DSS Alumni Stories – Meet Neel Koradia

We present the alumni Neel Koradia, new media designer and artist. Discover his career and professional journey!

Where are you from?
Akola, India

Where are you now?
Hyderabad, India

Where do you currently work?
UX Designer at Microsoft

Tell us about your career path
My family business in Tyre Retreading influenced me to pursue Manufacturing Engineering at BITS Pilani in India. Although I ended up exploring coding, photography and finance during my graduation which piqued my interest in developing new technologies. I further went on to pursue my Master’s degree in New Media Design at NID – at the intersection of art, science, craft & tech.

I worked as a Design Research intern at Samsung to build IoT solutions for dementia patients for 6 months. In March 2019, I joined DSS and then returned to India, I started working remotely for 2 years at Fractal at the intersection of behavioral research, Design, and Strategy, building solutions for the enterprise world. Currently, I am working as a UX designer for Microsoft’s ‘Viva Learning’ product to build and improve employee learning experiences in enterprise systems.

 Looking back, I believe that my experiences gave me a broader perspective on the job I am currently seeking.

How would you describe your time at DSS?
Super exciting! It was my first time traveling outside India, getting to work with a culturally diverse set of people across continents. Coming from India, where things are more organic and chaotic to a structured, highly developed country like the Netherlands, I realized how differently people operate day-to-day. Over time, I picked up better ways of managing my time, being more efficient and respecting work-life balance. 

I was part of the Data Driven Transformation track working on Security in the Data Era partnering closely with the Dutch Police. Our team designed data-driven installations to conduct research that focused on how the current young generation could be free and feel secure in 2030? In the end, we exhibited our work at ‘The New Web’ conference and presented at Dutch Design Week. Without my team – Lama, Sascha, Ola, Mick, Eva, it wouldn’t have been so fun!

Is there something in particular that impacted you?
Being able to experience the Dutch culture –learning to be timely and very direct.

What does Digital Transformation mean to you?
I feel transformation does not always have to be digital. In isolation, digital transformation is incomplete. What is more important is identifying the right problems and staying relevant to today’s needs. Doing thorough research and then asking, will a digital solution create a significant impact in this context? In times when the definition of what digital means changes every day, I see this broadly as an attitude to approach a problem more mindfully. 

What are your sources of inspiration?
On the top of my mind, 3-4 categories broadly come to my mind.

First and foremost comes the peers and professors from NID that influenced my approach to Design, especially in the Indian context – India Report at NID, MP Ranjan, Prof. Jignesh Khakhar would be a few names.

Then comes design in the context of problem-solving. Design of Everyday Things, Just enough research; People like Don Norman, David Kelly, Jonathan Ivy, Firms like IDEO, Frog would be the inspiration.

Next is Business, Design and Technology which brings me to books like Autobiography of Steve Jobs, Principles by Ray Dalio and Essays by Paul Graham; Products like iPhone, Nintendo Switch, and digital products like Spotify, Instagram, Radio Garden.

The last is Art, Design & Technology. That would be works of Studio superflux, Art+Com; Books like Medium is the Massage; Shows like Black Mirror, Her, etc.

Any advice to share?
Focus on ideas rather than tools, which is what my time at NID has taught me. Technology and tools evolve quickly. Mastering a tool isn’t enough anymore. Rather be curious, and learn to develop a problem-solving mindset.  Don’t be afraid to push and redefine the boundaries if needed. This will help you go a long way. Experiences, people, and projects you choose to work on over the years will shape you into the designer you will eventually become.

What’s next for you?
Continuing to build products, there’s a lot to learn in the Tech world, especially trying to be user-centric and mindful of the business needs. Also, I want to continue building experiential installations and work with Creative computation & Art projects.

Connect with Neel