[Year in Review 2021] From strategy to skills – 65 quotes on the importance and impact of design

Launched in 2014, StoryBites is a regular feature from YourStory, featuring notable quotable quotes in our past articles. Share these gems and insights with your colleagues and networks, and check back to the original articles for more insights.

Drawn from our comprehensive coverage of India’s creative ecosystem, we present 65 quotes on the growing importance of design in the way we work, live and play (see our earlier compilations from 2020 and 2019). See also YourStory’s d-Zen (‘Design Zen’) section for more design resources.

We have divided the 65 quotes into 10 categories: The big picture, Pandemic impacts, The digital world, Design thinking, User experience, Management, Inclusion, Sustainability, The India story, and The road ahead.

Make it a habit to check out YourStory’s Daily Capsule, PhotoSparks photo-essays on art and design, and quotes compilations StoryBites. Our Book Review section also shares insights and takeaways from over 325 titles on innovation, entrepreneurship, design and digital transformation.

YourStory wishes all founders, changemakers and designers a Happy New Year ahead, with much success, creativity and impact!

The big picture

Design must endeavour to draw us into the moment, in order to connect with us. To reach through to someone’s emotions, one must connect with all the senses. – Siddharth Sirohi, Baro Design

Art, design, and culture are aspects that permeate everything around us. Not only are they aesthetically linked to one another, but they are also synergistic and co-dependent. – Sanjana Shah, Tao Art Gallery

Invention is not accidental. There is a process that results in innovation. And that is design. – Suresh Eriyat, Eesaurus Productions

Design by definition is meaningful and purposeful. We get to create, generate, and ideate. The world is ready for a Renaissance 2.0. Our time is now. – Preethi Gopinath, Parsons, The New School

Every object and being around you is art. Every action and reaction is a design, and the functionality and simplicity of life stem from artistry. – Ishana Girish, Chitra Santhe

A good design is always functional, efficient, and beautiful, and all the three together. – Harish Sivaramakrishnan, CRED

Design is a serious career, perhaps as important as a doctor and definitely as an engineer. You can play a role in saving lives, in creating a safe environment, in designing systems for less accidents, and in disease management. – Nandita Abraham, GUS Global Services

Pandemic impacts

Now, it is a given that skills in digital, design thinking, entrepreneurship, and innovation will be pivotal in post-pandemic era. – Ronnie Screwvala, UpGrad

Our society’s response to the pandemic has all the imprints of design thinking – human-centred, collaborative, rapid prototyping, testing, and iteration. – Vivasvan Shastri, Cisco

In a post-pandemic world, healthcare designers need to set forth innovative solutions that seamlessly blend altruism with technology to create a robust ecosystem. – Ravideep Singh, Creative Designer Architects

Living with COVID-19 has highlighted our connectedness and the importance of nurturing international collaboration. – Danielle Olsen, Wellcome Trust

Even in desperate situations, there are always winners. Some industries ended up winning big – like gaming, streaming, and related entertainment, and even alcoholic beverages, to name a few. – Yuko Shimizu, DesignUp 2021

Designer masks are going to be a big trend as masks have become an integral part of our lives. – Ameet Panchal, Ethnicity

Moving from being comfortable with certainty to being comfortable with uncertainty, has always been an important skill for designers, and the last 14 months have tested this more than most. – Andy Budd

It is important to be participative and not be passive on the sidelines. Extend your skills to not-for-profits and communities that need help. Today. – Jay Dutta, DesignUp

The digital world

AR and VR make studies interactive and communicative, which enables students to stay focused and attentive and indulge in effective learning experiences. – Uttam Kumar Pandey, Perceived Design

The apps of the future are cloud-native, designed to take advantage of the innovations on the cloud. They’ll be infused with AI and will be able to incorporate open-source tech. – Yusuf Rangwala, Microsoft India

Over the years, we have witnessed how a data fabric designed for simplicity and agility can help to monetise data and hybrid cloud to meet business demands at speed. – Madhurima Agarwal, NetApp Excellerator

The metaverse has become the newest macro-goal for many of the world’s tech giants. – Matthew Ball, EpyllionCo

The design and the content on the website is the first pitch that you make to a client. – Kkanchi Goel, MK Writes

Technical computing is stuck in a rut today. Data scientists and engineers are using products that were designed many decades ago. – Viral Shah, Julia Computing

Digitalisation will also make it easier for small and medium-sized businesses to analyse customer needs and design new products accordingly. – Yash Raj Agrawal, GimBooks

Those of us who produce content with creativity at the core face a challenge as we are fighting algorithms that don’t care for the quality of our craft. – Anindito Mukherjee, DesignUp 2021

We need to steer design towards a healthy internet which privileges community and collaboration over that of toxic cultures that pervade online. – Payal Arora, ‘The Next Billon Users’

[D]ata capture is now being built into the design of everyday objects – often without good cause, which leads to trust deficits between designers and users. – Simon Roberts, Stripe Partners

In the past, [AI and KM] have been mainly working independently. Now the time has come to co-design and co-develop intelligent solutions for better and faster decisions. – Vincent Ribière, IKI-SEA

Creativity is a constant, technology is a variable. – Fabin Rasheed, Pune Design Festival

Design thinking

Human-centred design thinking revolves around how you really build products because at the end of the day, technology is only a medium. – Spriha Biswas, Augnito

