A well known industrialist, Dr. Naushad Forbes is Co-Chairman, Forbes Marshall, India’s leading steam engineering and control instrumentation company. He is on the Board of several educational institutions and public companies and was recently listed in the Indian Express list of the 100 most influential Indians. His is also a familiar name in Indian design circles. As former Chairman Governing Council National Institute of Design (NID), and Chairman India Design Council (IDC), Dr. Forbes has been able to work at bridging the still large gap between industry and design in the country.
What role has design played at your company?
We hired our first professional product designer almost 30 years ago, and design has been core to our success in developing great new products since then. We would be a much less successful firm without design. Our designers are sought by all our development teams, and contribute both to product esthetics and performance.
Why should industry value design?
The same reason we do. Many great Indian companies value design and invest in it. But we are still not the norm. Only when thousands of Indian companies see design as core to their success can we claim to have arrived industrially.
How can Indian design be made to have the requisite impact on industry?
I think our key priority is scale, scale, scale. We need to produce 10 times as many designers each year, for which we need 100 times the number of qualified design faculty that we have, and we need 1,000 Indian companies that invest in and place design at the center of their technology strategy.
What is your message to young designers?
I would ask them to focus entirely on the quality of their own output as the first step. If the designer is working on, for example, a new boiler, can they confidently say that the boiler they’ve designed is the best anywhere in the world? We’re close, but are we THE best? When we do better than any other in every profession, we will then truly be a developed country.