Amongst all the plagues that ail the tribe of mother-of-eligible-children, perhaps the greatest is attending marriage ceremonies. Needless to say, contamination is usually followed by profound anxiety and attempts of cajoling the children. What aggravates the malaise is the fact that such already anxious mothers are exposed to harmful levels of interaction with the dangerous-well wisher kind of women at such ceremonies. Their sweet smiles and light hearted banter mercilessly decimate the immune system of the mother-of-eligible-children. Soon the mother is afflicted with a sense of impending doom.
Sometime ago, my mother had been faced with a similar threat. However, what saved her (and me as a consequence) was the ambiguity of the nature of my profession.
Woman : So, when is your son's wedding ?
Mom : I don't know. He says he needs some more time.
It's up to him, I have told him, "You are free to find yourself a girl".
Woman : No girlfriends ?
Mom : God knows what he does. I tell him to go out and meet girls.
Woman : But he is a designer, no ? There must be lots of pretty models he meets...
Thankfully, this is where the conversation takes its turn. Soon my mom was explaining to the woman, what kind of a designer I am. Explaining, the only kind of models that surround her son are made from wood, clay or foam and are seldom, if ever, anthropomorphic.
There in lies the blessing and the bane of my profession. Most people in this country have no idea, what is that we, industrial designers, do.
People who have known me from earlier and know that I was studying architecture once, naturally presume that I design industrial buildings like factories and warehouses. Others just presume whatever it is that they want to.
The first presumption is quite prevalent though. I know of a real life instance, when a student of architecture chose Industrial Design as elective course, because he wanted to specialise in making factories. The poor soul had his dreams shattered the very first day.
Awareness of our profession is so low that in job sites like Naukri and Monster (India), there is no job category for Industrial Designers. You must be content with selecting Others as a category. And then you shall be inundated with mails promising lucrative jobs as welders in the Arabian shores or as sheep shearers in the Kiwi meadows.
Perhaps,this lack of awareness about our profession is not limited to our country alone. I believe the awareness of a profession in a certain culture can be suitably gauged by the instances of that profession or professionals in pop culture. In order to evaluate how much a profession has been assimilated into the consciousness of a people, we must look for it in its movies, music,fiction, etc. Hence my hypothesis.
We find doctors, engineers, scientists in the movies from Bollywood. Of late we even find fashion designers and architects. But the industrial designer is missing.
Even Hollywood, remains marked by its abstinence in the portrayal of industrial designers. Though microbiologists and paleontologists make it to the mass consciousness thanks to Jurassic Park and the likes.
The only instance I remember of the portrayal of an industrial designer is in Runaway Bride. But even that is wink-and-you-miss type. Only once in the movie is it mentioned, that Maggie Carpenter (Julia Roberts) was studying Industrial Design before she came back to run her family hardware store. No wonder that most movie sites, including IMDB, make no mention of it.
Such is the nature of the devil; while Ipods sell by the millions, our profession remains largely unknown.