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Young Indian designer Sanjana Paramhans uses design thinking to take on economic, social challenges

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“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

Drawing inspiration from the words of Steve Jobs, , 22, the young and dynamic Social Designer from NYC has been using design and design thinking as a tool to deal with economic and social challenges in the world.

Having completed her schooling from Indian School of Bahrain, Sanajana decided to choose design as a profession. She moved to New York in 2012 to pursue her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design at Pratt Institute. Her natural talent in practical problem solving and fantastic sense of earned her the honor of being featured in the Deans list Presidents list twice, and Deans list thrice during the 8 semesters.

Sanjana has devoted a lot of her time as a professional, to address re-habilitation for war refugees. Her design for the modular and mobile rehabilitation units for refugees made it to the finals of the UN and Ikea foundation resettlement program.

Born in Lucknow, India, Sanjana says her design offers “a sanctuary for those who are temporarily displaced”. She adds she was “deeply affected by the situation and conditions of the refugees” and “really wanted to do something in my power” to help them out. “I first thought of donating money, but I felt like I wanted to do more than that,” she says. “I wanted to use my knowledge and skills to design a solution that would be more permanent than simply donating money.”

Recently she proposed a design for a peaceful and amicable border for India and Pakistan. Sanjana says, “I believe a safe but open interface between the citizens of India and Pakistan can promote respect for each other’s life and culture, and induce peace and harmony between the two neighbors.”

The talented youngster is also working with Lone Pack – an NGO committed to bring awareness on mental health. She actively participates in designing social and online campaigns to expunge the stigma attached to mental illness which is classified under the same section as blindness or cancer.

Enabling social change is what Sanjana wants to do long-term. She says: “In the future, I see myself as a working as a social designer, using design and design thinking as a tool to deal with economic and social challenges in the world. I truly believe that, design stimulates people to behave a function a certain way — it can condition and control their actions and reactions. Design is not just pretty lights and wallpapers, it is an enabler of social change. In the future, I see myself as a working as a social designer, using design and design thinking as a tool to deal with economic and social challenges in the world.”