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Young designer from India shares his experiences

Here at DesignerTechniques we get asked a lot for advice on where to study, which country to choose, is it easy to live abroad etc. Whilst we would like to answer all your questions, it is of course impossible for us to be experts on every design school and course in the world. We did think however it would be interesting to speak to people who have already taken some interesting routes. Their experiences and insights hopefully helping you in your choices. To start this off, we have spoken to Ankit Prashar, a young designer from New Delhi, India, about his experiences of studying in Europe.

Ankit Prashar, a recent graduate of Coventry University, is only 21 years old but has already packed a lot in! Ankit has studied one year in IED (Istituto Europeo Di Design), Turin, Italy as well as completing a 4 month professional training placement at Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. And now he has of course completed his BA in Automotive Design at Coventry University.

Hi Ankit, first of all, tell us a little about yourself, and why you chose a career in design?

I grew up learning only about science and mathematics and by the time I finished my school I was quite fed up of just learning up stuff from the book and then writing it in an exam. When I was young, like many boys I too was crazy about cars. It was however only during my final years at school that I began sketching cars at the back of my notebook while the teacher kept on going with his physics lecture!

Once you had decided, how did you go about finding information on how to become a car designer?

Just one answer- The internet! I would spend all nights just surfing on the internet, going through forums, etc. I short listed few colleges, went to their respective websites and asked for their prospectus. Then I evaluated my options, and took up the one, I considered the best.

What made you choose coming to Europe to study?

I think one of the main reasons to choose Europe over USA was that the American automotive market at that time had started to deteriorate. Also, the cost of education was far more expensive as compared anywhere else.

You must have looked into courses in India as well, was there a reason for not staying in India?

Yes i did, but at that time there wasn't really any university which offered a specialized course in automotive design. I think its only in the last 2 years or so that the National Institute of Design (NID) has come up with a specialized course in automotive design. So studying abroad was the only option left for me.

Was it straightforward, or did you encounter any difficulties in arranging to study in Europe?

Well, I got into Coventry University; however just three months before leaving India I was informed that I wasnít eligible for a student visa as I was only 17 years old. That was a terrifying moment as I had no backup. Fortunately, I came across IED in Turin who were for the first time coming up with a 1st year course in English Language and so I decided to go for it.

What advice would give to other young designers in India who also hope to pursue a career in design?

First of all - Ďitís not easy, and it certainly isnít about just drawing on a piece of paper. Secondly, I think from an Indianís point of view the cost of the course is a major concern. And I would highly recommend the NID (National Institute of Designing) as they are making progress at an unimaginable pace and they certainly have a huge reputation and at par faculty.

Other than that all I would say is that you have to be really passionate about cars and most importantly about sketching. Sketching a car is indeed difficult if you havenít done it before. It takes months to be able to sketch properly and requires a lot of patience. But, there is no going forward unless you canít put down your ideas effectively on a piece of paper.

Finally besides the colleges, there is a wealth of information available on the internet on various websites including Designerstechnique.com. Youtube has a host of sketching and rendering videos which can actually teach you things that are not really taught in colleges.

So, tell us a little about your final year project, we see some pictures here of the design in different stages. How did you approach the design process?

My final year project was about a sustainable luxury sedan. The earth is at 11th hour and we as designers definitely need to provide solutions for sustainability. Moreover, I thought that cars of this segment are mainly used by CEOís and affluent class who usually travel in the rear seat at most. So, I went in for a 1+2 seating layout which offered enormous interior space to the rear passengers yet kept the overall dimensions of the car to a minimum.

I looked into the lifestyle of the rich people and looked into things like what do they really require as money presents no barrier. I tried to understand what luxury really means to them and it certainly wasnít about a 20-speaker music system or a 30í LCD TV on the backseat!

I guess you have learned a lot in the past few years, what have been the key lessons you have learned from your time at Coventry and I.E.D?

Even though my stint at IED was brief, it has made a big difference in my life. It was at IED that I learnt the very basics in the first year from literally holding a pencil to sketching, perspective, composition and marker rendering. In one full year I basically learned how to sketch cars. If it was not for this I wouldnít have been able to successfully complete my studies at Coventry.

At Coventry, things were a little different .There, I learnt about other aspects of the design. I learnt about how to research into a project before just going about sketching random stuff. I learnt how to present my ideas effectively via flatwork/PowerPoint presentations. I think at Coventry I learnt how to sell myself as a designer. Also by the final year, I effectively learnt how to make a scale model through all the stages (clay modelling, casting, sanding, milling, painting, etc.)

Were there any surprises during your time studying car design?

Definitely! Personally when I set out for this course I had no idea how intensive it would turn out to be. It is definitely one of the most difficult things I have accomplished yet. Personally, I believe I have become a stronger person in the last four years. However, it was not all negative. While in Italy we visited the Fiat factory and the Stile Bertone design studio where we saw all the concepts under one roof! At the Geneva motor show, just being an automotive design student, we were allowed to get on the podium next to our dream car! Truly, a dream comes true.

Now that you have completed your studies, what plans do you have for the future, it is no secret that it is not a healthy time in the auto industry just now?

Yes, it is a shame and also a bit unfair that after all the hard-work you have done, the industry has gone down massively. But, I guess I am not the only person facing this situation.
However, the Indian industry is showing signs of recovery (and this was indeed my initial plan which I had foreseen, that by the time I graduate, the Indian automotive industry will be fresh and growing). So now, I am looking at opportunities in India itself. I am also looking for freelance opportunities and as a matter of fact I have just finished one freelance project. So, not too bad I guess!

Many thanks Ankit, we wish you the best in your future career! For those wishing to contact Ankit you can email him at, ankitprashar@gmail.com


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