Wednesday, July 4, 2012


What does it mean to rest?

Is there rest for anyone? This is a mad mad rush of a world we live in. No space to be anything other than keeping on moving. What does it mean to rest? What does it mean when even Jesus said, come to me all you who are weary and I will give you rest?

Rest is not a day in a week where you sit on your couch and chill. Your head is still raging with work and things to get done before the work rush takes over again tomorrow. That is not rest. Rest is not sitting down in your hot bath with relaxing music crooning and candles slowly burning. Too soon you have to get up from there and get back to un-rest.

Progress, I have come to believe, is a fairly western concept. Progress is birthed out of industry. Out of producing. The thirst for progress is the fuel that is keeping this ruthless machinery of busy-ness running. Once you're in, you're in for the long haul. You cannot just get up from your desk and decide to forsake the train and jump off for a day. That's the pity of progress.

That's the irony of rest. What we think is rest is just another phase in progress. You rest so you can reset to progress further.

People need to know that progress is not the only train for humanity. That getting 'there' isn't all there is to life.

I want a rest that encompasses every second of my being. Not a set apart day in a week. Not an hourly routine every day. I want a rest that questions progress and the forward movement that everyone in the technological driven society is so convinced is the only way to go.  

I don't have the answer, but I seek it and ask the question everyday. 

Life is not a stage by stage progression. Life is. Time is not an arrow that goes from past to future. Time is a circle. It doesn't have a beginning nor an end. We should not think of life as a movie with a plot line that is trying to get somewhere. I think life is as it is. Nothing less, nothing more. We are in a plane that is not going anywhere. It is everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Design in India - Brand Identity

I know I live in New Zealand. Some might say that I have no right to comment on the design scene in India, while I live elsewhere. But thanks to Internet, and most progressive design in recent times comes via the net, I do keep myself informed. Also because I live in New Zealand, I have my feet in two places, in two very different design universes, different design philosophies between the two places. I make it my job to (try and) understand why culture moves in a specific direction. And graphic design is one powerful tool that shapes the direction and pace. Maybe the most powerful tool, simply because it is so not obvious.

Bangalore is an excellent example to press one of my points about design in India. 

Brand Identity

Yes, there are kids with Photoshop skills. Yes, there are kids who sincerely love rock and roll and blues and jazz and all that shit and Jim Morrison. There are good places to hang out and a good atmosphere to chill and live life in. If that was all, then life would be perfect. But from design point of view, Bangalore is an already bombed field. Everyone everywhere is trying to do the same thing. Half of their heads are telling them to be corporate while the other half is telling them not to give any bollocks and listen to Bob Marley and be freeee free free maan and do what you want; the philosophy of the rebellion called rock music.

Here is the irony of it all. Bangalore is a very corporate city. Corporate is the establishment.

The mindset of the corporate-ism is to sell a product by whatever means possible. In Bangalore, businesses sell by names that are popular: Bob Marley, Jim Morrison, Led Zeppelin, Beatles, Metallica, James Dean. All of them are anti-establishment, anti-corporate.

Let me ask, how can the Silicon valley of India, the hub of all corporate labels, the hub of all markets, the centre of all merchandized products, the mecca of rich seeking engineering kids be a rock and roll and cool capital? It doesn't work. Its like McDonald's pretending to be cool and hip. Rock and roll is anti-establishment. Whereas in Bangalore (as in few other cities in India) rock and roll is made to attract urban youth (yuppies) to spending their hard earned cash.

What is my point? My point is, design goes deeper than a photoshopped banner at your front door. A face of Bob Marley promoting your pub goes deeper than just the face value of that.

If you brand a business, you need to sell by what you are good at, not by the music that is played in your restaurant, not by musicians that you dig, not by the people you fantasize about. A business place that sells by what they or the customers are interested in that has nothing to do with the actual goods or services being offered is shallow. That is crap branding. That is crap design.

You can't get your group together, rip a photo of Jimi Hendrix (1000px or more from Google), pop it into Photoshop and use Monotype Corsiva to brand your new hangout place called Hendrix Cafe & Bar. That is counterfeit. That is not ethical business. That is not a business that will last long. Designing a brand has to burrow deep into yourself and your team, and should be birthed out of what products/services are offered and the business philosophy behind it. It needs to be clever. It needs to be intentional. Deliberate.

Cafes that offer best coffee and brand themselves around their good coffee, and nothing else, is legit. A good cafe need not resort to a photo of Janis Joplin to have people come in. When people know they have good products selling, they will come. Today, businesses that are unapologetic and are deeply thought out and branded will stand stronger. You don't need to hire a professional graphic designer to do every branding for you. You just need to know what you are selling and what you want to be seen as selling. 

Graphic design, as I always say, is about making impressions. Bangalore and many Indian cities need to stop giving the impression that they are wannabe cities, pretending they are back in the 70s, a haven for rock and roll veterans from America. They do know what they are, and what they are doing. They just need to design and brand it well so that these identities are perceived and understood to visitors and citizens alike.