Shilpi Gupta, Chairperson, IMS Design and Innovation Academy

IMS-DIA was established in 2005 to nurture and train design professionals with the right expertise, attitude, and creative thinking skills. Since then, IMS-DIA has been unique, fostering a design education revolution in India. The institute envisions to inspire, motivate, nurture and empower creative young minds with relevant transferable skills to be able to become successful design practitioners, creative leaders, or design entrepreneurs in the global Design Industry. “Our curriculum provides greater opportunities for self-directed learning, cross-disciplinary collaboration, and exposure to academic areas beyond the traditional boundaries of art and design”, says the chairperson of IMS-DIA, Ms Shilpi Gupta.

IMS- DIA has always imbibed the spirit of innovation amongst students. To ensure that students are encouraged to innovate and be creative, IMS-DIA takes adequate steps in that direction, such as taking them for industry and site visits, site excursions, enabling their interaction with the craftsmen, labourers, and site workers. The number of opportunities for explorations and tools required before innovating a product is also provided by the college. Field studies also help them to enhance their observational skills which ultimately helps them to innovate. To ensure their creative side gets fed from time to time, they are given various opportunities to participate in national and international competitions.

During such trying times such as this COVID pandemic, it is necessary to keep students motivated, stimulated, and excited. Keeping this in mind, IMS Design and Innovation Academy (IMS-DIA) introduced many design competitions like designing masks, designing new clothes using deconstruction of clothes they had at home, designing jewellery and fashion accessories from waste, designing posters, styling themselves, and sending their selfies, making short video clips using their mobile cameras, designing posters, body painting competition, where they submitted their entries by sending their selfies. The institute also organized story writing competitions for their students who were ardent writers.

In times where virtual classrooms, assignments, and new evaluation methods are prevailing, one can say the Higher Education Sector is all set to be revamped. Initially, it was challenging to engage the students online and get the required response out of them. But as people were spending more time on remote education in the lockdown, everyone realized that this is the new normal, and everyone will have to adjust and work with the system that has been set up. Yes, it was difficult for some students to adapt to this learning system due to the unavailability of resources like internet connection and computer system. Still, with extra help, smartphone-friendly learning material, and support from faculty, students could resume learning.

The future has been and will always be unpredictable. However, IMS-DIA was built on the ideology that students should be able to derive design solutions for future challenges that the industry might face. “Since we live in an uncertain world, one skill that always helps one is design thinking, that is to be able to question the solution and mould it according to the given challenge. This skill has been the basis on which, IMS-DIA can proudly say that it has been preparing the students for the future”, opines Prof. Kripal Mathur, Dean Academics, IMS-DIA.

Encouraging the Creative spirit in Students

The institute has incorporated various mechanisms to achieve creative outputs from students. On-the-spot competitions and recycling and upcycling workshops are held to challenge their creativity from time to time. Encouraging them to participate in annual fests of other institutions and competitions is also done to ensure that they continue to give creative outputs. Extracurricular activities are also encouraged as they play an important role in the overall creative development of an individual. “Whether it be dance or music club or a Film and Drama Club, we give importance to all and help our students to think creatively. Various inspirational and motivational movies, documentaries, and TED- Talks are screened in the college to help them to develop their creative instinct. IMS – DIA provides the platform and variety of opportunities to students to develop the creativity”, says Prof. Kripal Mathur, who has taught in NIFT for more than three decades.

Adjusting to the “New Normal”

With a sudden change in work and lifestyle, COVID-19 changed everything drastically in IMS-DIA. The faculty at IMS-DIA took up the challenge and gave their full support and contribution in facilitating the smooth working of the institute. All the faculty were assigned tasks and responsibilities for the day to be carried out and, in the end, submit a daily report of the work status. This helped in maintaining a transparent system of performance evaluation and monitoring the workflow. A lot of faculty were already comfortable with using digital mediums, for ‘work from home or ‘teach from home’, but for many, it required some training and technical assistance, which the IT professionals immediately provided at the institute. So, one can safely say that the challenges that this situation gave rise to were dealt with perseverance in IMS-DIA.

Having adapted to Remote Education quite well, everyone is well acquainted with video calling software like Zoom and Google Meet. Students are receiving their lessons via mail, and assignments are designed considering the restrictions and unavailability of resources during the lockdown. Ms Shilpi Gupta explains, “Practical assignments on garment construction for Fashion design students included repurposing a garment available in their homes- a project that mirrors the reality in which everyone is learning to make do with limited resources.”

 Exam papers were also designed according to the current situation. The question papers were very precise, objective in nature, and tightly time-bound. The time duration of the examination was also reduced to prevent wasting of time, malpractice, and prompt submission of answer sheets online, and students were asked to click a photograph of themselves holding the first page bearing their roll numbers, which was sent across to the faculty to ensure that they have finished at that particular time. “All this has made us future-ready and even made us realize that the future education will not be limited by distance; it can be made available to a student who does not live nearby”, Ms Shilpi Gupta adds.

Ensuring Smooth Transition from Academia to Industry

Stimulating students to work harder is an ongoing process at which one keeps on getting better with experience. IMS-DIA has taken various steps to do so, such as organizing seminars with leading designers, site excursions, inspirational talks, and speeches. Various site visits also inspire students to work for their dreams by seeing the industry work being done. To help them focus on their careers, a plethora of workshops and activities are being done in IMS-DIA to help them to learn about the real and practical knowledge of the design industry.

