The FACE of Design - Rohit Koul

The FACE of Design - Rohit Koul

21, April 2021

Every design is meant for the users to buy and over time these users are converted into loyal customers if the overall performance of the product or service is good. But how is it termed as good or bad?

“We judge a design the way we judge a person,” says Rohit Koul, an industrial designer by profession as well as passion. His career spans various roles in human-centred design: developing concepts, finding consumer needs and translating them into patented solutions that make a lasting positive impact. He has been associated with brands like Godrej, Asian Paints, J&K bank, Design Intervention Pvt. Ltd. and is currently working as a Product Designer and Innovation Consultant with KPMG India.

Born in the valley of Kashmir Rohit was always inclined towards art. He is a gold medalist from the Indian Arts Centre yet being raised in a typical Kashmiri Pandit household even after wanting to build a career in the creative field. There were only two career options for him back then i.e., medical and engineering so, he opted for engineering. After completing his graduation he started his career as a software tester reviewing software with a design perspective, assessing the UX/UI more than the technical part, it was his calling to pursue UI/UX design. Then he started working for designing experience in the same company, after which he got formally educated in product and industrial design from MIT ID.

Currently working at KPMG doing consulting work, the first thing he has to do is to judge a product. Sharing several case studies and some of his design ventures, Rohit explained how to judge the design. He started with narrating the story of Doug Dietz who designed MRI machines. At a hospital, Doug saw a child crying before getting an MRI scan, on finding the reason behind this Doug found out that this design perfect for fulfilling the medical needs was scary and more than 80% of the pediatric patients were anaesthetized before the scan. Doug then wanted to redesign the MRI machine but the company then refused to invest more. Doug came up with the solution of a different product experience through role-play enactment where doctors and nurses would dress up according to the theme and the machine was painted accordingly to give the feel of a tunnel or cave. This became a trend and Disney and Phillips used this idea too

While designing a product or service under a company, we mostly start with making it functional, then aesthetic and as it is under a brand name it will obviously be looked at with a commercial viewpoint yet the emotional aspect is usually missed. Even though these aspects seem to be interconnected one must assure if all these are fulfilled.

"Design has to be such that you use the functionality, aesthetics and commerciality to bring the emotional value in it," says Rohit Koul. He illustrated this with the help of a sugarcane juicer that has a bell attached to it for connecting with the users emotionally. A Coca-cola can which has the brand name written covering the whole surface making it easily recognizable, the Tropicana case in which rebranding with a glass of orange juice in place of real orange reduced the sales as it no longer felt natural, later giving an example of his design of Godrej’s refrigerator with floral aesthetics, which other designers felt non-functional yet to the target users it was perfect and raised the sales.

Developing emotional association is the key to gain the trust of users as evident with the success of Coca-Cola’s tagline ‘Thanda Matlab Coca-Cola’ (cold means Coca-Cola) for the rural users. This was formed based on the user research that while offering any refreshment in rural areas these are always referred to as ‘thanda’ (cold) which later literally became just Coca-cola.

Written by,

Anvesha Dubey

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