Beyond the PX: In Conversation with Snigdha Nanduri, Independent Design Manager
Welcome to the #IndianDesigner conversation series in the 8px magazine.
This is the seventh interview with Bangalore-based designer, Snigdha.
Snigdha is a Design Strategist and an independent consultant. In the past, she has worked with clients including DailyHunt, Olam International, Asian Paints, ICICI Bank, BDO Philippines. She believes in giving back to the community via series of workshops on design thinking and innovation, called Design camp.
Enjoy, and see you next time :)
Can you explain briefly what you do currently?
I live to jump into complex business challenges. Most of the organizations I work with deal with challenges that need long-form logic and alignment to their vision, I step in right there and understand the situation and simplify the process — working with them.
As a Designer, a large part of my job is only working with people in finding the best way forward to situations, which is remarkable because each one in the team would know something the other doesn’t, especially in large organizations. I come with curiosity, process, and putting the pieces together.
What has been your design journey up until now?
I went to NIFT (National Institute of Fashion Technology) and studied Fashion Communication which introduced me to the world of extraordinary craftsmanship. It was incredible, however, my interest peaked when I studied the process of creation more than the final outcomes, which were obviously fantastic! It was an itch to understand where do Ideas come from? And so, I went on to pursue my master's in Interaction Design at SUPSI in Switzerland.
This totally shaped my thinking — from a Fashion School to a proper Functional Design Course, this was it. It quenched my thirst for knowledge in Design, Ideas and most importantly brought out internal skills that I didn’t know existed — Like empathizing, keen observation skills, design research, and prototyping.
What does your typical morning look like?
I jump out of bed almost immediately after waking up, I fold my sheets because I realized it gives me a head-start to the day. The one thing I look forward to every morning is the sun. My best level of productivity is in the early morning, with no caffeine no sugar high-energy time. The sunsets the mood for the day. I only move to my devices once I’m ready for the day. A few calls with family and a mandatory video call with my dog Buddy 🐶 in the morning is all I need, along with breakfast.
For every other free minute in the day, I’m listening to a podcast on Philosophy, or Psychology.
Do you have any design hacks?
I push to identify the big challenge. Defining and finding the correct problem in the heaps of problems is a must, so I patiently wait until then picking bits and small pieces of information along the way.
I don’t multi-task, it’s glorified and it’s the poor brother of inefficiency.
I introduce design processes right in the beginning to get rid of the ambiguity. It helps teams in organizations put out information in a simple and easy way.
I put everything on Post-its :)
Do you find it hard to define what you do to your friends?
This has become easier as I realized what my role is as a designer. My answer has evolved over time and I sometimes surprise myself each time I try to explain to people what I do. Some of them would box it into “Graphic Designer” or “You do Photoshop and all right?”, but some of them really have interesting questions and mostly give out really wise experiences of companies working on complex challenges, someone they know who might be able to work with me or just curiously asking me about my projects.
How do you design ‘for the future’?
To design one must ensure awareness of the past, present, and future of the challenge to solve. The future is often painted as an aspiring, dreamy, and fantasy-filled place according to one’s own wishes. When a company realistically gets down to the core of its challenges, a lot becomes clearer, their vision would be self-evident and that’s pretty much the way to go.
We underestimate the power of human thinking, over the years with the destruction, threats, and evolution we’ve been through, it’s ingrained in us to perceive the future according to the present. Design enables just that.
What drew you to working in this area?
I’m an independent consultant. I work with a team of fellow designers, we love finding interesting design challenges, spend a ton of time with it, creating solutions for it, testing, and once it’s in place for companies to take care of it, we go after another. My life is so gamified — each time I think we cracked a really huge challenge, we get one-up on the next challenge immediately. It’s amazing.
What’s your team dynamic?
We are a team of designers in different parts of the country, most are self-taught and some are non-designers who are obsessed with design. It functions purely on a common interest — We love to go after challenges.
What are your thoughts on burnout?
It happens but it’s usually something that my team watches out for in one another. Sometimes we push till the finish line and have nothing left to give more, but due to the dynamics of energy, there’s always that one person who can muster the enthusiasm and keep it going.
Also, we have a healthy conversation with no shame about judgment — the pandemic has opened us up to the worst someone can go through and still come back up with courage, sometimes we experience it too. It is important to worry about everyone’s well-being. This goes out to our clients too — we work very closely with people because ultimately, we are all humans designing for human and man-made challenges. It’s important to be human, everywhere.
What advice would you give for those interested in kick-starting a career in designing for the market?
Don’t go asking for advice.
I thank Snigdha Nanduri on behalf of the readers of 8px for being a part of this series and sharing his inspiring insights. Thank you for reading, hope you enjoyed it
Until next time 👋
A selection of our other interviews:
- Beyond the PX: In conversation with Junaid Hashmi, Design lead at Bolo
- Beyond the PX: In conversation with Saloni Sinha, Senior Visual Designer at frog design
- Beyond the PX: In conversation with Tanya Bhandari, Design lead at YLabs
About the author:
Shivam Dewan is a product designer based in New Delhi, India.
Remote worker by day, Flaneur by night. Feel free to reach out to him over Twitter @theshivamdewan.