New IDer: Apeksha Garga

by New Idiom


Please quickly introduce yourself in a quick sentence. Where are you from? Major, age, etc.

I am from India and have lived there all my life, until I came here. I did my undergraduate degree in Architecture at CEPT University, for 5 long years, where I had the best time of my life! I worked as a graphic designer for a short while after which I worked as a senior designer creating retail brand identity and customer experience. I am 27.

Politics? Interesting and understandable here, too complex to even be bothered in India

Religion? By birth, Hindu. That’s it.

How did you end up at ID? What were your motivations for coming? Where were you before?

Coming to ID was a well-planned decision. I had been working on the idea for about a year before I finally applied. The biggest motivation to be here was the fact that it the only institute that is constantly redefining design education. The institute’s process mindedness, its human centered approach and collaborative projects with the industry that offer a platform to get involved with real time issues and concerns, makes it a unique school of professional learning. Before this I was working in Idiom Design and Consulting Ltd., the biggest design consulting firm in India that works in collaboration with the business industry to create value for the stakeholders on both sides of an offering. It was a great learning experience that reinforced my decision to come to ID.

What are your first impressions about ID?

Overwhelming! The expanse of knowledge, curiosity, cultural diversity, choice of classes, different age groups; all these factors cumulatively hit me hard! Although, they also signaled that I had arrived at the right place that will be very challenging and involving.

What do you think you could bring to the people here at ID? (culturally, socially, etc.)

I would like to believe that I could bring in many perspectives to the collective learning experience (a default setting in the brain of people coming from India). The complex and inscrutable Indian experience makes it imperative for Indians to take cues from economics, demography, history, culture and good old common sense!

Is there anything from your home that you think people should not miss?

When on a trip to India, do not miss the city of Jaislamer! Please do not do a Google or Lonely Planet search before you get there. You will be killing the experience for yourself. Just land there and it will all just organically build and lead you naturally.

How was the move from India to Chicago?

My move has been an interesting experience, as much for my family as for me. My parents have come to appreciate the power of technology and become friendly to the new gadgets in their life, the computer, the web-cam, the microphone, that enable them to have a video chat with me on Skype for free! Chicago as a city seemed familiar for some reason, maybe the exposure through media over time. I liked the people (although understanding their humor is difficult), the transportation system, and the “Obama-ness”.

Having lived here now for a few months, what are the biggest differences you’ve noticed between India and the US?

Every day I identify some new differences between India and the US, although the biggest so far is the fundamental difference in the design of the infrastructure and support system of the two countries. In the US the infrastructure is very formal and designed around an “individual”; it enables or empowers individuals to do things independently. In India, the infrastructure is partly formal and partly informal and it presumes “a group of people together” performing tasks. I haven’t been able to decide which is better, but it seems like they are better or worse for different situations. But this difference is cultural; maybe related to the difference in the idea of ‘personal space’ or ‘independence’.

Which designers/thinkers have impressed you the most lately or you are following now?

I have been intrigued by Bruce Nussbaum through his innovation blog on the BusinessWeek website. I am amazed to see how this man has great insights and observations on a variety of subjects.

Tell us quickly about a project that you’re working on now that you’re really excited about.

I am really excited about the project my team is working on for data visualization. We are creating an interactive tool that helps innovators find insights through trend analysis. Once fully developed, the tool can be very powerful.

What are the websites you could not live without?

- Business Week - Design Observer - Galvin Library (now) - Google - You tube - Facebook - Wikipedia

What kinds of activities are you planning to do in your free time (in case you have any) while at ID?

Travel as much as I can, over free weekends, long weekends, holiday time; any given opportunity. I absolutely love to travel and do photography! It is the best way to informally learn and unwind.