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Kartik Krishnan on Taking DSI’s Learnings Back Home

Kartik Krishnan head shot on yellow background

Since graduating last Spring, Kartik Krishnan (‘20) has begun sharing his passion for social design with clients and corporations back home in India. As visiting faculty for B-Schools and a Design Researcher for design innovation consultancy firm TinkerLabs, Kartik works with students and clients to implement design thinking into their day-to-day practices across an array of workshops. Currently, he is prototyping interventions to improve the quality of life for TB patients in a few tribal pockets in India.

Though he’s already making big moves, Kartik is relatively new to the world of Social Design. He was introduced to DSI by 2014 alum Tanya Bhandari while seeking a new trajectory after completing his undergraduate degree in animation and visual communication design, and realized quickly this was the work he wanted to pursue. To get his start in the social sector ahead of applying for his MFA, Kartik took an internship with the Vihara Innovation Network. Here, he collaborated with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on a project researching child mortality rates in rural India and how to lower it, which reaffirmed his decision to shift into this work full-time. Before long, he was joining us as part of the class of 2020. 

“The way I like to explain DSI to people is someone looked at my brain, understood all of my interests and designed courses specifically to cater to that. I just had the time of my life exploring everything,” he explains. Though he valued every class, as a current design researcher he cites research tactics he learned from Disruptive Design and rapid testing procedures from Games for Impact as two of the biggest takeaways from his time here.

As he continues to grow his social design experience and advance his career, Kartik is still making time to think about expanding his thesis, Unfair, with his thesis partner Aditi Kapre (‘20). While the two of them are currently focused on their full-time work, they are still in touch on ways they can continue to reimagine mainstream Indian media to shift colourist narratives toward radical inclusivity, and have plans to expand in the near future.

With an abundance of projects on his plate, Kartik is able to manage them all by maintaining a sense of purpose, and he advises new DSI students and applicants to keep a similar mindset: “The best thing you can do for yourself at DSI is to figure out what your focus is. Why do you want to study at DSI? Why is social innovation important to you personally? If you stick with that mission and remember why you enter in the first place, it will help you pull through the hardest days.”

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