Tech Meets Design with Gautam Tewari

The thing with all great things is that there needs to be a start. No start means no outcome and every great idea, without a start, can potentially remain just that – just an idea.

It was about Christmas time last year when my dear friend Narita’s WhatsApp message popped up on my phone. At first I thought it must have been another holiday greeting so I got on with whatever it was that I was doing. But within five seconds it struck me that Narita never sends general greeting messages. I had to immediately pick up the phone and that day, after the stint with Paperspace Asia at Paperwork Singapore the week prior, I was so glad that I saw the message right away.

Our exchange over the next few minutes was about the Singapore Design Week and how to integrate SmartVizX Virtual Reality product with the launch. It was a pretty cool thought but had its serious set of challenges given the fact that we are not always in Singapore. We agreed on a time to speak and ideate, and ideate we did. We had agreements around hardware and the early access program soon enough but the real challenge was who will; first, test the product and second, demo it to the users without us being there. So, this blog is not about Narita or me. This is about the true champions of the Singapore Design Week – Apprentices at The Node.

We built this product with a different vision for the present and future users. Our hypothesis was that the current students of design, who will be the future users of our product, are actually the future of the product as well. And that hypothesis stands truly vindicated today. The team of apprentices – Kester Lim, Siang Wee, Rachel Wong, Theresa Ng – took to the product better than anyone else we have seen to date. The diligence levels of the apprentices were truly remarkable and grasping a technology as new as Virtual Reality and becoming adept at it at such a short notice speaks volumes of the comprehension abilities of these young minds. While they were all putting in 14 hour days in the week leading to and the week of the Design Week, we were all still concerned that the time was just not enough to put in a good enough show.

The apprentices demonstrated spectacular learning and adoption skills and outperformed all us senior pros while all along we believed we were the ones with the bragging rights. Within days we witnessed that their understanding of the product was getting better than the rest of us. It was surely a validation of our hypothesis that this was technology for the younger generation but their efforts deserve a special mention. It needs to be understood that early versions of the product were put out there as trial runs. The frame rates, which are most critical for a virtual reality based solution, were still not up there but that did not bring about any paucity of effort on their part. For any change to be adopted and accepted, it needs to be embraced first with all its shortcomings and this is exactly what was adequately demonstrated by each apprentice. They have been an amazing bunch of willing learners and this trait will hold them in good stead in their careers ahead.

It has been an absolute pleasure and a privilege to have worked with this team. As long as we have designers like them coming into the profession, we can all feel really confident of passing the baton. We all wish them the very best and look forward to making them a part of our product plans ahead. We would happily recommend them to other design firms as well.