Luminaries of the gems and jewellery industry got together recently at Design Connect, a forum and a recruitment drive for young and aspiring jewellery designers who are often looking to make inroads into the industry. The event was conceptualized by both GJSCI and WJA, to provide a platform for designers who are looking to connect with jewellery retailers and manufacturers. It kicked off with a riveting panel discussion on “Designers: Their Path to Discuss” which was moderated by Nirupa Bhatt, MD, GIA, India & Middle East.

The panel had ace jewellery designer Poonam Soni, Vaishali Banerjee, MD, Platinum Guild International (India), Colin Shah, Vice Chairman, GJEPC & MD Kama Schachter and Aftab Bandukwala, Director V Design Architectural Solutions. The event was also felicitated by Anantha Padmanabhan, Chairman, GJC. “We need to create similar workshops for artisans and as an industry we need to take a corporate approach. Earning money and advertising is just a part of the business, but we need to work together as an industry and that is how our exports will increase,” he said.

The panel discussion which was meant to educate and inform the audience outlined the intricacies involved in both designing and becoming an established designer. “We should remember who we are designing for. Consumers are changing everyday - so we should also look at the business reality. One needs to get out there and continuously learn,” said Vaishali Banerjee.

On interns bringing fresh perspective to the table, Colin Shah said, “We work with a variety of people – there is the cadre of experienced people but we also realised that fresh talent have a lot of ideas and we always tend to find a bright spark in them.” Being a designer also involves finding inspiration and ideas and most designers don’t know where to begin. “Visit as many trade exhibitions as possible, you get so many ideas there. Instead of trying to be jack of all trades, one must find his or her niche and be very specific. Also, social and communication skills are very important in this field. We also learn a lot from interns,” said Poonam Soni.

Drawing an analogy between architecture and interior designing and jewellery designing, Aftab Bandukwala said, “Logistics of studying design in both fields are similar. Becoming established in architecture is very difficult, you need the right inroads and connections but with the interior design things move more quickly. Challenges in both fields are similar, I would say the learning is a little more structured in my field – you need a minimum of 6 months diploma in architecture if you want to begin a career in the same.”

The panel agreed that design competitions are a healthy way of judging one’s talent and an effective way to take stock of where one stands in terms of skill. The panel discussion was followed by a recruitment drive and a one on one mentoring sessions where industry experts gave the participants useful career tips.