Technical Textiles, also called Performance Textiles, have non-apparel applications and are widely used in the automotive industry.

Arti Desai, our next pathbreaker, Senior Woven Technical Textile Designer (R&D), works on New Product development and Design, R&D of Performance Textiles for applications in the Automobile Industry. 

Arti talks to Shyam Krishnamurthy from The Interview Portal about taking up a career in Textile Technology which combined her creative interests with science & technology.

For students, Automotive textiles are an integral part of our vehicles whether they are used for comfort, safety or technical purposes !

Arti, what were your initial years like?

I was born in a small town in Gujarat state of India called Gandhidham in a Hindu family. My father is a doctor MBBS & a gold medalist from MBBS Medical College of Jamnagar (Gujarat) & mother is a housewife. Since my childhood, I have seen a self-made father who started his career with zero resources & studied with scholarship throughout his college. I was always inspired by my father & had a creative and scientific approach since my birth. As he started as a government medical officer, his job involved a lot of transfer from village to village. Finally one day we moved to Ahmedabad city of Gujarat & I started my school from there.

What did you study?

I did science at school level and took admission in textile technology in L D College of Engineering, Ahmedabad. Meanwhile, I did many other courses in creative textiles like Auto-CAD (which was a new program at that time) & TEXCAD. Slowly, I started creating apparel woven designs on CAD. I successfully completed a degree in textile technology in 1995.

What were the influences that led you to such an offbeat, unconventional and cool career?

Since my school days, my interests have always been in a creative direction. I always liked activities like drawing, dancing, singing & music. I took classes for traditional Indian classical music & Bharathanatyam and learned Piano as well. I always tried my original way of learning things irrespective of conventional process & school practices. I am a great listener & quick learner. Gradually & naturally, I started liking science & decided to move forward with the science stream. I ended up doing a BTech in Textile Technology which combined my interests in creativity and science.

Tell us about your career path

One of the newest & most advanced companies, Ashima Syntex, a high value cotton textile manufacturing company, began operations during that time. I got selected as a textile designer in their plant, through campus interview in our college. It was a wonderful opportunity because I was the first technical designer trainee for the company. I got a chance to start from scratch and establish a fresh new department as a creative cell combined with production planning activities! I went through an impressive learning curve for the first 5 years & got an opportunity to take interviews of final year students from my college, to hire them to work for my company, in my department. Gradually & slowly, a group of people joined the same company.

Throughout my 19 year career in the same company, I learned a lot & was promoted from Technical Trainee to Head of the Dept. I learned warping /weaving /processing /colour matching for various products such as fine value cotton shirting, bottoms, denims etc, as well as managed a design studio with all presentations of the creative range of Denim & Bottom wear Garments.

How did you get your first break?

I got my 1st break through campus interview/.

After doing all the enthusiastic things at Ashima, we got a family permanent residency visa in the United States from my sister-in-law. Eventually, my son wanted to study in the USA. It was hard for both me & my husband to leave all this & move. We took a call to move along with my son, & I started looking for a good job in the USA. The rest is history!

What were some of the challenges you faced?

While studying in 12th Science, I wanted to become a doctor like my father, but could not achieve the score needed. I took this as a challenge to do something better than a medical career. Sometimes it is hard to choose your hobby & passion as a career! Although many medical related fields were open (Dentist, Physiotherapist, microbiologist), I picked Textile designing! I always believed that I am an Artist!!

Tell us about your current role

Since 2017, I have started a new life in the USA. It was challenging & hard to get a professional job in the USA, especially with all my experience from a different country. With a lot of patience & self-belief, I kept applying for different textile fields. After 6 months, it became frustrating & I decided to go back to India. It was a heartbreaking decision though I did not give up completely. One day, I got an interview call from a leading automotive technical textile company!!! I got selected & am currently designing for automotive textiles. I work on creative designs with advanced technology setup.

Automotive textiles are performance textiles or technical textiles, which have applications in car interiors for seating, bolster, door panels, headliner etc. They are completely different from fine value cotton textiles, where end use is apparels. Working with advanced equipment & facilities in this field enhances creativity with logic!

Any specific memorable work?

I created a Denim Shirting design concept which was innovative & the entire customer base was surprised! That made our company one of the Top indigo shirting design manufacturers. We supplied that to well-known international brands like GAS, GAP and many other European brands. It was original Art that I am proud of!

How does your work benefit society?

Nowadays, technology combined with design is addressing sustainability challenges which helps nature & thus society to complete the eco-cycle. This leads to a healthy & prosperous tomorrow!

Your advice to Students?

Always stay positive! Stay calm, stay hungry. Follow your passion!!!