Design Education cannot be imparted over a video call: Pranav Aggarwal

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It feels really nice to see young minds behind anything huge. One such young achiever is Pranav Aggarwal. Pranav Raj Aggarwal is one of the youngest (27 years) Executive Director in the education sector in India. He is a driven and motivated director of a design education institution that is driving change in the non-STEM education sector of India since 2018. His vision for the International School of Design (INSD) is to create cross-border initiatives that curate and design curriculums to create an immersive student experience, equipping students with the knowledge and skills to understand and implement modern-day design techniques and traditional ways of art. Here are a few excerpts from a chat with Pranav about post-COVID design education and his style of work.

When was INSD founded?

International School of Design (INSD) was founded in 2011 by Sunjey Aggarwal. With merely 11 students in the founding batch of the New Delhi campus, INSD has no grown to have taught over 5000 students.

What is the Strategy and aim of INSD?

International School of Design was launched with a vision to make design education accessible to what is commonly known as “The Real India” or the 0.8 billion people living in suburban towns and villages, who have the intent and talent to become successful designers. A career in design is always deemed a less lucrative career option and has almost always been selected by the affluent. Via affordable tuition fee structures (for students with lower purchasing power) and high-quality course materials, we strive to make design education a luxury that can be afforded by all.

We adopted a Franchise Business Model, where we established city-center campuses in Tier I and Tier II cities across the country. Throughout these campuses, we ensure high-quality design education— made possible by inviting mentors and guest lecturers from across the world.

A running, consistent mission has been to be identified as a specialist school for arts, design, and media. The focus is on nurturing talented designers, who are not only capable of building their own design labels but are also equipped to work with India’s leading designers. A few of our alumni currently work with brands such as Gaurav Gupta, Benetton, Asian Paints, etc.

Alongside educating students in design, we also attempt to change the narrative surrounding design education in India. We personally consult and converse with relatively conservative families to educate them about the benefits of a career in design education.

What were the Initial Challenges and how did you overcome them? –

The biggest challenge was to build trust in the brand. Other design schools, having existed for over two decades, had built a loyal customer base.

After repeated trials and errors, we concluded that the only strategy worth sticking to was: stay true to our vision. We continued to provide high-quality design education to students from all walks of life and focused on setting up shop locally. Our local city-center campuses enabled students to pursue their passion while staying in their home-towns and close to their families. Once we hit the ballpark figure of fifty successful centers across the country, people started placing their faith in our brand. It hasn’t been a bed of roses, but it was worth striving for.

Which Cities host INSD and what are courses offered and fields? 

INSD has its centers in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Vishakhapatnam, Surat, Bhubaneshwar, Bhilai, and many other Tier I and Tier-II cities.

The courses offered by INSD are in the fields of –

  1. Fashion Design
  2. Interior Design
  3. Jewelry Design
  4. Graphics Design
  5. Luxury Brand Management
  6. Animation
  7. Image Consulting

What is your role in INSD and what are the new strategies adopted since 2018?

I’m the Executive Director of INSD and my role is to ensure that students learn, get inspired, and nurtured every day that they walk into their classrooms. In more granular words, I ensure that a certain quality standard is maintained and that the brand continues to expand nationally and internationally.

Our focus as a brand has been to accommodate the limitations of the education industry and to make it our own. With more industry-relevant collaborations, better digital marketing campaigns to increase digital presence and to instill fresh perspective (millennial) branding. It gives me great joy to be able to say that, over the past two years, we’ve seen a record-breaking surge in our yearly take-in.

One of my strategies has been to introduce cross-border initiatives for students to get better exposure and learn from design leaders across the world; also making the learning experience more holistic. Few of our tie-ups include study abroad programs in France and internship programs in cities like London, New York, Milan, and Paris.

Has there been an Impact of Covid 19 on the education business and how is INSD overcoming it?

You cannot zoomify creative education – that’s the harsh reality. COVID-19 has forced us all to take education online, and while that might be possible for more text-heavy or research-heavy disciples, design education simply cannot be imparted over a video call. These require physical training. Nobody expected the lockdown to stretch over the whole year, which pushed the admission deadlines further ahead. We didn’t know when students would be able to return to classrooms, we weren’t sure if we could count on the deadlines given by the government, and it was all a big pivot. Schools and universities adapted to the online education system where everybody started conducting online classes. We decided to innovate! We not only conducted existing courses online but we also launched new programs that were taught online by leaders of the industry.

One of our new and highly acclaimed online programs was– “How to Launch a Luxury Start-up” which was taught by a 20+ Luxury Industry leader spread over 4 weeks. It was a total of 40 hours of learning and attendees from all over the world appreciated and inculcated it.

Does INSD use a digital platform and what is the strategy around the same?

We use Microsoft Teams to host and conduct all our classes. It has been an extremely beneficial addition for our faculty and students as it’s become a super collaborative learning experience.

What is the significance of Luxury courses? –

The Indian subcontinent is brimming with opportunities in the luxury industry. The upper-middle-class segment is thriving, aspirational, and willing to allocate a larger slice of their budget towards discretionary spending aka luxury products (Statista and Euromonitor). The Indian luxury market is also set to grow at 6.6% CAGR and 18.1%, respectively, between 2019-2023.

Data shows that things are looking up for the luxury industry, and the Indian market specifically is the nascent stage of an upward trajectory.

Our luxury courses are designed to give the student an inside-out approach to the luxury business. Understanding the luxury industry from the lens of an entrepreneur, an artist, and a consumer. The courses will help students learn and adapt to skill sets essential for understanding the journey of a luxury product and giving it a voice through branding elements.

Acknowledging that not all luxury segments function on the same principles, our coursework looks at varied luxury verticals individually and extensively. Think fashion, hospitality, lifestyle, automotive, and real estate. Students will be taught the intricate working of the luxury industry around the world and the psychology behind why it is a coveted thing. We will also help students acquire unique insights into consumer behavior – the fuel that drives consumption.




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