Failure is an initial glimpse of an innovative future. Appreciating the thought and effort while creating a safe space for failure to happen quickly is a cornerstone of design thinking. – Jayan Sen, Infosys

If you are in a real rush, design thinking isn’t for you, but if you can slow down your thinking, design thinking can offer some great perspectives. – Pavan Soni, Inflexion Point

Design thinking and innovation are two sides of the same coin. – Ranjit Tinaikar, Ness Global

An organisation that invests in design would ideally invest in design thinking as well. As an organisation scales, it is definitely helpful if the top management has an understanding of the necessity of a design thinking programme and invests in it. – Aparna Kongot, SAP

User experience

The hook is an experience designed to connect the user’s problem with your product, with enough frequency to form a habit. – Nir Eyal, Hooked

The best growth hacks aren’t siloed. Content works closely with design, UX, sales, and every other stakeholder. – Vaibhav Sisinty, Sisinty.com

Customer empathy is as important as salt for your business. – Nitin Sethi, Indigo Paints

To get into your customer’s shoes, you have to take your own shoes off first. – Deepa Bachu, Pensaar

Workforce, management and leadership

Building a supportive scaffolding that safeguards the innovation conversation itself is the most important contribution leaders can make. – Jeanne Liedtka, Karen Hold, and Jessica Eldridge, ‘Experiencing Design’

The human side of management is more important than ever. It has been tough on people and a good manager needs empathy. – Simon Roberts, Stripe Partners

Designers will play the role of design facilitation. They will nudge the teams to come up with solutions and provide platforms and environments where design can lead the conversation. – Manish Vashist, IBM

Current HR systems were designed to address issues from a previous era, and they have failed to keep pace with the changing nature of work and the workforce. – Ashutosh Garg, Eightfold

People realised that if they have to work from home they can work from anywhere. – Abhigyan Neogi, Chromed Design Studio

It takes a village — no design succeeds through the designer alone. You need many people to make your intention into an impactful reality. More than you think. – Dave Malouf, IxDA

Design has grown from an afterthought to a function. – Sandeep Datar, Oracle

Great design is hard to copy. – Joe Heapy, Oliver King and James Samperi, ‘Customer-Driven Transformation’


Organisations need to introduce gender-sensitive and family-friendly policies to effectively mitigate the challenges of the new work-life design. – Amanda Puravankara, Provident Housing Limited

Talent is not gender-biased. We are starting to see talented women as game artists, technical artists, game designers, game developers, game testers, and marketing leads. – Christelle D’cruz, SuperGaming

Sometimes just suggesting to build a slightly different interface, sponsoring an expert to join a project, getting minority voices heard could contribute to create a better world. – Erin Casali, Automattic

A pocket is not just a design element; it is a path to empowerment. – Minu Margeret, BlissClub


We need to think in systems, and design for sustainability in everything we do. – Anirban Bhattacharya, The Painted Sky

From fashion supply chains to retail inventory management, and craft to high tech, it is important that designers take the lead in areas where sustainability issues are often paid lip service or ‘greenwashed’. – Preethi Gopinath, Parsons School of Design

You cannot do conservation without having indigenous communities involved. And the way to do that is to engage them from the beginning, right when you design your whole programme by doing a consultative process with them and understanding their utilisation. – Rushikesh Chavan, The Habitats Trust

Our ecological practices traditionally were designed to preserve and to mitigate the overuse and depletion of resources. – Stephanie BadSoldier Snow

The India story

India has deep design, verification, firmware talent – the necessary ingredients for the success of a fabless startup. – Sateesh Andra, Endiya Partners

India is blessed to have a really rich variety of arts and crafts. – Shibani Jain, Baaya Design

The Indian healthcare system, designed for acute conditions and infectious diseases, fails to provide much-needed comprehensive care suiting the needs of chronic disease patients. – Rakesh Shivran, OneCare

Most IT solutions are designed for very large enterprises. But, SMBs require a totally different solution. – Ashish Sikka, Lenovo India

India has a large illiteracy rate. If you want to take your brands rural, you will have to design your systems for last-mile customers who don’t have a smartphone. – Anil Agrawal, DPIIT

Most [jewellery] designers don’t have distribution. – Varuna D Jani, Ruani

The wedding pattern has been changing in India since the last few years and the pandemic only accelerated the pace. People now want premium and luxury weddings. – Prerana Agarwal Saxena, Theme Weavers Designs

Most activewear brands in the country are largely focused towards men, leaving very limited options designed specifically for Indian women. – Minu Margeret, BlissClub

If we want to redesign systems keeping women in mind, it must not be just to have them enter but also to retain them. – Naghma Mulla, EdelGive Foundation

The road ahead

Good designers hope to be proven right. Great designers want to be proven wrong. You learn much more that way. – Andy Budd

Today, digital technologies are redesigning classrooms. Integration of advanced tech into the educational curriculum ensures children learn and build new skills. – Payal Gaba, BeyondSkool

The current classroom practices are designed around ‘knowledge dissemination’ and not around building skills necessary for success in the coming decade. – Amit Bansal, WizKlub

These days, I think designers might benefit from reading more books that are not explicitly about design. – Adeola Enigbokan

Human-centred design is now humanity-centred design. – Kiran Khalap, chlorophyll

YourStory has also published the pocketbook ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups’ as a creative and motivational guide for innovators (downloadable as apps here: Apple, Android).