Lady In The Deluge

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LADY IN THE DELUGE. (Mixed Media: Pen & Pastels)

There is something about Calcutta which brings out the need for creative expression. The rain clouds over the sky for over fours months a year. Many times it rains when the sun is shining. Dull, dreary, this perhaps explains the slow pace of everything including traffic. The last week across the globe has been about floods. Everywhere. Typhoon. Tornado. Bursts of rain in Mumbai yet again, and of-course in Calcutta too.

Who is the “Lady In The Deluge”?

She seems to be an urban lady, dressed for a party. Wearing a cold shoulder dress, tattered at one sleeve. Her oversized umbrella doesn’t help in this rain and a stream of water finds its way down her arm. She makes a futile effort to save her smartphone from the rain, bu doubt if it would be of much use. Same with her garments outlining her silhouette. Doesn’t help. The sound of her shoes clicking on the gravel gets muted. She is perhaps trying to find the way to her car.

Is that her car? The one that is submerged? What are those pieces of paper stuck under the wheel?

In the background a couple of friendly colleagues document their adventure.

An empty soda bottle bobs along silently, trying to find its purpose.

END

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How Colour Branding is working in Politics

Elections in India have become a huge gala of sound, noise and drama. Add the songs, events, digital marketing and you get a full 360 marketing campaign.

Today’s public held swearing-in ceremony at the state capital Kolkata, was fashionable.

The newly elected party had in huge doses, a political brand presence. It demonstrated people power, by the sheer number of human population surrounding the event and an association with a certain color scheme, liberally used in the decorations. For a State that boasts of as much  land territory and population as that of a small country ; a state language (Bengali) which has 211 million speakers in the world; a grand event did not seem unusual.

A creative like me with absolutely zero to borderline interest in the political scene, was surprised by the recent election campaigns used by various political parties. I grew up in the New Delhi area in the 80’s and 90’s, when every national event or visiting dignitary visit (there were plenty) had elaborate doses of tri-coloured flower & leaf arrangement or the “many-flowerpots-arrangement” of the horticulture department. While Marigold / Dahlias were usually denoting the Orange, the Leafy Palms represented the Green band in the national flag. I am forgetting what they did about the whites. Petunias, maybe.

In the national elections a couple of years back, while one party; (represented by the holy saffron hue bordering on fanta orange), tried to bring in the green and white in many places in its ad space, it was perhaps  primarily seeking to be identified with its lotus orange usp. Fanta, Vodaphone and other brands have successfully used the orange colour to show excitement and cheer in their logos.

The Bengal party, after branding the city with Blue and White (seemed to be borrowed from the sari of the Missionaries of Charity) and now adorning everything from lampposts, railings to the great event itself; exemplifies the success of its understanding of colour perception.

What remains unbranded perhaps is the rest of the contingent of the political nobles. Will it be a wonder if lack of symbolic colour translated to the lack in its personality? Or worse, the choice of a wrong colour could signal contrary emotions? Let’s wait and watch.

Colour (s) of the Year 2016.

pursuit of imagination

Every year, colour company Pantone releases a shade what it calls the “Colour of the year” which is then popularized by its use in products and fashion. Last year it was Marsala, a reddish brown hue.

When Pantone announced not one, but two colours of the year for 2016, it was somewhat surprising deviating from its tradition of a single main colour.

If one thinks deeply, can there really be only one colour for a year? In the landscape above, the morning sky seemed to have “followed” Pantone’s colour direction for the year. In its vastness it enveloped not just the pink “rose quartz”, but also the blue “Eternity” shade and also shows how it can be blended together.

Design. Lost in translation?

A few days back I visited a blog which had the conscious effort of being “made”. While the intent of the developer was clear, which was to create a design community, one particular fastidious designer had commented below why the blog wasn’t serving its purpose. While the creator of the blog was positive in taking the criticism, I’m sure too many of such comments would not have served as discouragement and criticism. By the way, this blog was Indian and that context is important.

In India, there are many factions of design community.

There are those who practice pure “design”, which means everything that is done, should be evaluated on basis of some ten point agenda that they seem to have worked out in tandem. They live by their rule and methodology; creating something that only this community can understand. It has absolutely no relation with the general mass understanding of design, if there may even be so, in India. I’d had once “shamelessly” called it the “Bauhaus” effect, which somehow felt offensive to the professor who was preaching design to our group. I couldn’t help it. Circle, triangle and simplifications of that nature, are rather alien to the evolved Indian sensibilities. We left using such symbols in the 3000 BC. Identification: they are still arguing “form vs function” debates in classrooms.

