We are designers, we tell stories. True fact.
Brands are often represented through stories. True fact.
Everybody loves a good story. Also, true fact.
Lately, in my reading and conversations, I am beginning to grow exceedingly conscious of the divide between mainstream and exploratory, self-commissioned work in graphic design in India. Prevalent and popular content seems to be heavily in favour of the latter. Blogs, books, interviews, exhibitions and chai-time conversations, are filled with references to fantastic exploratory, mostly self-initiated work by graphic designers in and from India. Don’t get me wrong—I am all for expression and adventure, but what concerns me is the narrow lens of viewing only a part of design work, and its adoration obliterating from view a more informed view of design practice in the country.
Two weeks ago, I was at the Kalaghoda Festival in Mumbai, in a panel discussion comprising of myself and Ruchita Madhok (founder of Kahani Designworks), in conversation with Kaiwan Mehta (editor of Domus India) titled Writing Design. During the course of our hour-long discussion, Kaiwan raised an interesting question on why is it important to document what has been done in the past. Here’s a bit of what my thoughts on this are.
I find symbols magical. Visual nutshells, sometimes encompassing the ideas of entire organisations, and even countries – the compression of large ideas into a startlingly small physical form – often gob-smacks me. Sure, we do this everyday for a living and the love of it. But every other day, it continues to put me in ceaseless wonder, when references pop up and symbols are used as part of the vocabulary of persuasion, propaganda and conversation.
The description of a design studio as a physical expanse of space or a number quantifying the composition of a team, seems rather limited. From my ‘insider’s’ view of a studio practice, it is a bit of a strange animal – partly structured, partly wild and almost always, a sum greater than its parts. It is the last bit – about being able to create something that is bigger, better than all of us as individuals – is what makes the studio practice such a fascinating and rewarding experience. Therein lies the biggest motivation for both founders and team members to pursue practice through a studio format.