Arshi Sayed has been wracking her brains in for about a week to create a new brand image for an important client. Sayed’s job is tough because there are nine others competing for the same slice of corporate work in the business nerve centre of Mumbai. Yet, what makes the young Sayed’s efforts stand out is that she is still a student, just like her competitors. At the Ecole intuit.lab in Mumbai where Sayed is a fourth-year visual communication student, working on real-time jobs are part of the campus life. “You are constantly creating in the school,” beams Sayed, who is graduating next year.
Industry runs in the blood here
At the Ecole intuit.lab, the students are trained to be industry-oriented and industry-ready. It helps as the school has a world-class integrated communications agency on the campus. Whyness, the agency founded by advertising guru Ravi Deshpande, shares space with Ecole intuit.lab. The school students constantly work at Whyness to grab a pie of high-profile ad jobs like Sayed’s three-member team and nine other similar competitors, all students. “Before they receive their diplomas, our students already have one foot in the industry,” says Yan Garin, Director of Operations at the Ecole intuit.lab, Mumbai. The model of teaching is based on the industry. “We teach to replicate what is happy in the industry,” says Garin. When the ten teams of the school’s students working on the Whyness project are ready with their final product, one will be selected.
Programme: Diploma in Visual Communication (four years)
Eligibility: Class XII
Selection Process: School’s own Creative Intelligence Test (psychology test, written and oral test) and portfolio
“We don’t ask them to be Picassos”
Ecole intuit.lab in Mumbai is the third campus of the French graphic design and visual communication institute after Paris and Aix-en-Provence. The Mumbai campus, set up in 2010, follows a tie-up by its three French founders -- Patrick Felices, Clement Derock and Frederic Lalande -- with Deshpande. The school’s vision is to produce highly skilled designers and art directors attuned to the needs of the corporate world. The Mumbai school offers a four-year diploma in Visual Communication to candidates selected after a Creative Intelligence Test, which includes a psychology test, written and oral tests and a check on their portfolios. “We don’t ask them to be Picassos, but we want them to have the desire to learn design,” says Garin, who acts as liaison between intuit.lab in Paris and Mumbai.
From visual to digital communication
The Visual Communication course has four major domains: First is the print universe and traditional graphic design, which include page layout, typography, editorial design and practical printing techniques. “The print industry maybe going down, but all the basics are needed for even the biggest digital companies,” says Garin. Second is branding industry, such as communication tools of naming, visual identities, logo design, brand manual and tone of voice of brand. Third comes advertising, which is the same as branding, but more about products. “Branding is timeless whereas advertising is spanned in the present,” explains Garin. Advertising also includes learning art direction, copy writing and publicity. The fourth and final domain is digital communication, which includes user experience and psychology.
All the above is blended with graphic design, human sciences and photography to complete the training. “I wish I had done this course,” jokes Garin, referring to the wide gamut of learning at the school curriculum compared to the same a decade or two ago. During the course, the Mumbai students travel to the Paris campus for one semester, learning the same thing, but in a different approach suited to France. The school also conducts students’ trips to Paris and Aix-en-Provence campuses. Workshops and master-classes are a must for students to get an international perspective.
Almost all the schools’ teachers are visiting professors from countries like Canada, France and the Netherlands. “Our first two years are rigorous enough to enter the industry,” says Co-Dean Jamila Q Varawala, the only permanent academic member at the school, an expert in teaching methodology and sequential thinking. The Ecole students have company logos for Coffee & Cheese outlet and even sustainable packaging that could be reused for a trekking company that ships goods.
One of the defining characters of Ecole.intuit.lab is its constant stress on adapting its curriculum to absorb the changes happening in the industry and the world. The school, which adapts the French curriculum to the Indian audience, implementing methodology and developing/experimenting operations fitting current and future market, revisits its curriculum to reflect the realities on the ground. The changes to the curriculum are made on the basis of general knowledge, news, monitoring trends and feedback from industry professionals. For example, the school shifted one subject, motion design, from third year to second year because it felt the students needed to learn about it earlier. In another change in curriculum, digital design was shifted from fourth year to first year. “Every six months, we coordinate with our Paris campus to revise the curriculum,” says Garin.
“We teach design thinking before everything else,” says Garin, a documentary filmmaker and a motion design and animation expert. “We keep on adapting to the market. We really want our students to be ready with technology, that is used today and tomorrow,” he added. The school also keeps an eye on the research in visual communication, software and systems. One of the most important components of the training is user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design.