Interview: Paul Sandip, the Designpreneur and Founder at Paul Studio, India

Paul Sandip is one of the famous and influential designers in Indian product design fraternity. It’s been an honour to have him on our blog for some conversation.  

He looks in-between the everyday products and instil life within objects. He won the prestigious Red Dot Design Award twice and has designed over 700+ products for his clients across the globe. He is also three times TEDx speaker. No wonder he has received the title of “Designpreneur” from our Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi himself.

As a designer, Paul feels there has to be a relationship between the product and the user. Read on to learn more about his idea and how he looks up to a regular object,

Let’s start our first introduction question with “Creative isn’t the way I think. It’s the way I live.” Please elaborate so that our readers can see how creativity can be a lifestyle choice as well.

Most people believe that one is creative only if he/she can draw or paint well. However, Creativity is more a life skill than a fine motor skill. Highly creative people are those who lead with their heart, think out-of-the box, curious forever, feel okay to make mistakes, disregard rules and work independently. So, if you identify with any of those attributes, then you are already leading a creative life.

As a product designer you have provided solutions to everyday life’s hurdles. In fact, it seems, we have adapted to most of these problems except you. Are you always thinking about making the lives of people easier in general? I really want to know what approach you take while working through your design challenges.

Well, the reason most of us adapt to a give situation is because that’s the easiest way to make oneself comfortable. It is also because of Habituation, which stops us from seeing things as a problem even if there is any.

Yes, it is true that I do not accept the status quo and question even the obvious.

Everyday products, they are so numerous and ubiquitous. They form the material framework of our existence, enabling it to function, not only in practical or utilitarian terms, but also in ways that give pleasure, meaning and significance to our lives.

But why do not we notice them?

Most of us travel by the same route everyday, do similar tasks everyday, go to same places and although we are awake and seeing things around us, we are not actually looking at them consciously. Hence, such products are frequently taken for granted.

Design, to my understanding, is all about having an eye for such details and bringing back life to mundane objects. I believe in contextual innovation.

How do you balance function with aesthetic appeal?

If the final solution to a problem does not look good, even if it functions as desired, I feel the job is not 100% done yet. I don’t stop refining until I say WOW! myself 🙂

Would you say you have a certain approach or philosophy to your designs?

Voluntary Simplicity, that is what defines my approach to life and design.

It is about freedom. It is about wanting less. It permits one to spend less time on innovating features (which land up adding clutter) and more time bringing in new experiences, insights, and relationships between the product and the user.

I am here to kill elitism in design and make even the most ordinary extraordinary and help people improve their daily life experiences.

What do you think is the next evolution in sustainable design?

Products alone cannot be sustainable; systems have to be. And for that to happen, Sustainability has to be ingrained into our daily life choices and not just remain a “wish to have” virtue.

What has been the most surprising thing about entrepreneurship?

While I am planning to quit my job as an Industrial designer at LG Electronics, and start my entrepreneurial journey, I had thought it would be a much difficult path ahead, but it turned out to be more fun with flexi work-life timings and definitely extremely rewarding financially. My first quarter returns surprised me 🙂

What advice do you have for people who might be thinking about striking out on their own with a small business or creative venture?

Genuine needs are seldom spelt, and more often felt. So, if you can identify a genuine need, try to translate that into a commercially viable product/solution. Good design is good business.

Quick bits:

What is your favourite movie quote?

“When you have to shoot, shoot. Don’t talk.” (The Good, the bad, the ugly. 1966)

If you were a superhero what would your powers be?

See things as they are and not as I think they are.

If you could get yourself anything, what would you get?

I am very restless you see, also an insomniac. I would get some sleep.

If you could trade lives with anyone for a day who would it be and why?

Each day I am working on something new. I work on projects that range from designing a tooth brush holder to a washing machine to an AI powered Smart Sensor… the variety is way too much. Each project demands extreme creativity. The fall out of being able to see problems in everyday life can be very taxing if that’s a way of life on a daily basis. If I could trade a day, I would love to trade it with any unknown common man, just to experience a happy mundane life.

What books should I read in 2020?

I am writing one, so you can read that in 2021 🙂

Paul, it has been a real pleasure! I can’t thank you enough. And yes, I’m gonna surely read your book 🙂

Your work is truly an inspiration. We look forward to visit you again and see more of your creative effort in the future. Till then, we wish you all the very best for your future endeavor.

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