Design Skill Is Increasingly Being Applied To Every Industry: Samarth Bajaj

Samarth Bajaj, CEO & Co-Founder, The Designer's Class speaks about the inspiration behind starting this Edtech, the importance of quality design education and competing on a global platform. Excerpts:

Samarth Bajaj, CEO & Co Founder, The Designer's Class
(L to R)- Payal Singhal, Kunal Rawal, Sandeep Khosla, Anaita Shroff Adajania, Samarth Bajaj, Tanya Ghavri, Jayanti Reddy and Arpita Mehta (1)

Design has become a mainstream legitimate career choice. Gone are the days where any design-related profession was considered too risqué for people to pursue. It is a skill that has very wide-reaching application capabilities, however, the design education provided hasn’t evolved in decades, while the quality business education or science education has grown by leaps and bounds. That’s where the idea to start 'The Designer's Class' evolved from. A design based e-learning platform offering courses which are taught to you by the best in the industry.  A platform that can compete on a global level. Samarth Bajaj answers our most pressing questions on this venture.

What was the gap you were looking to fill?

  1. There were a few gaps that they identified:
  2. There are very few institutions in India that provide quality design education. 
  3.  Most good brick and mortar design schools are fairly expensive and not very affordable. 
  4. It is very little in the current curriculums that prepare you to monetise your design skills.
  5. Design aspirants/enthusiasts in tier 2 and 3 cities have to travel far away from home to actually come study at a quality institution. 

We have launched The Designer’s Class with the aim to democratise design education by making it affordable, accessible, engaging and relevant for any and every design enthusiast. 

How is this platform disrupting the EdTech sector?

While I’m absolutely flabbergasted and extremely impressed with the growth of edtech in India, I find that the structure is a little stoic, which it has to be considering the fields they are offering courses in. At The Designer’s Class, we really are making learning fun. We want you to be immersed in a world where you enjoy your time learning a particular skill. We are working on several gamification ideas, Virtual reality ideas, Metaverse ideas. We are working on creating a global community of design enthusiasts immersed in a world, where they learn design in the most practical manner, but it’s all virtually delivered. A community where geographic boundaries become irrelevant and design bind them together in more ways than one. Digital education as a concept allows us so many possibilities beyond what we’ve been traditionally used to and at The Designer’s Class we are working on making full use of those opportunities. 

Another important element that we provide is adding benefits to our subscribers holistically. We aim to add to their skillset and their resume. When they complete our courses they get certificates of completion signed by the designers themselves. They also get a chance to win internships with these highly accomplished individuals and companies. We are also in talks with several design-based conglomerates to take on interns from our platform and also encourage them to consider job placements through our platform. We are also working towards dubbing all our content in 7 different languages, some languages are already available on the platform. This allows our subscribe complete freedom to learn within their comfort zone, but think out of the box. 

How do you see this growing?

Design is the need of the hour. It’s a skill that’s is applicable and increasingly being applied to almost all industries that exist. Our courses are currently curated in a manner in which it caters to any design enthusiast, be it a 6th grader in school, a design student, a design professional an entrepreneur, homemaker or someone who wants a glimpse of what the world of design would look like. The TAM is significantly large. We are also a supplementary course, that gives an added advantage to people already studying design. We have been actively tying up k-12 schools and design institutions that have been excited to collaborate with us and offer the course to their students. Also today Indian design and Indian designers are celebrated globally. There is a large Indian diaspora that lives out of India, who are very keen to be a part of the Indian design industry.

In fact been seeing a good amount of traction from the UK, US, Australia, UAE and a few more countries without even direct marketing in these markets. Indian design is increasingly being revered by people beyond the Indian Diaspora as well. What happened with Japanese design 30 years ago is happening now with Indian Design. The world is going to want to know how to be a part of it and we have the best of the best names teaching you how to be a part of it. 

How can we encourage creativity through an online medium?

The simplest and most effective manner in which people could be encouraged is by having the most successful people impart knowledge about the field of study and narrate their journey on how they succeeded. We have names like Abu Sandeep, Masaba Gupta, Kunal Rawal, Rhea Kapoor, Tanya Ghavri, Arpita Mehta, Jayanti Reddy, Payal Singhal teaching fashion. Courses that we have coming soon are courses like: 

  • Gauri Khan teaching interior design
  • Rohan Shreshta and Joseph Radhik are teaching you photography
  • A comprehensive jewellery course by the very best of the best. 
  • A makeup course by one of the stalwarts of the industry, so on and so forth. 

All their journeys and achievements are so exciting and inspiring. Hearing them talk and getting an opportunity to learn from them, will encourage a lot of people to take the plunge into pursuing their creative ambitions. 

How has design changed over the pandemic?

The design element of fashion has changed over the pandemic but there has been a significant change in the way the business of fashion is conducted. The possibilities of the virtual world have been realised in a big way because of the pandemic and the fashion industry has rapidly been moving in that direction. A large e-commerce presence, even if you’re a luxury brand has become the need of the hour. Social media has now become the primary form of advertising. More innovative ways like creating fashion NFTs and the like have become mainstream marketing ideas. There are several such tech-related concepts that the fashion industry will pursue increasingly. It’s exciting. 

What are some misconceptions people have about pursuing a career in design?

The biggest misconception is the instability of income should you choose to adopt design as a career choice. While that might have been the case a decade ago that’s not at all the case today.

 Yes, traditional design education is a bit expensive, but today the need for design-based professionals and their salaries are rapidly increasing. IIID gave a statement saying there are about 3 Lakh interior design jobs to be created in India. Today a graphic designer who is a fresher earns a starting salary of anywhere between 35k to 50k. Graphic design alone as a skill set is required in almost every consumer industry that we can think of. There are several design-based professions of the like which are the need of the hour. Design based jobs will increase rapidly. When a country progresses, everyone wants to live better, design is the foremost way to achieve that. 

Who are these courses for and how has been the response so far?

The courses at The Designer’s Class have been curated in a manner in which in caters to any and every design enthusiast. Whether you’re a 6th-grade student, a design student, a design professional, a design entrepreneur or just a homemaker or a young adult looking to explore the world of design. We have something for everyone. The response so far has been extremely encouraging. The reviews of our content by institutions and by direct consumers has been extremely positive. People are really enjoying the courses, people are learning at the same time. We’ve been seeing a steady increase in our subscriber base.

What are your future plans for scale? 

To begin with every vertical that we add on adds a significant amount of potential subscribers. By this April itself, we will have courses offered in Fashion Design, Interior Design, Jewellery Design, which Photography, Make up & Wedding decor. Fashion is already live, the other will be released on a monthly basis up until April. By the end of 2022, we will have courses offered in 20 different design verticals like UI/UX, animation, graphic design, VFX, sound design, product design, architecture, flower design, food design, so on and so forth. We are also ready to enter the international markets in 4 weeks from now. We have our plans in place to enter the US, UK, Australia, UAE, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Singapore markets and will quickly explore the newer developing markets as well. We are also in talks with several western designers to bring them on as talent on our platform. This significantly increases our reach beyond the Indian diaspora in the international markets and also helps us bring a western perspective that our Indian audience can learn from and adopt to create a very unique fusion in the design world.

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