the honing, developing, and polishing of their intellectual skills and knowledge of the trade that defines many lives and shapes societies. Studio spaces in colleges are cherished by students and are no doubt places of fond memories and experiences, both good and bad.
Architecture Schools and Design Studios
An architectural or design college is, therefore, no laughing matter. With the country brimming with design schools in every town and city, it needs a careful eye to discern between the good ones and the ones that would make one regret their choice later on. College certifications and affiliations, placements, quality and quantity of the faculty, and known alumni are some of the prominent factors that go into deciding a suitable college that will take at least four to five years of one’s youth. Most design schools, including but not limited to, interior design, product design, graphic design, and fashion design are four-year courses whereas architectural schools last five years.
It would be good to introduce my design school at this point. I was looking for a college right after grade 12 in school, but not sure as to whether I wanted to pursue a five-year architecture school or a more liberal design school, I applied to a few places, waiting on some good charms to find me praying for a good college experience. The day of reckoning came and I found myself deciding between a strictly architectural college and a four-year design school which offered more than most similar schools were offering.
I chose the Indian Institute of Art and Design (IIAD), and if you find me saying, at some fancy coffee shop, that IIAD has shaped me in more ways than one, then know that it could not be more true. With a few minor issues that I could do without, IIAD has influenced my school of design thought and made me look for questions rather than simply seeking temporal answers.
Indian Institute of Art and Design
The Indian Institute of Art and Design is located in Okhla, New Delhi. While the opinion remains that Okhla is probably not the best place to set up a college, much less a design school, it is a place that caters to many industries, manufacturing and production units, and a migrant community of laborers and workers. Set up as recently as 2015, the institute has grown to become a prominent name amongst design schools in New Delhi. In fact, in just five years, the school has witnessed students flocking from all parts of India, eagerly waiting to be admitted into the institute.
Affiliation with Kingston University
One of the primary reasons for the eagerness is its affiliation with Kingston University, London. Now, while a lot of colleges in India do have such an affiliation system in place, what sets IIAD apart is the thorough working of the system. The teaching methodology and the marking system of the institute have been set up and are regularly inspected by Kingston, which means that the system of education is inherently European. The curriculum, which seems peculiar throughout the first year, comes straight from London, and professors are required to strictly abide by it.
The design juries witness, ever so often, the presence of the international faculty that flies in to grade our papers as well as to conduct seminars and workshops. All this comes to an end when after four years, students who graduate from the school, are inducted into the alumni of Kingston University, eligible to study for a masters degree abroad by an easy transfer of credit scores, and have an added advantage of belonging to one of the best design schools in the world.
Courses Offered | Indian Institute of Art and Design
IIAD presents three schools of design with three levels (similar to college batches), all of which are spread out on three large floors. It offers communication design, fashion design, and interior architecture and design. To be frank, the fashion design school is the most popular course, which is followed closely by the other two. The biggest names in the fashion industry can be seen on campus, ever so often, giving advice and mentoring students, regardless of their chosen discipline. The school also has its own fashion shows which always see a full house, cheering on every model and designer alike.
The communication design discipline teaches graphic design, packaging, branding, UI/UX, product design, and film-making. With such a varied course, the students are often seen helping with different events on campus and enriching the other two design schools just as equally. The interior architecture and design course is perhaps the one with the biggest studios in college. Enrolled students learn interior architecture, set design, exhibition design, and furniture design with different briefs requiring different outputs.
Though separate, it is fairly easy to find the different design schools interacting with each other by attending their lectures and mentoring one another. For instance, during one of my projects, which involved designing an artist studio, I attended fashion design lectures in college to inform myself about the right fabric choices for the pieces of furniture.
Each floor is divided into three sections with students from the three years spread out in their individual sections, with interactions between the different batches happening right around the corner. This helps in establishing a promising peer-to-peer interaction that inculcates and hones design-related conversations, shared experiences, and a good working environment. Young students can confide with and are often mentored by the older students and this relationship carries into the professional lives of the students.
Unfortunately, with all the design talk and activities, the college does not have a proper sport or extra-curricular community related to music and games. The only sport played on campus is badminton. There are design festivals that are held, Re-mix being the primary one which has music and design competitions.
That being said, there are drama and dance clubs in the college, as well as proper graffiti and game-developing clubs that hold meetings and events several times in a semester. These are also responsible for their events on the days of the college festival. There is, in place, a student council that overlooks the organization of activities on campus and keeps a track of the spending and budget, especially the funding of these events, which are all student-led.
Graduating from IIAD (or graduating from Kingston University because it means the same thing) places a student at good locations all over the country. All the students from all three disciplines are required to intern during both the third and fourth year, with half the semester marks being advocated towards the performance during this time. This already inculcates a working culture in the students and so by the time they graduate, they have quite a fair amount of knowledge of the professional world.
The faculty is also one that is already currently working or researching for their post-doctorate degrees which enables them to guide the students. Many students have interned at well-established organizations, both in the country and abroad. Some of the acquired placements have been at FabIndia, Squareboat, Ant Studio, Mad Designs, OYO, LiveSpace, Tarun Tahiliani, and Levis.
With design schools picking up the pace in India, it has become important to choose wisely. A lot of experiences and schools of thought are incubated at these institutes and future designers and architects should be ready to tackle not just answers and design problems towards society but also question established design thoughts and fostering pragmatic and sustainable methods to help the societies progress towards a better future.