Original Article from Business India - October 31st.

Design contributes great value to business/ was the underlying statement at the Design Link, held recently in Mumbai and organized by the ASSOCHAM (Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India) National Design Committee. The meet held that with innovations ruling the marketplace today, along with thriving competition, companies need to realize the value and potential of product design and integrate that into their business models. Speakers from leading business houses, as well as independent design studios demonstrated this by talking about how design can be used as a powerful management tool to create world class brands, products and services.

Until now, design was associated with industries like fashion, apparel, home decor, etc. But its use extends to much more than that; whether it's retail or even real estate. Companies like Titan Industries, Mahindra & Mahindra, Godrej, Asian Paints, Tata Motors, etc, have incorporated product design into their business strategies successfully, showing how it reflects on sales growth and long-term benefits for businesses.

The evening saw presentations ranging from brand building through design, to product engineering and design and even interesting insights on bridging design and business in the workplace. Revathy Kant, design head, Titan Industries, spoke about the growth of Titan Raga as a brand and how, through innovative and trend-setting designs, the brand has seen a growth of over 30 per cent. They now aim to take it further and become a Rs.5,000 crore brand. "Design strategy needs to be aligned with brand strategy. Today, contexts have changed. Design isn't just cosmetic and it can lead to more value creation," she says.

Speaking about business in design, Alpana Parida, president, DMA Yellow Works, Future group, spoke about how design can explode markets and change consumer behavior. She emphasized that we often miss opportunities because we consider design the last factor. "Organizations that don't embrace design will have to work harder to create value," she said.

Talking about how innovations should set the pace in the product design industry, Zoeb Kanorwalla, design head, Piramal Glass, said how his company has successfully expanded   its   portfolio   with   the help of design - right from nail polish and perfume bottles to conversation furniture.

Aparna Piramal Raje, director, BP Ergo, and youth chair, ASSOCHAM" National Design Committee, gave some interesting insights on workspaces and their working styles and how they have evolved from just plain office spaces to entities that reflect the company's values and aspirations. Drawing examples from various workplaces, she demonstrated how each workspace has a story to tell and can have a distinct style, like being 'nomadic' or 'neighborly'. For instance, the workspace designed for Hindustan Unilever (HUL) evokes a friendly or a neighborly atmosphere.

From what may have had a stilted growth in the beginning, design has come a long way. Corporate houses and companies have realized the importance of design technology and management and now have dedicated design teams or units. Learning from global experiences, the government is also looking at promoting product design and creating awareness through its National Design Policy. Nurturing and sustaining the design industry will therefore be pivotal for the growth and expansion of companies and industries.

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