Understanding Design

By Prof. Nina Sabnani   |   IIT Bombay
Learners enrolled: 1124
We are surrounded by designed objects, from highways that traverse thousands of kilometers to a pen drive that fits a lot in the smallest of spaces. Designers have used their skills to translate ideas and needs into all the objects that we see around us. Design can be interpreted in multiple ways and can mean different things in different contexts. This course aims to create an awareness and understanding of the discipline of design and its multidisciplinary nature. The relevance and value of design and how it impacts society, industry and the environment is established through lectures, case studies and project activities.
This course is for those who are curious to understand what design is and why is it important.

INTENDED AUDIENCE : This course is for students who would like an introduction to the field of design and its relationship with other disciplines. It is also for those who would like to collaborate with designers for their future work. It is open to all. Mainly for Engineer, Design and Management students
Course Status : Completed
Course Type : Elective
Duration : 4 weeks
Category :
  • Design Engineering
  • Multidisciplinary
Credit Points : 1
Level : Undergraduate
Start Date : 25 Jul 2022
End Date : 19 Aug 2022
Enrollment Ends : 08 Aug 2022
Exam Date : 25 Sep 2022 IST

Note: This exam date is subjected to change based on seat availability. You can check final exam date on your hall ticket.

Page Visits

Course layout

Week 1 :
  • Module 1- An Introduction to Design, 
  • Module 2- Users and Context
Week 2 :
  • Module 3-Design and Society, 
  • Module 4 - Design and Sustainability
Week 3 :
  • Module 5 - Design and Industry, 
  • Module 6 - Design and collaboration
Week 4 :
  • Module 7 - Innovation by Design

Books and references

  1. Ansell, C & Torfing J (eds) (2014). Public Innovation through Collaboration and Design. London and New York: Routledge.
  2. Antonneli, Paola (2005). Humble Masterpieces: everyday marvels of Design. Harper Collins Publishers.
  3. Baxter, Mike (1995). Product Design. London Glasgow New York: Chapman & Hall.
  4. Brown, Dan M (2013). Designing Together. New Riders.
  5. Doordan, Dennis (ed) (2000). Design History: An Anthology. Cambridge, London: MIT Press.
  6. Heskett, John (2002). Design: a very short introduction. Oxford University Press.
  7. Geist, Valerius (1978). Life Strategies, Human Evolution, Environmental Design: towards a biological theory of health . New York, Heidelberg, Berlin: Springer-Verag Lawson, Brian (2006).
  8. How Designer’s Think: The design process demystified. Routledge.
  9. Highmore, Ben (ed) (1975). The Design Culture Reader. London and New York: Routledge.
  10. Kepes, Gyorgy (ed) (1966). The Man-Made Object. Studio Vista London.
  11. Norman, Don (2013). The Design of Everyday Things. Hachette UK.
  12. Papanek, Victor J (1984). Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change. Academy Chicago.
  13. Essi Salonen Designing Collaboration Link
  14. Gupta, Anil K, Grassroots Innovation: Minds On The Margin Are Not Marginal Minds Link
  15. Brown Tim, Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation Link
  16. D’Source, IDC, IITBombay: http://www.dsource.in/

Instructor bio

Prof. Nina Sabnani

IIT Bombay
Nina Sabnani is an artist and storyteller who uses film, illustration and writing to tell her stories. Graduating from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Vadodara she received a master's degree in film from Syracuse University, NY, as a Fulbright Fellow. Her doctoral research at IIT Bombay, focused on the Kaavad storytelling tradition of Rajasthan. Her work in film and illustrated books, seeks to bring together animation and ethnography. Her award-winning films have been made into illustrated books and translated in many Indian languages. Her passion to explore participatory design has led her to make Hum Chitra Banate Hain (We make Images) with Sher Singh Bhil from Madhya Pradesh won the prestigious National award from the President of India for 2016.Nina is currently involved in creating online courses.

Course certificate

The course is free to enroll and learn from. But if you want a certificate, you have to register and write the proctored exam conducted by us in person at any of the designated exam centres.
The exam is optional for a fee of Rs 1000/- (Rupees one thousand only).
Date and Time of Exams: 25 September 2022 Morning session 9am to 12 noon; Afternoon Session 2pm to 5pm.
Registration url: Announcements will be made when the registration form is open for registrations.
The online registration form has to be filled and the certification exam fee needs to be paid. More details will be made available when the exam registration form is published. If there are any changes, it will be mentioned then.
Please check the form for more details on the cities where the exams will be held, the conditions you agree to when you fill the form etc.


Average assignment score = 25% of average of best 3 assignments out of the total 4 assignments given in the course.
Exam score = 75% of the proctored certification exam score out of 100

Final score = Average assignment score + Exam score

YOU WILL BE ELIGIBLE FOR A CERTIFICATE ONLY IF AVERAGE ASSIGNMENT SCORE >=10/25 AND EXAM SCORE >= 30/75. If one of the 2 criteria is not met, you will not get the certificate even if the Final score >= 40/100.

Certificate will have your name, photograph and the score in the final exam with the breakup.It will have the logos of NPTEL and IIT Bombay.It will be e-verifiable at nptel.ac.in/noc.

Only the e-certificate will be made available. Hard copies will not be dispatched.

Once again, thanks for your interest in our online courses and certification. Happy learning.

- NPTEL team

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