A reputed pioneering Design and Business transformation consultant, Sudhir Sharma has twenty one years experience, working in India, travelling extensively in Asia region and lecturing and speaking in various universities. While talking to Estrade Sudhir helped us explore the design world, his professional journey and future initiatives.
Team Estrade: Tell us a little about your professional journey till date?
Sudhir Sharma: I graduated from NID in 1989 and moved to Pune to create one of the earliest Design Companies in India. The first major opportunity was to work for National games in Pune which eventually happened in 1994. We designed a signage system for the city of Pune, and for the games. Interacted with Politicians and game administrators along with horde of contractors. Next big break was when Bajaj Auto which is also based in Pune called us to work on one of their showrooms, We could convert this in a standardisation programme for all their showrooms. I think that was a lovely project, it changed the way Bajaj looked at itself, and I landed a great friend in Rajiv Bajaj. I still work with Bajaj, it’s been more than 20 years have worked on showrooms, their corporate identity, their uniforms, sub brands, corporate building, displays, auto expo exhibitions, art projects, events, a few films and a few books. I am sure there is more that I have done. This has been a creatively satisfying journey.
Next major thing that I got my hands in was ICICI, it used to be called something else, we were instrumental in the change and the shape in which you see the financial institutions now. Close on its feet was Standard Chartered bank, this quickly became a global project. Next major land mark was Design and communication work for Commonwealth Youth games that happened in Pune in 2008. The project was creating a distinct identity for the city and we got to interact and work with many facets of the city. We also changed the way Venkies is.
On the way I had published a few books on Pune and started a few community initiatives for Design. I did a fair amount of international travel to learn more about designers in different places and how design worked in many countries. Then becoming jury on Cannes, Adfest Pattaya, Dutch design awards, Design Turkey and speaking opportunities added to the travel thing.
I founded Indi Design (www.inidesign.in) in 2009, and started a research unit with it (www.indiresearch.in). I find working together with friends is much more satisfying then working alone, so started creating a worldwide network of designers and design companies that wanted to work together. That’s how today Indi network is in 9 countries; we work together on many projects in various geographies. My vision for Indi network is still work in progress.
Team Estrade: And how did POOL idea started?
Sudhir Sharma: In 2009 I was member of the first India Design council, where I suggested that India needed to have a Design magazine that promoted Indian designers. IDC didn’t seem interested. Also many members were of the view that running a magazine is very difficult. So I took the challenge and started POOL. It comes every month, it is the same size as it was on day one, and we have so far published 62 issues and two large Annual compilations. (www.poolmagazine.in). We also started an online magazine www.indipool.com last year. This year we started ‘The best Design Studio” awards. Ideas come…it depends on what we can catch and create something out of them.
Team Estrade: Besides POOL magazine, kindly let us know about your other initiatives that are bridging the gap between all stake holders connected with the design industry?
Sudhir Sharma: The first was Design India yahoo group; it was started in 2002, when designers didn’t talk to each other. That was before the term social network came. Now on designindia on yahoo, facebook, and linked-in about 25000 professional designers are connected. Next was POOL magazine, then came, Pool Annuals, then www.indipool.com and now we have the “India’s best Design Studio” awards. Next should be a TV channel
“Ideas come…it depends on what we can catch and create something out of them”
Team Estrade: What is the market size of your TG and your focused target audiences?
Sudhir Sharma: TG for design initiatives is about 1 million creative professionals, but I realise that a common man is very interested in Design too, so in that sense it is a huge market. I think we reach a tiny fraction of that TG today.
Team Estrade: What technology trends are likely to transform your industry over the next 5 years? As more and more readers prefer online content as it is readily available on handhelds devices?
Sudhir Sharma: Surprisingly professional designers are still not reading online and haven’t moved on to reading on mobile devices yet. But that’s inevitable. The video content delivered over mobile network is definitely the next stage. Social media interactions and shared active participatory events will become common soon
Team Estrade: How is the new generation inclined towards design and architecture, as everything has got too commercialized, with the housing real estate industry boom across major cities across India?
Sudhir Sharma: Surprisingly new generation is valuing the creative fields and do see this as an important tool for democracy and equalising. On the design end, younger designers are connected and aware, booming costs don’t bother them really. On the consumer end I am sure people see the difference in lives that being made.
Team Estrade: After the Mughals and the Britishers, over the last 60 years we haven’t come across a single Indian monument that puts India on a world map or a tourist map? Any comment.
Sudhir Sharma: I agree, but then other than Middle East this hasn’t happened anywhere else too. This has a lot to do with the nature and priorities of governance than with countries. India and anywhere else to create a monument will be resented and seen as wastage of resources in today’s time. And I am very comfortable with not having any more of those.
Team Estrade: What do you aim for next? Any upcoming ventures/events in pipeline?
Sudhir Sharma: Yes, we plan to have an event around “India’s best Design Studio” awards next year. I hope we get good people and companies to partner with. That would be exciting. We also started Ind-US and I am very excited with prospects. We added quite a few clients to our network this year; it will be exciting to work in all these geographies at the same time. Truly connected world.
Truly connected world; Sudhir Sharma, INDI Design