System Design framework for the Indian Army 

Design in Defence


The Project was Displayed at the RSD event at NID

Design Thinking  | Design Research | System Design 

Team : Kriti , Sakshi , Atharva , Yash

Being the world's second largest force in arms and strength, The Indian Army imports most of its arms, technology and innovation strategies. This project explores different ways of co-creating opportunities, with a system design approach for the Indian Army. We inquired how design thinking approaches can facilitate better decision making and planning.

Our vision is to include Design Thinking and Human Centric approach with technological developments, to broaden the spectrum of design in the Indian Army.


While discussing how multiple professions like engineering and medical play a specific role in the army, we questioned, "How might we as designers play a role to make our country’s defense future ready?"


This inquiry tinkered the idea, “Can there be a post for a ‘Designer’ in Indian Army?"

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Design Thinking and Tools

Systems thinking is like a Lego structure which has different pieces that fit into one another to function in harmony and maintain stability. Even if one piece goes missing or is damaged, the whole structure faces different levels of damage. Whereas Design Thinking is like each Lego piece, that has its own design and characteristic to fit at a particular place in the structure and make it work smoothly. This way system thinking and design thinking overlap and complement each other. This understanding forms the base of our outcomes.


The overall project follows multiple double diamond processes linearly from research to outcomes, including the use of  following design thinking tools and visualization methods:

Four broad themes emerged out of these HMW question and solution sets:


  • Technology and Strategy Planning

  • Mental and Physical Training

  • Awareness

  • Decision Making

Furthermore we analyzed the difference in design thinking process and army's thinking process. We mapped out, 'What Design can do?' and 'What are we trying to do with design thinking?' followed by blending the two, 'Design thinking for military advantage!'

Field Visit

To better understand and observe the life of the army personnels ,we visited the Amritsar Army Cantonment and temporarily experienced the daily life of soldiers .

We documented the system of work, starting from their morning training routine to the daily assignments  of various departments of the Indian Army such as the -

Corps of Engineers , The Infantry, The Artillery , The Ration supply chain  etc.


Exhibit of props and everyday uniform


Water Bridge Trucks - Corps of Engineers


Truck being serviced  as part of practice

Giga Map

The project is illustrated into a Giga Map. The outcomes include visualizing a future scenario, where design thinking and designers are one of the essential stakeholders, to increase the efficiency of the army both during peace and war.

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A chart was created by analyzing this data which illustrates a collaboration of the broad range of design disciplines and the different Corps of the Indian Army. It kickstarts the idea of a designer’s placement at different levels of the army’s organization. Vice versa, it informs the design community about where they can fit in the army’s structure with their professional abilities.

Project Outcomes


The Giga Map represents the process journey of this project divided into 6 phases. It has topographic illustrations which represents defense on land i.e. Army, with a Camouflage theme and colors of Indian Army. The overall look is “Method in Madness”. The information seems hidden and confusing, yet it is organized if one see’s it closely. The concept is based on ‘camouflage in battlefield’ where everything seems like a chaos when soldiers camouflages in the trees and the bushes but, when observed closely, one can understand the planned positions and each soldier playing a designated role.

The project narrowed down to two opportunity areas with multiple outcomes as follows : 


1 .How can we apply design thinking at different levels of Indian army’s organization?


Pondering over, 'Design Thinking for military advantage' made us question, 'What can a designer intervene in the army’s organization and how?' In the current scenario, mostly Industrial Designers work at the ‘development stage’ of tangible products where they are given a brief, with limited research to conceptualize and prototype.


The problems are identified by higher officials to make briefs based on feedback given by members of different Corps. Our field visit to two Army Cantonments in Amritsar, Punjab, and official meeting with the heads of Army Design Bureau at Ministry of Defense, New Delhi lead us to the conclusion that, the preliminary stage of problem identification and framing, can yield better innovation strategies with design thinking approaches.




A Framework which defines a step by step process with different design thinking toolkits for need/problem identification. This framework makes ‘Design Thinking’ a ‘Catalyst’ in the army’s development process in the absence of an actual designer aboard.

2. How designers from different design disciplines work with the army?


With fast growing technology, the desired future scenarios built by the armies of other countries like biological and cyber warfare are coming into being. Tackling these requires making a vision of such scenarios in the present. The diverse field of design has multiple design disciplines with each discipline offering an innovative outlook for such future scenarios. The Indian Army is a self-sustaining organization with an inhouse development power. The chance of a designer being involved in the innovation process has always been indirect i.e. via a renowned manufacturing company. This led us to the idea of having an ‘Inhouse Designer’ in the army.


Outcome : 


Exploring possibilities for different types of designers to work with the army support sector, strategic future planning departments and collaborative practices between them. We designed a ‘Scenario building’ workshop, to understand the army scenarios where different design disciplines can intervene. We made trigger cards based on multiple themes identified from HMW’s and used Julier J. Kimbell (2012) Storyworld design toolkit to capture the data.



How did this inquiry shape our design practices ?


Our inquiry in this project led us through a journey to understand the role of design in every sector prevailing in the society. It gave a clarity on how the use of design thinking and methods either in fragments or as a whole, serves its purpose by all means. Every individual and organization seeks for innovation as a way to progress and applies the design process with or without being mindful about it. The systems approach in design helped us to identify the actual need of the hour, whose present solutions have benefits even in the long run.

Future Scope :


We would like take our our system project further into the areas of Rehabilitation Centers to help soldiers adapt to civilian life after war or retirement.