Intangible experiences, the ones we feel, create a lasting impact on us. Remember the invisible brand, Dolby Digital, that has been synonymous with creating immersive sound experiences in a theater hall? 

With that comes the need for Product designers who need to design similar intangible experiences.

Akshay Dhamapurkar, our next pathbreaker, talks to  Shyam Krishnamurthy  from The Interview Portal  about his career path and work as Product designer.

Akshay, can you tell us about your background?

I grew up in a culturally rich suburb near Mumbai, did well in studies at school, and was naturally good at drawing and building stuff, (which has helped me being a designer at this stage) After 10th and 12th grade, I wanted to choose a stream which helped my interests, which is why I pursued Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering

What did you study?

After completing Mechanical Engineering from University of Mumbai, i did my Post Graduation in Product Design from MIT Institute of Design

How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and cool career?

Mechanical Engineering was a little too mathematical and methodical for my tastes, and I wanted to pursue something organically creative, which is when I stumbled upon an article about careers in Product/Industrial Design. I instantly knew this what I wanted to be in life and prepared myself to get in a design school for Post Graduation in Product Design

How did you plan the transition to your current career?

I worked small jobs with a small scale sheet metal production unit and at a product design studio after my B.E. as a trainee design engineering to learn more of mechanical design, the bosses there were incredibly supportive

I also learned and practised necessary basics and tools like CAD software and sketching

The turning point in my career was getting into MIT Institute of Design with an awesome set of peers. My classmates came from different backgrounds and mindsets, and they taught me things beyond what the faculty did.

Getting to work on portfolio-worthy and interesting projects was my first preference, and always looked for a good mentor

Tell us about your career path

My first break was my internship with Tata Elxsi. Got a great Industry mentor for my graduation project, and the entire design team was super talented and experiences. 

I worked on creating interaction design guidelines and user experience for a Ticket vending Machine for Kochi Metro .

My next jobs were with Design consultancies (Meshined and Designflyover). I worked on different domains such as consumer electronics, home appliances, lighting systems, consumer durables, etc.

In my next job at Dolby, I was involved in creating tangible and intangible experiences for audio and voice  products of Dolby Brand. Dolby is an experiential company in sound, cinema and voice technologies, and my role involved creating product experiences around these technologies: understanding requirements of all stakeholders involved (product users, brand/marketing team, acoustics and engineering team) and providing product solutions for achieving the magical experience which Dolby aims for. I was also assisting the global marketing team in their design needs for creating consumer experience and awareness.

Working with Dolby was another big break, I was a part of a Global Design team across 4 countries, where the whole team was world class talent. 

What were the challenges? How did u address them?

  • Challenge 1: Understanding user needs, develop qualitative research skills
  •  Challenge 2: improving in all aspects of design process
  • Challenge 3: Designing for needs of the business group of the organization as well

Where do you work now?

I’m in midst of a career transition where I’m about to move to another exciting company. Stay tuned

Designing not just products but meaningful experiences for users: to understand their needs and issues, and creating intuitive concepts which make their life easier while using these products

What skills are needed for job? How did you acquire the skills?

Keen Observation, Understanding patterns, Problem solving, Great Visualisation skills, Prototyping, Aesthetic sensibilities, manufacturing and Production know-how .

Design process and Product development is a lengthy lifecycle, each day is a different day based on what point of process I’m at. It’s either user/market research, ideation, product development, prototyping, or talking to vendors

What is it you love about this job? 

The creative nature of the design process itself, and how it connects with the business and stakeholders involved

How does your work benefit the society? 

Designers fundamentally solve problems by understanding them and creating suitable solutions/systems: be it commercial product design, social innovation, service/system design in sectors like healthcare, education etc.

Your advice to students based on your experience?

Everything in life is a lot of effort. Strive to do good work which gets implemented/ brings about value

Future Plans?

Being a design leader/mentor for future generations as my mentors have been for me