My internship experience at Spread Design and Innovation Pvt Ltd

sakshikumari204
8 min readSep 14, 2019

My role as an intern

I joined Spread to learn Design strategy. It is something that is common in almost all design processes. Since the founders of Spread have been in the design industry for more than 20 years, they have experienced almost all possible fields of design. Spread is an startup run by one of the most experienced set of people in India. So, Spread was an ideal place for me to intern in.

Who is a Design Strategist?

A design strategist combines creative and analytical skills to deliver potent innovation strategies. He is a master storyteller and can engage his customers and clients through powerful narratives.

What made me intern as a Design Strategist?

I love ambiguous problems and thrive in making the complex simple and digestible. I have examples of wicked problem solvers around me where I have seen them arriving at successful design solutions. My father tops my list.

Work

I spent a measurable amount of time scouring the Internet to uncover the most relevant information on a particular topic or area that I was working on at Spread. I was then supposed to share the findings with the broader project team.

Projects

1. Website for The Museum of Art and Photography

MAP’s exiting website

MAP’s existing website does well to showcase its collection of Art and Photography as well as provide information regarding events and lectures.

Brief: To redesign the website that can…

  • Be used to display the museum’s vast arts collection online and make information easily accessible.
  • Help Increase footfalls in the museum.
  • Showcase the space as a place which is open and light.
  • Remove the elitist tag from Art and encourage a feeling of enjoyment, engagement, participation.
  • Serve as an e-commerce extension to showcase and sell curios from the museum shop.

My role and responsibilities

Pre project

  • Understand the brief and help in designing the project proposal
  • Set up research activities
  • Articulate the desired project outcomes

Early project

  • Help the project team frame the problems being solved
  • Choose or develop conceptual models or frameworks that direct the solution.

Design research

  • Competitors analysis
  • User research
  • Help the team synthesize the findings
  • Frame the insights of user research insights

Workshops

  • Participate in internal workshops
  • Design client workshops

Ideation

  • Make sure the final solution is in line with project briefings
  • Develop prioritization frameworks
  • Evaluate benefits

Creative direction

  • Make sure end solution meets customer needs
  • Help present final direction

Learnings:

The first skill of a strategic designer is to be able to analyse the user and the context, qualitative and quantitatively. This means observing the users, their behaviors and how they act within the context to understand their latent needs using an empathetic approach. Sitting with the team and conducting user interviews to understand the users ensured that our strategy matches different stakeholders in the most appropriate way.

2. The Dream Catchers Camp

Brief: This opportunity for the Spread team to work with 1480 students came to us fortuitously. Dr Tristha Ramamurthy, founder Ekya Schools wanted to do something very different with the children across multiple schools. The intention was to help them to get to know each other, be respectful and empathetic, feel a sense of belonging to one another and to the school. Their theme of the year for the schools for year 2019- 2020 is ‘Agents of Change’ and a core value is ‘Grit’.

Solution: The children needed exposure to design thinking, interdisciplinary ways of working and service learning at her schools. Connecting the dots, and pushing the envelope, Spread felt that the best approach would be to train the children to become Dreamcatchers* first before they can become agents of change tomorrow!

My role and responsibilities

Pre project

  • Understand how Spread designed the dream:in project
  • Understand the objectives and articulate the desired project outcomes

Early project

  • Understand how the team framed the problems to being solved
  • Help develop conceptual models that direct the solution

Design research

  • Participate in the research and help the team synthesize the findings

Workshops

  • Design, Facilitate and Ideate

Creative direction

  • Review all final creatives
  • Help execute the workshop flow

The Dream:in Project was designed as a practical exploration between academia and practice. The project has been adapted at Universities across India, Brazil and China. The tools and methodologies used for this workshop have been tested globally at design and innovation centers of learning and practice. Dreamcatching is fundamentally a positive probe and a way to record and analyse positive and futuristic qualitative and quantitative human data.

Dreamcatching has been recognized as the best and most qualitative and quantitative method to absorb and synthesize human data, to make a nucleus of dreams from where the universe can be created afresh. New business models, products and impact ventures can be created. Even songs and movements.

Dreamcatchers sessions
The Dream Tree

The camp became a fresh start for the young participants to apply their creativity, to discover their inner designer; to realise that they have the capacity for understanding, for reflection; for harvesting their own potential. They learnt ethnography, design thinking, prototyping and discovered and opportunity to create without being judged, making friends while working in mixed age teams - a whole new paradigm in learning.

