Insights from Insight India 2007 at Copenhagen 
Are luxury brands likely to succeed in India?
Do Indian consumers still look at European styling with awe? Do they always yearn for European products? What is the 'Indian' element in product design that consumers are looking for? Is sustainability a far fetched idea for Indian market?

These were some of the questions generated and discussed in the Insight India 2007, organised by Onio Design and Style-Vision of France in collaboration with Copenhagen Institute of Future Studies. It attracted people from senior management of companies like IKEA from Sweden, Henkel from Germany, Volkswagen from Germany, Symrise from France and Propeller from Sweden.

Manoj Kothari from Onio spoke on the socio-cultural insights that affect the innovation strategy for India, followed by a joint presentation of current trends along with Genevieve Flaven of Style-Vision.

Mr. Axel Olessen, the managing director of Copenhagen Institute of Future Studies did notice that the real race for Indian market is still two years away for the Scandinavian companies.

Participants were surprised at the subtle innovations appreciated by Indian market as demonstrated by Onio's case for Lexi pens. The key insights for innovation for Indian consumers as demonstrated by Onio i.e. Bold & Gold, Longevity, Collective Wisdom, Inherent Value and Quasi-static changes were well appreciated by participants in the context of design.

Business Week Report on Onio's views on National Design Policy ... han=search

India's Designs on Innovation

Compared with its Asian rivals, India has been slow to make design a priority. But a new national policy commits to doing business with style
by Nandini Lakshman

In India, design has never been a part of the business lexicon. Now, New Delhi wants to change that. This month, 40 years after setting up the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad in the western state of Gujarat, the Indian government finally ratified a design policy to make the discipline a national priority.

To achieve this, the new policy envisages a "platform for creative design development, design promotion and partnerships across many sectors, states, and regions for integrating design with traditional and technological resources."

Not only has the NID been deemed a university, the government wants to set up four more NIDs and make design a part of the curriculum in engineering and other educational pursuits. Finer details are still scarce, but with education as the key issue, it will bank on public-private partnerships to foster design.

Design Latecomer
So far, India has only a dozen design programs, compared with 241 in China. There are 300 design colleges in Korea, in contrast to India's 10. While China churns out 30,000 design students annually, India produces just one-third of that number. And while Asia is increasingly becoming the hotbed of design, India is nowhere on the scene.

This policy is the first sign that the government wants to rectify that. It comes at a time when both China and India—with their roaring economies—are among the most happening destinations globally. Says Sridhar Marri, head of the communication design group at Infosys Technologies, "The design-led economic transformation that we have always dreamed of in India can now be visualized on the horizon."

This initiative would put an emphasis on innovation at all levels. Even as Japanese and Korean brands consistently give their western counterparts a run for their money, Indian brands continue to dominate only in their home market. But with Indian companies increasingly displaying global aspirations, the realization that only innovation and design can set them apart from the crowd is dawning.

Crucial Differentiator
"This is a great move from the government of India to express and indicate support for India's design and innovation capabilities in the global arena," says Niti Bhan, a San Francisco-based emerging-markets strategist. "If India takes a leaf from the other Asian nations' books, they have a chance to be catapulted onto the world stage."

Until now design has never been a big concern, but more an incidental function in Indian business. But today, with stiff competition and scores of foreign brands and services invading India, design and product offerings are being touted as the only differentiators in the clutter. "The policy has the power to create an innovation ecosystem in the country," adds Marri.

Driving this system are hordes of small and midsize enterprises that are using design to make their presence felt. Drawing on the vastness of India, with all its cultural diversity, marketers are using design to make a global foray.

Making It Click
Take the case of the Lexi pen, made by a small manufacturer. It has a cap that makes a satisfying click sound when it's shut. With the click denoting the preservation of the object, the pen has been a roaring success in India. Manoj Kothari, founder of Pune-based Onio Design, which designed the product, claims his client is set to launch this product overseas, with certain tweaks. But he adds, "Most of our design has been reactionary rather than preemptive."

