CAR DESIGN INTERVIEW - Swaroop Roy is an Automotive Designer with experience working for Tata, Hyundai and Renault for over 12 years. He will be sharing his journey and thoughts as an Automotive Designer today.

Where are you from, and how is the car design scene there? 

I am from India, Car Design is very young here right now but it’s growing rapidly due to the market needs.

When did you first think about becoming a car designer in your life?

I have been very passionate about sketching since my childhood and wanted to choose a profession where I can sketch a lot and be creative. It was during my Mechanical engineering when I met Mr Ratan Tata in his office in Bombay to present him a portrait made by me. He mentioned Tata Motors design studio after seeing my freehand sketches of cars, bikes and machines. I was very much inspired and started to do research about it and gradually wanted to become a car designer.

From where did you complete your education and how proper design education can get you close to your dream of becoming a designer?

I had done my design education at the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati. But my actual learning happened when I was at Tata motors. I learned a lot from my colleagues and seniors. But now the scenario has changed in India, where new colleges have come up dedicated to Car Design so that young people can achieve their dream to become car designers. 

Does the reputation of the college matter for an individual's career?

No, I don’t believe that because it depends on the individual, and how passionate he or she is in terms of their work. Sometimes the college provides the right platform to nurture the talent but the individual needs to push their limits to move ahead in their career path.

Can you tell a bit about how you made a shift from your academic world to the professional world?

Well, my decision to be in academia was to explore and share my creativity with the best young minds. I stayed there for about 2 years and felt like returning back to the industry to experience new challenges.

How was your career path from the beginning up to today so far?

My career path was like a roller coaster with ups and downs but had made different people of different nationalities and learned a lot throughout. Got the opportunity to work on various production and advanced projects.

Which one project do you think was the most challenging project during college and what one challenging project did you work on during your job?

My first car project during my college was challenging because I had to make the model of my car using clay but it was very difficult and expensive to get industrial clay at that time so I ended up using potters clay. When the clay dried it started to crack and was a nightmare to fill the cracks each time. In the end, I somehow completed it and it was not bad. And during my job, each and every project is unique and challenging at the same time. Specifically, the production project where we negotiate with engineers for mm’s. 

After studies, a student should approach a design studio or a big OEM. What do you have to say on this?

I feel both are good at their own place. A design studio is open to an “explore and learn" attitude and OEMs are more of a “learn from the experience” attitude. It totally depends on how the individuals think and their attitude toward design.

What's the main difference between working with Foreign OEMs and Indian OEMs? 

I personally feel foreign OEMs are very open-minded in terms of conceiving design ideas but on the other hand, Indian OEMs are a little conservative. But in current days the scenario of Indian OEMs is changing and evolving to match the needs of the volatile market.

When recruiting, do you think the company also looks beyond the portfolio? The different skills of a person could be management, digital marketing, and many more.

Yes, they do. It’s not only about the beautiful sketches but also about the interpersonal skills of the individual; they always look for a great team player. And nowadays in the era of digital media, digital marketing and a few managerial skills are a plus. 

What are your views on future mobility? 

The future mobility is not going to be cars but it’s going to be intelligence on wheels. Cars will become mobile assistance like how mobile phones became a part of our life and provide solutions to lots of problems instantaneously. Mobility will not only provide transportation from point A to point B but will offer more than that both emotionally and physically. Web 3.0 and metaverse are going to play a major role in it.

What impact does covid have on the automotive industry?

Covid had a great impact on the automobile industry in terms of sales but on the other hand, had created a vast opportunity to optimize and rethink their various processes to achieve results with effective cost and efficiency. People are connected virtually and lots of new ways of management are coming into the picture. I see all industries, not only automotive, have evolved somehow after the pandemic. 

Any piece of advice you have for upcoming transportation design students?

One thing I want to say to all the upcoming design talents is “ keep calm and keep sketching???? you should be very honest with yourself and eye for a design hero whom you would be like one day and keep practising till you match his level. And in this journey keep comparing your today’s self with your yesterday’s self, this will give you the confidence and enthusiasm as the fuel to move forward.