the big-game event

The Street, the Studio and Us

First published in a slightly modified form ‘The Street, the Studio and Us’ in Business Standard, 8 October, in Deep Design, a fortnightly column by Itu Chaudhuri.

We learnt a lot about design, and about ourselves, in the last month. Our studio recently curated an exhibition, which pitted ten products by a Swiss product design firm against ten objects from our culture, to ‘tell their stories’.

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To Clutter, With Reason and Love

First published in a slightly modified form ‘the laws of Clutter’ in Business Standard, 27 August, in Deep Design, a fortnightly column by Itu Chaudhuri.

“Clutter,” said the Grandiosely Opinionated Deviant, (GOD) “is a master theme of Indian visuality.” He adjusted a pair of futuristic-looking hospital-issue dark glasses, an odd presence in the restaurant we were in. Recovering from eye surgery, he’d asked—summoned, really—my help with making notes and drafting a paper on aesthetics.

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Photo Credits: Niloy Kundu | ICD

The Three Ages of Olympic Logos

First published in a slightly modified form in Business Standard, 13 August, in Deep Design, a fortnightly column by Itu Chaudhuri.

Everyone loves a new, public logo. It’s a polarising icon, and comments are free. So it is with Olympic logos. Deep Design seeks not to praise or bury them, but to discover the meaning interred into their bones.

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We, the Undersigned


“The trouble with you creative fellows,” said VSOP (Very Superior Old Person), “is that you think brand only means advertising, or synthesising emotions to sell your widgets.”

I’d sought advice on Brand India for an article, and sat across chutney sandwiches and coffee in the understated lounge of the lushly landscaped International Information Centre. I protested that no, I didn’t think so, and wasn’t in advertising. But VSOP, a retired bureaucrat of Great Standing, and known to be “an acquired taste”, was in spate. Keep Reading

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Making Sense of Election Symbols

By themselves, symbols mean nothing. It takes prior knowledge to associate, purely by convention, a white-tipped cane with its blind owner. More connotative symbols acquire meaning by social processes. In an English storybook, a cock may announce the break of day, while its Indian cousin, the murga, may identify a certain type of tandoori joint. Each of these uses a code, a script that tells us what the once-arbitrary symbol means in a particular context.

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You Don’t Absolutely Love Your Vernacular Newspaper

First, the news. At a recent WPP conference, sponsor Rajasthan Patrika (the group that owns the popular daily of the same name) challenged participants to make ‘Hindi cool’. Storyboard editor Anant Rangaswami judged their efforts, not favourably; but his insightful piece argues that we should invert cause and effect. If Hindi newspapers invested in design, he says, Hindi would look cooler; and Hindi publications would get the increased advertising rates commensurate with their robust readership growth, while their English confrères continue to increase their ad rates despite feeble, none or negative growth.

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