The institute has taken various steps in this direction by hiring a team of dedicated faculty from national and international institutions such as NID (Ahmedabad), NIFT, Delhi School of Art, Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi, LDT Nagold, GIA (Gemology Institute of America). Prof. Kripal Mathur, Dean-Academics, IMS-DIA mentions “The faculty bring with them a plethora of industry connections through their work, design projects, years of experience, and their distinguished alumni, who have worked with top designers like Tarun Tahiliani, Satya Paul, Manish Arora, Sabyasachi, Rajesh Pratap Singh, Raw Mango, Charcoal, Reliance, Van Heusen, Arvind Mills, etc. Our faculty have also worked with prestigious names like STUP Consultants, Royston Hanamoto Alley and Abey, Kiran Nadar Museum, Township Art Project, DMRC Art Installations, Tanishq, Mine of Design, PC Jewellers, D’Damas, etc.”

Since 2005, IMS-DIA has been providing professionals with Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Fashion Design, Interior Design and Painting. Currently, IMS-DIA is been offering diploma in Exhibition and Set Design, Interior Design, Textiles for Fashion and Fine Arts. IMS-DIA is also providing short term certificate programs, namely, Design Basics, Fashion Design- Women’s wear, Fashion Illustration and Interior Styling. 

96% of the students at IMS-DIA are placed in renowned design firms such as GAP, Arvind mills, Scarlett India, Impulse, Myntra, Jabong, Tommy Hilfiger, Nida Mahmood, Calvin Klein, etc. The interior design students got placed in firms like The Fine Interiors Galaxy Corporations, Studio Praxis, Innerface Designers, Vistaar Design, Prayog Shala Manifesto, Asian Paints, etc. “Despite the challenges faced by the students who graduated last year, due to COVID -19, they managed to mark their presence in the design industry by getting placed in renowned design firms such as Lemon Tree Hotels, Regent Lightings, Studio Praxis, Raheja Developers, Satya Paul, Fabindia, Pantaloons, Clovia, Shoppers Stop, etc.”, adds Prof. Kripal Mathur.

Paving the Road to Excellence

IMS-DIA has always strived to progress in design education and will continue to do so in the future. Various plans are being worked out to enhance the design education in the college, such as formulating the Design Incubation Centre where young designers can start up their idea under the guidance of experienced mentors, so that they can start up the same outside in the industry and gain the confidence that students, sometimes, lack after graduating from the college. This center will help the students to be able to set up their business and the opportunity to build a prototype of the idea/product with appropriate guidance.

A continuous effort to revamp and refresh the interiors and built environment of IMS-DIA is also one of the plans that are being undertaken currently. Green initiatives continue to be the need of the hour, and Social responsibilities as designers too are an important part of the plans of IMS-DIA. “Although Craft Cluster Initiatives have always been the part of IMS-DIA, we are planning to increase the efforts being done in this direction. As one of the worst-hit communities by COVID- 19 is the crafts sector, we are aiming to be the backbone of the design industry and serve as inspiration for various designers globally”, concludes Prof. Kripal Mathur. 

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About Shilpi Gupta, Chairperson, IMS-DIA

A creative Fashion Brand Management Graduate from UCLAN, UK. A charismatic leader, Shilpi  Gupta is the founder and the visionary behind the establishment of IMS – DIA  in 2005 to impart quality education in the field of  Design Education. She is the CEO of a highly successful venture ‘Surkhab Exports’,  a women’s wear couture brand, known for meticulous craftsmanship, design sensitivity & sophistication.  Her work has been showcased in Milan, London, Dubai & La Villa.  She has recently launched her own label, SHILPI GUPTA COUTURE, a collection promoting Indian culture and textiles through contemporary design.

Shilpi Gupta has put immense efforts to make DIA a world-class design college by providing intensive international exposure to the students through student exchange, international participation in workshops, conferences, exhibitions, study programs abroad, and global internships. Her goal is to produce design `gurus` and innovators who write their own success stories in the world.

About Prof. Kripal Mathur, IMS-DIA, Dean Academics

A Design Professional of high repute & Alumnus of the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, India. Prof. Kripal has a UNDP fellowship from Central Saint Martins, London.

Prof. Kripal established the Textile Design Department at NIFT in 1994. She has been a senior design educator for almost 3 decades at NIFT, New Delhi. She has held many portfolios like, Head of the Textile Design Department, Knitwear Design Department & the Foundation Department, Registrar at NIFT & Link Dean, NIFT, during her tenure.

As a successful designer & textile artist, Prof. Kripal has worked on design projects with UNESCO, International Wool Secretariat, Indian Railways, developing trend forecast for DC Handloom, Hyundai, UNDP carpets, Indian Airlines, amongst others. As a textile artist, she has exhibited her textile art works at a number of exhibitions in India and France.

Prof. Mathur has  presented many research papers at prestigious conferences and institutions in India and abroad. She has a number of research publications to her credit.

Dean Academics Prof. Kripal Mathur carries with her the legacy of three decades where her students are at leading positions in companies like Amazon Fashion, Louis Phillippe – Aditya Birla Group, ITC Wills Lifestyle, H & M, Zara, Royal Enfield etc. Many of her students have gone on to open their fashion labels like Raw Mango, Charcoal, Pebbles etc. 

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