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Life & Work with Ashwin Mohan

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ashwin Mohan.

Hi Ashwin, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I am a UX and Systems designer, and I come from a metropolitan city in India called Chennai. My journey from home to where I am now has been nothing short of an adventure; towards realizing my true potential. I believe my odyssey began at a very young age when I discovered my love for art. I still remember drawing my first dinosaur at the age of four, dazzled after watching Jurassic Park. Art became this magical skill that allowed me to bring my fantasies and ideas to life. Thanks to my family, who are an eclectic mix of athletes, entrepreneurs, artists, and travelers, I had the freedom to explore my passion – Art. If not for their undying support, I might have not realized my capabilities as a creative individual.

As I grew up, I expanded my skill-set and scope of interest. Another side of my journey that I often don’t mention when I talk about my career – is my history in sport. I played professional cricket, football, and volleyball for many years, and represented various institutions. Sport not only ignited my competitive spirit but also taught me what it means to be a team player; attributes that I later realized as essentials in the professional world. However, between sport and art, I found myself more inclined to the latter; not necessarily Art, but something creative. Moreover, I think in some sense my qualities as a sportsman are rooted to the creative person that I am.

So why did I want to become a UX and Systems designer? Well, that pursuit originally began during my junior year of high school. Like many kids, I too had a fascination for cars and sci-fi machines. But, it was not just about being in awe of it. I wanted to create, and I wanted to make stuff. The abilities that brought fun and joy to me, also nurtured a desire to contribute. I only looked for more ways to augment my skills into the real world. This led me to discover and pursue design; particularly industrial and automotive design.

When I started reading about design as a career, I was enamored by the vastness it offered. Between being overwhelmed by the work I came across, and curious about what I could do, I knew this had to be my path forward. So, I decided to pack my skills, charge my creativity, and set course towards the world of industrial and automotive design.

As I traversed the field, I sharpened my skills and expanded my knowledge. I came across a stream within the field of transportation design, that went beyond the vehicle itself. To date, I consider that phase to be the most pivotal point in my career – to realize that the outside world is not just about a single object that is used by people, rather it’s a system consisting of inter-dependent entities interacting with each other. My perception of mobility and transportation evolved, and today, I believe I’ve found my true purpose in the field that I so dearly love – to design meaningful, holistic, and future-focused experiences that empower people; within the purview of mobility and transportation.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It’s never a smooth road. I am a firm believer that – if you don’t fail often, if your endeavor is not challenging, then you are not growing.

One of the challenges that I think played a role in my story – is my place of origin. As I mentioned, I come from India, where Design is still new and nascent. So, creating a pathway towards a design career has been challenging from the start as there aren’t adequate bridges helping you progress. Most of my design thinking abilities and skills are self-taught as a result.

Next, it is also commonly known that education and living in LA is not cheap, especially for someone coming from the other side of the world.

But the most important struggle has been staying away from family, friends, and people you love, in order to become the best at what you do.

Lastly – one of the biggest challenges that also apply to everyone else is – work-life balance.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I am a UX and Systems designer. I specialize in the strategic design of ecosystems and experiences; usually within mobility and transportation. For more details on my work, please visit www.theashwinmohan.com

What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned along your journey?

1.    Show up, respect time and deadlines.

2.    Trust the process, and the results will follow. It’s something I learned watching a famous cricketer back in India.

3.    Challenge your capabilities every step of the way, even if you are not required to.

4.    Take care of your mental and physical health.

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