Graphic Designer at Samsung Research
Alishka
Shah

Alishka is a visual communication designer and researcher from India. She graduated from the National Institute of Design and is currently working as a Senior Designer at Samsung Research where she drives innovation and research projects within the domains of visual experience and augmented reality.

she/her • Bengaluru, India • October 31, 2022

What led you into design?

My journey into and through the world of design has been more serendipitous than pre-meditated.

Growing up, art and design were not necessarily perceived as very serious or stable professions, so I barely had exposure to any first-hand creative influences. However, there was nothing I enjoyed more than experimenting with different art tools, visual mediums and techniques to see the endless array of possibilities. For most of my childhood, I took up these creative pursuits as a hobby, and it was only towards the end of high school that I learnt about the scope of design as an emerging profession.

While specializing in Graphic Design during my undergraduate program, I was nothing short of mesmerized by the beauty of analogue print and publication. Pursuing design full-time also helped me overcome the pre-conceived notions I had about the subject and broadened by horizons in terms of understanding the social and scalable impact that design could have. Over time, I have grown to be more inclined towards the disciplines of systemic and strategic design and their potential to drive meaningful change.

What does a typical day look like?

At present, we are following a hybrid work policy so on the weekdays that I choose to work from the office my day starts off quite early, usually around 7 AM. During my commute to and from work, I spend most of my time listening to podcasts and audiobooks.

To get a head start I begin my day by going through my emails and my meeting schedule followed by which I plan my personal work items as per the available time slots. My current projects are essentially collaborative in nature, so I get to co-work with members from various departments at Samsung including our Korean counterparts who work out of the headquarters.

What's your workstation setup?

Lately with work flexibility, I've been moving around a lot, so I don't really have a physical work setup. But some must-haves on my travelling work desk include:

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Where do you go to get inspired?

To stir up some inspiration I like to step out, travel and experience new things – be it cities, cultures, cuisines, music genres or activities. Lately I've become someone who hates monotony and craves change as it gives me the opportunity to experience something I haven't before.

As a visual designer, when exploring new spaces I love documenting all kinds of art and artefacts whether they come up in the form of street side graffiti, heritage monuments or off-beat galleries. To mix things up and pick up new skills, I often like to take up new hobbies (most recent being scuba diving and yoga) where I get to interact with a diverse set of people and look at things from a completely different lens.

To sum it up, for me, the best place to look for inspiration is anywhere away from my work desk and out in the real world.

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Traditional Korean architecture of Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul

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Graffiti, murals and paste-ups from Hosier Lane, Melbourne

What product have you recently seen that made you think this is great design?

Not a product, but Data Humanism as a design philosophy is something that I have been obsessing over since I first came across it. This concept sheds light on the importance of looking at data from a more humane and qualitative lens and was introduced and advocated for by Giorgia Lupi, an information designer and partner at Pentagram. The application of data humanism in certain contexts like medical data and data for personalization truly reflects the value of this approach as a missing piece in the data puzzle.

What pieces of work are you most proud of?

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Fashion Campaign for Ukiyo, a Papa Don't Preach collection

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Hidden, is an experimental and interactive city guide designed to take the user on a type walk, unearthing type based specimens while exploring the vibrant streets and artsy alleyways of Melbourne, Australia

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3D Illustartion series

What design challenges do you face at your company?

While I get to dabble in a variety of projects led by design thinking, breakthrough research and cutting edge technology, it comes with its fair set of challenges. Working with a multinational conglomerate which offers such a diverse portfolio of products and services while catering to a global audience means that as a designer there are multiple factors to take into consideration.

In the spirit of innovation, it is very easy to lose sight of the real need and value, so to strike the perfect balance between business goals, tech feasibility and user aspiration is probably the most demanding aspect of my job.

What music do you listen to whilst designing?

Any advice for ambitious designers?

Here's a list of a few of my personal learnings from along the way:

- Always have an opinion and a voice, no matter how different it may be from the rest in the room. Your unique experience and perspective amounts to a large portion of the value that you bring to the table, so try to master participation over spectatorship.

- Be both intimidated and inspired by what you do not know yet and at the same time also be curious enough to mine it out

- As a designer, always be open to change and ambiguity. Design, as an iterative process, is rarely linear, so adopt a flexible mindset and try to use the ambiguity to your advantage.

- Be intentional and conscious of every design decision you make. There is always a real user at the end of the line that either enjoys the reward or bears the brunt of your choices, so try your best to make the wisest ones.

- Lastly, to add some borrowed wisdom, “Be bold and be right. If you’re not bold, you’re not going to do much of anything. If you’re not right, you’re not going to be here.” Steve Ballmer to Satya Nadella

Anything you want to promote or plug?

Nothing in particular to plug at the moment, but always up for connecting and collaborating with creatives from round the globe. So feel free to hit me up on LinkedIn or Instagram anytime!

interview