Learnings:

Designers are problem solvers. However, there are different levels of problem solving. My role as a facilitators was really important during the process of the project. Co-creation workshops with students and helping the teams in idea generation, managing multidisciplinary teams was the most important thing that I learnt during this project.

3. The Design Open

Design Open was a pop up conversation which started in 2016 to trace the development of design and design thinking in the context of emerging groundbreaking products and innovative technologies, and usher in a new wave of growth in the Startup ecosystem. The first two Design Open event explored how big and small companies are leveraging design and technology to define the next, addressing big questions like:

  • How will the next generation create?
  • What are the next trends in technology, design, and paradigms?
  • How can we open up new possibilities by adding Design to Technology?

I was assigned the task to work with Spread’s design manager and senior designer to organise 3rd Design Open. It was supposed to happen on 6th and 7th of July. I was briefed about the event.

About: Design Open is an opportunity for Creators, Makers, Producers, Innovators to interact directly with engaged users in a Design Environment where Spread brings together Agriculture, Culture, Tech and Design. It is a platform to host workshops, masterclasses, launch and showcase brands and products at the popup marketplace.

My role and responsibilities

Pre project

  • Help design the project
  • Set up research activities
  • Articulate the desired project outcomes
  • Pitching to prospective clients.

Early project

  • Research and find Startups
  • Design invitations speakers

Design research

  • Design and participate in the research
  • Frame the user research insights

Ideation

  • Make sure business strategy is represented in the solution
  • Develop prioritization frameworks
  • Evaluate benefits
  • Solve user enquiries

Creative direction

  • Make sure business strategy is represented in the solution
  • Review all final creative
  • Help present final direction
  • Generate marketing content for the event

Execution

  • Design, facilitate and participate

I got an opportunity to host the event. I must say this is one of the most exciting parts of my internship. One could plan and execute your event to perfection with the entire team’s help but hosting an event was a whole other level.

Learnings:

I have managed the execution of the various activities involved in this project, from recruitment of users and influencers, to conducting and analyzing interviews, synthesizing insights, writing press releases and generating reports. Most crucial learning that is going to stay with me lifelong is the importance of building relationships with people you meet rather than only making connections ;)

Experience

The internship at Spread Design and Innovation Pvt. Ltd has been an overwhelming experience. Working in a firm for 8 weeks teaches one so much more than the task at-hand. Starting off with small research work, the progress came a long way. Even a small work that do in any kind of project holds a value. Each step gives weight-age to the communication we put across to the clients. At Spread, I was exposed to a lot of fields where I was able to expand my knowledge. From client handling to client workshops, brainstorming, research, ideations, reviews and discussions, each step was evaluated and thought before the final execution. Apart from the theory, the hands-on interactions with clients gave an insight into how to do the right pitching and that indeed, a presentation matters. Overall, this summer internship has been full of hard work, fun, learning and expanding.

Learnings

All of my past experiences have helped me in one way or another. Learning each aspect of business, whether it be operations or design, everything has added to my overall strengths and has helped me become a well rounded individual. It is very clear to me now that design strategy is not a linear approach. There are no fixed number of steps or ways in which you get the work done in this profession. One needs to be determined, passionate, courageous, open, opinionated, creative, disciplined and willing to learn continuously. I got an opportunity to work with people who are expert at translating insight into design opportunities within constraints. The experience that I gained while working with interdisciplinary teams where harmonious collaboration is imperative has made me more confident. I am now capable to guide the design process from framing a challenge, researching and taking out insights, to conceptualizing and implementation.

The best part was, I got an opportunity to apply my skills to real world human problems which was earlier limited only to artistic and academic exercises. I am now comfortable interfacing with and leading clients throughout the design process. I am now a better communicator with greater instincts about how to synthesize and tell a captivating story, build a deep rapport, and give honest feedback. I understand the strategic value and business dynamics of an organization’s service, to caring about visual design at a pixel or message level.

Design Strategists have mainly five different fields of action: Research, Problem solving, Innovation, Decision making and facilitation. And I got enough opportunities to practice all these during my internship period.

I thank my college mentor, Dr. Vibhavari Kumar for her continuous support during the project. I would like to thank the Spread team; specially my industry mentors,

and for their careful and precious guidance. I am grateful for having a chance to meet so many wonderful people and professionals who led me though this internship period.

Contact

📧 sakshi.kumari.1@nift.ac.in

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