Published: 03rd April 2019
Pearl Academy enters the garden city fashionably late!
We spoke to the President and COO of leading design institute Pearl Academy about their fifth campus being set up in Bengaluru
Pearl Academy, one of India's leading institutions in design, fashion and media, announced its foray into southern India with the launch of its campus in Bengaluru. This will be the institute's fifth campus across India and the only one in South India. The campus will start with Pearl Academy’s flagship courses in fashion, communication design and product design, and over time, plans to add more industry-oriented courses which would be relevant for emerging sectors in India will materialise. We spoke to Nandita Abraham, President, Pearl
What are Pearl's mission and vision? What can students expect from the institute when they sign up?
Pearl Academy is 26 years old. Right from the start, we have been developing professionals for the creative industry, keeping an eye on international standards, industry relations and the changes in the society around us. We currently have four campuses in Delhi, Jaipur, Mumbai and Noida and we are setting up one in Bengaluru as our fifth. We have an environment that has the best infrastructure, the best faculty and opportunities for students at every stage to engage with the industry, to engage with people in their fields in and around the world. We have something called the Pearl total learning system and it is actually a meta-curriculum which goes under all the courses. So every student at Pearl will undergo this experience. The system has four pillars:
- Beyond the curriculum: Whether you are a student of interior design or fashion design, you need to be able to learn extra things to prepare yourself for the future. Students have the opportunity to learn things that are not in their basic curriculum. For example, every semester's week 1 and week 10, we have something called Open Labs, which is an opportunity to bring in the best people from around the world. Or a fashion design student can study something in business or communication design if they'd like. Multi-disciplinary learning is very valuable and it represents what happens at the workplace also. Other examples are life skills and active citizenship where the students participate in socially useful work while they are at Pearl. There is also an entrepreneurship model that every student will study because it is not enough to just be a designer, they need to understand what it means to be an entrepreneur, how to set up their business and so on.
- Industry integrated circuit: Every course, every school has an industry advisory board. We work with the industry while developing the curriculum and they come in to conduct master classes. We work with them to create strong alliances and projects and internship opportunities. All our students undergo what we call a Live Industry Project which is a project that comes to us from the industry — our students work on the project and make recommendations back to the company. So there's a lot of closeness with the industry.
- Global learning: Internationality is one of our USPs and we think it's very important. Today, design is something that is international; international companies are using Indian designers, films are using Indians for VFX and animation, it is extremely important to understand the global context. So every student at Pearl has the opportunity to have an international experience — could be a semester abroad or a project with an international college. We also have international faculty in all our campuses. The aim is to help students understand global systems, mindsets, processes and be able to apply that to our culture and heritage.
- Career mentoring: We are not just teaching students, we are developing professionals for the industry, so right from when they start the focus is on what they plan to do in their career. Students who want to take up entrepreneurship get to listen to young entrepreneurs talk about how to set up a business, what legal steps you need to take to do so, the finance, etc. We have incubation centres where students can use all the equipment available on campus. That will help them in their early careers.
Tell us about your faculty, do experts from the industry come in and teach?
Among our full-time faculty, 80 per cent of them already have six to eight years of industry experience. Also, we have schemes through which our faculty go out on industry internships to keep them relevant. Our visiting and adjunct faculty are all from the industry, they come in and teach two or three days a week. All our students, when they are doing their industry projects, have an industry mentor. Every school has an industry advisory board that meets three times every year and gives us feedback on what we can do better to bring in fresh ideas.
Nandita Abraham, President, Pearl
What courses do you offer?
We have undergraduate and postgraduate courses in largely three domains — fashion, under which we have fashion design, fashion styling, fashion business, luxury brands, fashion media, and make-up; school of design, interior design, product design, communication design. Interior design covers space design and styling also. And product design covers large and small products. Communication design covers graphics, VFX and we also have accessory design which is a new course we are launching this year. School of Media has courses in media and communication and also fashion media and communication as that's a course that's been running successfully for many years. We also have professional photography, advertising and marketing. We have started courses on Saturdays for working professionals and is called Pearl Edge, that's how we engage with people in the industry. Totally, we have over 30 courses in UG and PG. Students from any background can apply for our PG courses.
What would you say is the future of creative education in India?
Education will grow as the industry grows because both support each other. If you look at the creative or the design industry, these industries are really growing. Media and entertainment is a sector that had a 49 per cent growth rate last year. If you look at the research done, last year, there was a need for 6,000 designers in the industry. These industries are really growing and we will grow with it.
How is Bengaluru as a city going to play a major role in the institute's growth plans?
The campus will be functional from next year and the admissions will start from July 2020. Bengaluru is one of the largest and fastest-growing metro cities in India. It is also a design hub. In terms of industry presence, the city provides huge opportunities in the employment of fresh talent from creative colleges. An education institute plays an important role in the ecosystem of the city, so whether it is Delhi or Mumbai, we have pioneered what is happening around the city in terms of design and innovation.