New IDer: Prashant Desai

by New Idiom


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

Hi, my name is Prashant Desai. I’m a first-year foundation student and MDes candidate. I’m 25 years old and originally from the suburbs of Chicago.

Married? Not married
Children? No kids.
Politics? While I support Barack Obama, I do not align myself with either the Democratic or Republican parties – I support change! This is an exciting time to become an active American.
Religion? I believe in peace and love, not push and shove.

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

After graduating from Johns Hopkins University with a degree in Psychological and Brain Sciences, I ventured into the world of business. I briefly worked in brand equity research at a boutique marketing consultancy here in Chicago. Following that, I moved into the world of finance and worked at Standard & Poor’s in a variety of capacities – first as a Municipal Credit Rating Analyst in Public Finance, and then in Product Development & Marketing. The latter role, though more creative, focused mostly on product management and moving offerings to market. I desired skills that would allow me to organically conceptualize new product and service ideas and fully utilize my creative strengths. While working at S&P, I also completed my MBA at the Stuart Graduate School of Business. I was impressed by the design skills and other creative strengths that a few of my classmates exemplified. After learning they were ID students as well, I attended an open house. Inspired by this burgeoning field, I was convinced that it was perfect for me. The rest as they say – is history.

What are your first impressions about ID?

Having just completed my first semester of Foundation, I found myself thinking about this very question just a few days ago. My first impression of ID was positive. Being that the student body is a self-selected group, I was happy to meet many like-minded, creative, and jovial people. I found my peers and colleagues to be exceptionally intelligent, motivated, and hilarious as well.

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

I bring a fine balance of subjective and objective creativity. My sense of creative idealism is tempered by a desire to create economically viable business opportunities. I believe modern innovation requires an integration of human centered design with business insight and analysis. I hope to share these insights with my peers and colleagues. Socially, I love making people laugh and joking around in general.

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

I hail from a suburb outside Chicago called Naperville. I highly recommend spending half a day at The Morton Arboretum in either the early spring, or fall. It boasts an international collection of nearly 4,000 different kinds of trees, plants, and shrubs. It’s possible to drive through it in about 30 minutes, however, I’d recommend spending a day exploring it’s 14 miles of hiking trails. Bring your camera.

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

I’ve recently educated myself about the late Victor Papanek. I’m intrigued by his belief in socially and ecologically responsible design. I’m very interested in the value of simplicity and ethical design in general. I recently picked up Papanek’s book, Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change. Being that I am also interested in politics, policy, and government in emerging nations, I’ve recently begun learning about leadership during the first Indian empire. I’m most intrigued by Chanakya, an adviser and prime minister to the first Maurya Emperor, who was a pioneering economist and architect of the first Indian empire. He was rather controversial, but I find his insights on welfare, and international relations quite interesting.

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

Given I am on winter break right now, I’ve spent a good amount of my time working on a non-academic project. I’ve been working with family and friends to brainstorm a new non-profit organization. Our fundamental goal is to raise awareness and enable those who participate to exercise their right to be active citizens. In addition to this - we aspire to provide an open forum for like-minded individuals who believe in peace.

What are the websites you could not live without?

  • drudgereport
  • metacritic
  • onion
  • wallstreetjournal
  • digg
  • google
  • pitchforkmedia

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

In my free time I’m a singer/songwriter currently looking to form a band. I like attending concerts and exploring museums. I love working out and playing sports (tennis/basketball). I’m planning on taking an acting class at Second City this spring.

This blank space is for you to tell people whatever you want about you.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m looking to form a non-profit organization. I have a variety of ideas already in motion and I’d love to brainstorm with my fellow ID’ers should there be any interest. Feel free to drop me a line at