The Aesthetic or trend keepers

“It has to be Art deco”, screamed the designer, “That is the trend.”

This designer would read the latest trend reports on twitter through a built in trend identifying sensor, attend the important colour (international) conferences and maybe sleep with a few pantone colour chips under the pillow. Ok, I’m exaggerating, but it would be close to that. This faction of designers (In India) would embrace the international trends (and classics) and try to vigorously add doses of the same into the Indian market. Whether the “little black dress” has any relevance in Indian society would be lost in the translation to rapidly imitate the sensibility of foreign glossies. (I’ve been guilty of this for years too!)

The Realists

Then there is the group of realists or pragmatics. Their only agenda is cost control. Would it be cheaper to produce if the ornamentation would be done away with? Or would it be cheaper to produce if the ornamentation was there? Would it be cheaper to product if we employed a designer? Or would it be cheaper if we did away with the design process? You get what I mean…?

The Eco warrior

Eco warriors represent that class of Indian designers who have been molded to think that to design anything non biodegradable is a waste of their time on earth. Most of us are eco sensitive, but the difference is the manner in which anything that is created is deliberated as being threat to nature. This is a section, we could actually do with some more . Identification: They are generally dressed in khadi from FabIndia and paper is their favorite medium.

The Businessman-Marketeer

Here is the faction which has captivated their audience by offering “design” through a big marketing trick. Just like the over used word “innovation”, they would use “design” or “designer” as a differentiator, non-withstanding the fact that they hardly employ a design sensibility nor a designer, or their pure design methodology that the purists were so proud of.They use the term “design” or “innovation” without understanding or believing in it because it brings good business. Identification: Glossy misleading advertisements claiming design, not corroborating with the product in hand. Widespread.

Next time you buy or use something, try to evaluate what could the designer have in the mind.Then, maybe you can decide if the product you are using has been designed well or it is echoing any of the thoughts above. Maybe some, maybe all. What about the product, which just sits there silently, helping you about without making “statements”? Maybe that is the ultimately made product and kudos to its designer.

Honey Trap. Neckpiece inspired by the 70’s #movie DON.

The Wanderer

DON_WEB

That’s Helen. Belonging to an era where the vamp was separate from the heroine in the Indian Cinema. Indian cinema seems to be celebrating 100 years this year. I happened to go through a book by film Historian Feroze Rangoonwala, in an equally quaint library in colaba, chronicling the movie history upto the current,which was then 1978. It was surprising, he gave only a picture mention in the entire book to the movie Don, of Amitabh Bacchan who was later catapulted to became a superstar. He mentioned ” a crime thriller” “current star” “villager becomes a smuggler don”.

I took the essence of the movie as a study, the trademark scarf worn by Zeenat Aman, the leading lady and combined the two into the “Honey Trap”, using current 2014 trend in vogue of precious gems. Only the ring worn in the picture is from the original song, the rest of…

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Radiant orchid in Goa

The Wanderer

purple

We designers look at colors a bit differently. We study their tonal values, their saturation levels, effect of their juxtaposition with other colors and sometimes even give them names. So when I came across a particularly rich colored building in an otherwise drab street in Goa, I screamed in my mind: Radiant Orchid!!

Well, that’s the name of the “Color of the year” for 2014 given by Pantone. And this happened to be around 2014. But I’m not sure the painter or the contractor had this in their mind while commissioning these hues for the building. I’m not even sure whether we follow this colour forecast or any other in India. We have plenty other parameters to think about.(like the availability of the color again).

Goa is a visual treat with its colourful homes. The merciless rains almost 6 months a year also ensure that the buildings are…

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The new Apple IPhone and India?

The Wanderer

Apple’s new iphone. Will it make a difference in India compared to other competing brands? The colours seem fresh and new; but for Apple. Fashion history has seen that bright colours like neon are generally short lived trends which last for a couple of years in the classic “fad” phenomena. They peak during their popularity period and then rapidly decline. Remember acid tones, which gained popularity a decade back? Once the fad reached the streets, it quickly exited along with bell sleeves and platform heels. While acid tones have a neutral association, apart from the fact that they look hideous on the majority colour complexions in India, neons don’t have plenty of good associations either. To the typical Indian mind, they are generally associated with bars and night clubs, which is not a very classy association for a premium product. While a niche audience may be willing to experiment with…

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