And such instances are few and far between, as India is struggling to develop its own Samsungs and LGs. Kothari also points out flaws in the policy—a lack of practical application pointers, for one. "The generic vision statement has a Utopian bonanza built into it. What's missing is a sustained and integrated plan for design and innovation," he says. He compares it to a patchwork of swatches from different world baskets that have been sewn together. "We are using design as a noun, but it should be also a verb for systematic innovation."

At the very least, the policy is an indication that design and innovation are topics at the tables of the nation's leaders.

Lakshman covers India business for BusinessWeek.

Financial Express Report on Insight India 2007 and Onio Design: 15th Feb 2007 
Copenhagen to dwell into the minds of the Indian consumer:
Geeta nair ... _id=154909

PUNE, FEB 14 : India is going to be the flavour at Copenhagen. There is new-found interest to design for India and figure out what India wants.

So the Copenhagen Institute of Future Studies along with Style-Vision, a trend research company from France and a design studio from Pune, Onio Design has organised a meet ‘Insight India 2007’ in Copenhagen on March 15-16, at the Danish Design Centre.

‘Insight India 2007’ is hoping to help Scandinavian and other European industries to evolve innovation strategies based on a deep understanding of Indian consumer culture, for a successful entry into the Indian market.

Onio Design will provide a view on the Indian consumer culture, design and trends. It had organised a similar round-table at London, as a part of London Design Festival with top managers from global giants like Procter & Gamble, Steelcase and Hitachi in attendance.

“This was a first such event organised by an Indian global design company outside India. There is a lot of interest and curiosity about India. Many companies want to come here but do not know how and where to begin,” says Manoj Kothari, the founder director and senior design strategist at Onio.

Kothari will speak on centuries of socio-cultural influences and modern influences of TV, Bollywood, software industry and internet that are shaping the today’s Indian consumers. Abhijit Bansod, chief designer of Titan Watches will talk on how Titan has done it on the basis of its insights of Indian consumer.

Axel Olsen, head of Copenhagen Institute of Future Studies, Genevieve Flaven, MD of Style-Vision and Karl Grondal, who has worked in India as senior designer with Onio will present his observations on Indian culture and design.

Manoj speaks on Design on Jobbing TV in Romania 
Manoj speaks on Romanian TV programme 'Jobbing'....on Design Profession in India and emergence of Onio Design...
Complete streaming video is on (towards the end)

National Design Policy for India accepted by Cabinet  
The vision for a National Design policy envisages the following:

i. preparation of a platform for creative design development, design promotion and partnerships across many sectors, states, and regions for integrating design with traditional and technological resources;

ii. presentation of Indian designs and innovations on the international arena through strategic integration and cooperation with international design organizations;

iii. global positioning and branding of Indian designs and making “designed in India” a by-word for quality and utility in conjunction with “Made in India” and “Served from India”;

iv. promotion of Indian design through a well defined and managed regulatory, promotional and institutional framework;

v. raising Indian design education to global standards of excellence;

vi. creation of original Indian designs in products and services drawing upon India’s rich craft traditions and cultural heritage;

vii. making India a major hub for exports and outsourcing of designs and creative process for achieving a design-enabled innovation economy;

viii. enhancing the overall tangible and intangible quality parameters of products and services through design;

ix. creation of awareness among manufacturers and service providers, particularly SMEs and cottage industries, about the competitive advantage of original designs;

x. attracting investments, including foreign direct investments, in design services and design related R&D; and

xi. involving industry and professional designers in the collaborative development of the design profession.

The strategy to achieve this vision would focus on strengthening quality design education at different levels, encouraging use of designs by small scale and cottage industries and crafts, facilitating active involvement of industry and designers in the development of the design profession, branding and positioning of Indian design within India and overseas, enhancing design and design service exports, and creating an enabling environment that recognizes and rewards original designs.


The Action Plan for implementation of the National Design Policy will have the following components:

(i) Setting up of specialized Design Centres of “innovation Hubs” for sectors such as automobile and transportation, jewellery, leather, soft goods, electronics/IT hardware products, toys & games which will provide common facilities and enabling tools like rapid product development, high performance visualization, etc. along with enterprise incubation as well as financial support through mechanisms like venture funding, loans and market development assistance for start-up design-led ventures, and young designers’ design firms/houses.

