Canvs Spotlight — Manik Singh Hundgenn
Please introduce yourself, Could you tell us where you’re from and how you got started in the field?
I am Manik Singh Hundgenn from Batala, Punjab. It’s a mini-city that was once called the Steel Bird of Asia. I have been out of home after completing senior secondary school. My inclination towards design probably came up from thinking about how things could be better all the time. It gave a third person’s perspective towards an ideal situation.
In college, that led me to initiate a small festival which was meant to bring everyone together. The problem I saw was almost no communication across batches and no activities around the campus. The administration wasn’t really able to push for much other than academics. So me, along with a team, proposed to host the festival in the campus (post academic hours). The validation for the same happens to be that the fest is the only activity which happens every year without fail while the other annual fests actually fail to happen consistently.
This experience was great for me because it led me to believe in my own ability of observing, implementing and taking things forward towards ideal and learning to compromise for things to happen. That was the time I was doing my B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering after which I came in to PG in Product Design at MITID, Pune. I got to learn the other aspect about innovation and user centered approach towards design.
After that I have been working mostly with Digital Products, handling different roles through the day.
Could you tell us what your current role and what that encompasses?
My current role is as a lead designer for Appknox. There are a lot of requirements from the current role, like building a brand, styling guidelines and keeping in mind the various business goals and churning out UI for the interfaces. There are also various aspects of business / service design that are important while working with any startup. Usually the product is not thought through well before building which is never the case how designers work. So integrating that whole process and trying to keep the customer’s experience great at the same time is a challenge.
I look at the whole system, point out and suggest touch-points that would matter and should be taken care of. I have to sit with sales and marketing teams to understand the problems they are facing. For an early stage startup, miscommunication through any medium can be lethal. I have also been trying to look into the communication language used with clients and how the team presents itself.
What are some of the challenges you faced getting started as a young designer and making a space for yourself?
Depending on your outlook of design, the challenges vary. I always like to advocate a systems approach to design and then coming to conclusions while some other designers are okay with working on small modules. Apart from that, I find it difficult to make people understand what design is and how they are not using it to full strength. It’s usually a long conversation but a lot of times the others are not interested to hear that out.
As a young designer, I face challenges from anyone who is more experienced. I have to prove and be prepared to keep my point ahead confidently.
I have experienced being wooed to take a job where the recruiter wrongly put the project ahead. Of course I got to know what all is wrong with it once we started working on it. Gauging expectations from the project is a constant challenge. The Indian industry is not used to the open ended processes and scopes that designers sometimes handle and as a designer I also feel handicapped handling legal documents or framing them as per projects.
What are some of the the major challenges you face in your work now?
Major challenges I face is integrating a process where design can flourish throughout the team by itself and lead to more insights and opportunities finally leading to sustainable product innovation.
What are some of the ways you deal with challenges like burnout, how do you get back to a good headspace in those moments?
I like to turn to my guitar, camera, cycle or sketching to revive. Sometimes you can’t do anything but you still need to keep going. The best way that really makes a difference is anything that helps me get away from the screen for a while.
What’s some of the best career advice you’ been given?
I was suggested to pursue an MBA after my B.Tech. and probably that was the time I stopped believing in advice.
Believe in yourself and keep moving. My family doesn’t know what is it like to be a designer, what is a human centered approach or anything that helps it conventionally fit into their knowledge sphere. As such, I take design decisions myself and from a few mentors. What I take advice for is usually the business and management side of things.
If I keep following advice, I wouldn’t try anything new and will land up doing the same thing someone else did. And in design if you don’t get lost, you will most likely never find the solution.
What does your workspace look like? What tools and equipment let you do what you do?
Softwares that help
Adobe Creative Suite, Macaw, Google Calendar, Solidworks / Creo, 3dx Max, SketchUp
A Thinkpad, Pen and Paper, Camera, Wacom Tablet, A Boogie Board (best for scribbling)
Slack, Email Scheduler
And lastly, where do you see yourself heading with your design? What’s the dream that motivates you?
Well, I gradually want to collaborate with companies / startups / government to help them innovate through design and to implement design thinking in everyday working and planning. I see myself practicing design in the planning stage for every project. Companies can benefit from the business design perspective while planning can benefit a lot from design research and establishing needs of people much better.
The process has already started and I am talking to a lot of people to make it happen. Everyone agrees that it is required but rarely I come across anyone who knows how to make it happen and implement it. People are scared because design is not numbers and not conventionally or conveniently measurable. But whatever they believe, it is the way to go ahead and create amazing companies, businesses, products etc. Me along with a few friends are working towards establishing a studio that can help early stage startups through collaborating with them directly or the incubators and accelerators that aid them. We want to address design thinking and product design. The process will address the whole service and recognize touch points for users. We will make sure people understand why they should design before building it. And we will satisfy the perception of design of making things look good.
Dream that motivates me is to be able to impart a percentage of design that I have learnt and will learn through multiple mediums. Dream projects include designing a curriculum for innovation through design, designing an interactive learning space and a curriculum, a cafe and designing products for different cultures and socially inclined innovative ventures.
Check out more of Manik’s works by visiting his Canvs portfolio: https://www.canvs.in/portfolio/manik-singh-hundgenn/