Is art ever free of science? Those saints and madmen who hold brushes to a canvas, and make known their every ideal, their every dilemma, do they instantly desire something more than approval, or acceptance? Designers of art are no different. At least, 23-year-old industrial designer Diya Sharma is one such designer.
“Most of us don’t even realise how natural design is. Even as children, we would constantly designing things, think: walls and cars and people made of lego,” says Sharma, who is the lead visual interaction designer at Sindeo, a San Francisco startup on a mission to make the mortgage industry faster, simpler and more personalised. “I’d like to believe another word for design is problem solving,” she adds, and gives the example of hair clutches that might be meant to keep our hair in one place but can be used to cover open packets of chips. In 2010, she and her team competed for International Genetic Engineered Machine at MIT as the only designers among the crowd of engineers and biologists. They decided to question the idea that synthetic biology or biology, for that matter, could be done only with high-end scientific equipment. They constructed lab instruments out of cheap, readily available material.
Sharma then made up her mind and moved to Rhode Island School of Design. Here, she worked on designing healthier hospitals wherein she created sinks with different levels of elevation that can be accessed by children and the wheelchair bound. “Usually, accessories that cater to those with special needs aren’t pleasing to the eye. The delicate curvatures and faucets that create fabulous cascades changed all that,” says Sharma, who has also designed new generation smoke detectors that can be synced to smartphones. This particular project has been pitched to Duracell batteries. She’s also done tableware with neodymium magnets that holds onto cups and bowls, so people spill a lot less in airplanes or at parties on ship decks.
“If the last century was about science and technology, the coming centuries will be about art and technology,” she professes. Have we finally learned how to think with the heart? It’s a start.