(ii) Formulation of a scheme for setting up Design Centres/Innovation Hubs in select locations/industrial clusters/backward states, particularly in the North East.

(iii) Preparation of a plan for training of trainers and for organizing training programmes in specific processes/areas of design and continuing education programmes for practicing designers from Design Centres/Innovation Hubs.

(iv) Preparation of a mechanism for recognizing and awarding industry achievers in creating a brand image for Indian designs through the award of a India Design Mark on designs which satisfy key design criteria like originality, innovation, aesthetic appeal, user-centricity, ergonomic features, safety and eco-friendliness.

(v) Encouraging Indian firms and institutions to develop strategic alliances with design firms and institutions abroad to gain access to technology and know-how improving Indian design.

(vi) Creating mechanisms for sustainable quality improvement in designs in India.

(vii) Laying special focus on up-gradation of existing design institutes and faculty resources to international standards, particularly the National Institute of Design (NID) and its new campuses/centres. With a view to spreading quality education in designs to all regions of India, four more National Institutes of Design on the pattern of NID will be set up in different regions of the country during the 11th Five Year Plan. The possibility of new models for setting up of such institutes, in keeping with the current economic and educational paradigms, will be explored. In this context, the public-private partnership mode could also be an option.

(viii) Initiation of action to seek “Deemed to be University”, or ‘University’ under section 3 (f) of the University Grants Commission Act, status for the NIDs, so that they can award degrees of B.Des and M.Des. instead of just diplomas as at present.

(ix) Encouraging the establishment of departments of design in all the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and all the National Institutes of Technology (NITs) as well as in prestigious private sector Colleges of Engineering and Architecture.

(x) Upgrading quality of engineering design, machinery design, process design, design materials, environmentally sound and socially and culturally relevant designs.

(xi) Encouraging the teaching of design in vocational institutes oriented to the needs of Indian industry, especially small scale and cottage industries, in primary and secondary schools as well as tertiary educational institutions.

(xii) Introducing short-term training courses and continuing education programmes by NID and other design institutes targeting on needy sectors and catering to the diverse sectors including agricultural and artisanal sectors.

(xiii) Organising workshops and seminars to create more awareness than at present among industrialists, particularly in small scale and cottage sectors, in different parts of India especially on the intangible aspects of design processes.

(xiv) Sustaining and strengthening India’s traditional knowledge, skills and capabilities while being sensitive to global heritage so that our shop floor workers, craftsmen and artisans could be engaged in manufacture of innovative products and contemporarisation of traditional crafts for broad spectrum of uses and niche markets.

(xv) Facilitating the establishment of a Chartered Society for Designers (on the lines of the Institution of Engineers, the Institution of Architects, the ‘Medical Council’, the Bar Council, etc.), to govern the registration of Design Professionals and the various matters relating to standard-setting in the profession.

(xvi) Setting up an India Design Council (IDC) with eminent personalities drawn from different walks of life, in particular, industry, whose functions, inter alia, would be as follows:-

· Undertake design awareness and effectiveness programmes both within India and abroad;

· Act as a platform for interaction with all stakeholders;

· Undertake R&D and strategy and impact studies;

· Accredit design institutions;

· Develop and standardize design syllabi, etc. for all institutions in India imparting design education;

· Conduct programmes for continuous evaluation and development of new design strategies;

· Develop and implement quality systems through designs for enhancing the country’s international competitiveness;

· Coordinate with Government to facilitate simplification of procedures and systems for registration of new designs;

· Assist industries to engage the services of designers for their existing and new products;

· Encourage design and design-led exports of Indian products and services including outsourcing its design capabilities by other countries;

· Take effective steps towards “cradle to grave environment-friendly approach” for designs produced in India so that they have global acceptance as ‘sustainable designs’;

· Enable the designers in India to have access to global trends and market intelligence and technology tools for product development and innovations;

· Encourage close cooperation between academia and industry to produce proprietary design know-how while encouraging creation of new design-led enterprises for wealth creation; and

· Encourage and facilitate a culture for creating and protecting intellectual property in the area of designs.

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