“Most of us don’t realize how natural design is. Even as kids we are constantly designing something, like building blocks out of lego. I’d like to believe that another word for design is problem solving,” says Diya Sharma, a visual interaction designer at Sindeo.
Sindeo is a San Francisco-based startup that aims to bring the mortgage industry into the modern world – making it faster, simpler, and more personalized. As a visual interaction designer, she builds digital tools/products for mortgage advisors and consumers.
Being the only industrial designer in her family, she says,
During my early years, I kept learning about my cousins taking up science either for engineering or medicine and excelling with flying colors. That made me wonder if I would be able to give the same contentment to my parents. It made me want to pursue industrial design even more and excel in it.
Her biggest dream
A Delhi girl, she did her schooling from Delhi Public School, R. K. Puram, passed out in 2009 and then joined Srishti School of Art Design and Technology, Bengaluru.
However, there was one dream she had and that was to study at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).
Over the summer, instead of heading home, she stayed back at Shrishti to work on a project for IGEM (International Genetic Engineered Machine – 2010) that takes place at MIT every year. “We were sponsored to go to MIT, Boston, and participate as the only designers among a crowd of engineers and biologists. It was then that I got a chance to visit RISD,” she says.After the trip to RISD, it became a do or a die situation for her. “All I needed was a day at RISD to know what it means to be educated at the world’s best design school,” she says.
Diya came back and put all her energy into building her portfolio. In 2011, she transferred to RISD as an industrial design student.
However, moving to a different world came with its own challenges. According to her, staying away from one’s comfort zone strengthens a person. “There were times when I was really sick. But I just pulled myself up, walked in the snow to a prescription and go to the pharmacy myself. I learnt how to be independent at the worst of times,” says Diya.
Diya’s motto of ‘you learn every day, you grow every day’ is something she follows in life. Because of this she is happy working at a startup. “It is another layer of education before you start something of your own. In a few years hopefully I will,” she says with a smile.
Creating new things
Diya loves creating things. Knowledge for her has always been based on practical learning. However, understanding the mortgage industry (finance), coming from a design background, has been tough. It took Diya over 6 months to learn the process. Now that she is aware of the pain points consumers face,
while getting a mortgage, it helps her build the best tools for them.She has learnt that smart design always exists with good aesthetics and how, as customers, our eyes are always attracted to something that combines functionality and aesthetics.
Of the things she has designed, her favorite is the magnetic tableware – SUR, designed for the transportation industry. As there is so much turbulence in this sector, having the magnetic mechanism within utensils will help people spill a lot less.
Industrial design as a career
Diya explains how dynamic the field of industrial design is. “You can also study medicine, become a doctor, do industrial design and build medical equipment for patients. You design every day to improve the lives of people in some way or the other. I wouldn’t choose to be in any other field,” she says.
Diya draws inspiration from design professionals around her as well.
According to her, a lot more women are opting for this career.Her advice to those in industrial design is that this field allows one to navigate oneself in any direction. Within the bracket of industrial design one can fit in user experience and interface, product manufacturing, engineered assemblies, furniture productions, medical improvements and entrepreneurial ideas.
“Be a problem solver! Just get your hands dirty and time will lead the way,” she says.