GET UP. GET READY. RUN TO WORK. WORK, WORK, WORK. RUN BACK HOME. CRASH. REPEAT.
We are all burning out. Our shifts keep getting longer, our projects don’t seem to end. We wait for a weekend and before we realise, it’s over. Escaping this rut isn’t impossible. We took some notes out of our own lives at Lopez Design to find out what makes us tick. Scan through five tips to find out how to stay motivated about your work-life.
Good design is good business. Only when both understand the need for each other. Deep deep down.
— Anthony Lopez
Monsoon Greetings! Cooking up with computers and digital interfaces, we sometimes long to get our hands on something real. Mosaics of Chance is about a unique poster format designed at our studio, which allows you to interact with modules to build your own patterns. In Building together with bare hands, we talk about how a papier-mâché workshop in our studio changed the way we worked together. Take Five is a light-hearted yet absolutely pertinent piece for our times – how do you stay motivated at work? We take a leaf out of the Lopez Design life to share five easy ways to be charged at your workplace.
Lopez Design creates dynamic print design for today For an assignment, Lopez Design Principal Anthony Lopez asked a class he was teaching to write in their impressions of the talk he had given. “I got fifteen different essays on the same talk!” says the award-winning branding designer. The variations in interpretations astounded Lopez who was all the more excited to explore how human beings perceive and communicate. As he says, “The funny thing is we take it for granted that we are all on the same plane of thought.” We most certainly are not thinking alike, and this is the case as well with every husband and wife, mother and daughter, father and son.
As designers, how could we demonstrate this amazing world of multiple viewpoints?
At a time of information overload, our attention span has greatly reduced and visuals capture our minds fleetingly. Design in this digital world necessarily engages with capricious mental make-up. Each of us has an urge to express our opinions about everything we see, as soon as we see something and then boredom sets in soon after. And what’s more, the ‘like’ button is only a touch away. Yet, anything lives only so long it is relevant and exhilarating to people. In this fast-changing scenario, design needs to keep up pace with unexpected changes. What then, of print technology – does it still have a place? At Lopez Design, we decided to experiment with perception and communication, bringing in user choice with an added challenge – the format would be print, not digital.
Dynamic and responsive design We explored the relationship between the brain and human genius to discover how information is processed by different people. Images of the brain – the thought machine behind all these processes – were scanned through MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). Each visual is a cross section of the human brain at a particular depth, representing not only the dynamics of its physical structure but also its functions. We compiled brief descriptions of extraordinary people who exploited this inbuilt human machine in the most inventive ways possible. This information about these pioneers, was evidence in itself of the effort they put in to explore hidden corners of their brains. We then put all of this information into a poster form.
The structure of the poster The poster itself is divided into two parts, one which is constant and the other variable. The fixed part of the poster contains the visuals of the brain imaging and the information about genius individuals. The variable part, which is intended for user participation, is an empty glass- board overlaid on the fixed print poster. On this transparent medium, letters can be ordered to make up meaningful words and phrases, using alphabet stickers or a pen. For instance, words that run parallel to the visual, like BEAUTIFUL MINDS can be replaced by any other set of words like SPEAK MEMORY allowing multiple contextual meanings. This entire process of interaction showcases the individuality that each one of us possess because of the different ways in which our brains perceive and process data and images.
Our intention behind the poster The poster is open to multiple interpretations. It is created to acknowledge the unrestricted nature of the human brain. The brain, which is untamable, will process every input in a unique way to its creator to give a unique outcome.
As a design studio our foremost interest was in re-examining traditional print media and making it more relevant to the current times. Each time an individual interacts with the static poster, a new visual is generated, and this makes the experience dynamic, giving the audience the continuous change they demand. This unusual way of engaging with individual perception is all set to bring remarkable insights on how the human brain processes information.
Thinking Design podcast is a student initiative to record conversations and thoughts of eminent visitors to DJAD (DJ Academy of Design, Coimbatore) especially in the Indian context. With the extended vision of bringing Indian designers under one roof, these podcasts aim to store and archive legendary minds so that their knowledge and wisdom are accessible to us and even to the generations after. In this 2018 podcast, DJ Academy students speak to Anthony Lopez, Principal of Lopez Design in New Delhi on his thoughts about his design journey, education and the future of design in India.
After his initial collaborations and ventures, Anthony Lopez began his own firm Lopez Design in 1997, taking on the onus for all things to come. In Thinking Design, he talks about his early tryst with the National Institute of Design and while he chose graphic design as a profitable vocation, his work in ‘everything design’ has been a lifelong passion.
The diversity of India and the demands of our 1.34 billion population, the need for design schools to create programs to address complex local problems, cumulative effects of technology, the new spirit of innovation, the challenges of designing in a continually transforming world – Anthony addresses all this and more. Ultimately, what does it take for an aspiring student designer to realize your passion? The award-winning design firm’s founder walks you through being persistent with every trial, ambidextrous, responding to change and working round the clock to deliver the best with unwavering self-belief.
You can listen to the entire podcast through the following link —
Here are a few excerpts from the podcast —
DJAD:How did Lopez Design start?
AL: I was lucky to get my first job offer at Oriole Design, an exhibition design firm in Delhi. After a stint there, three of us from NID got together and formed a multidisciplinary design firm in Delhi, which we ran for 5 years. Later I managed the production, labour and vendors for another friend in the export business. Two years into this, I felt a strong inner urge to be independent. I started out on my own with a clear belief – ‘whatever you do, do it yourself. If things go wrong only you are to be blame’. That’s how Lopez Design began.
DJAD:How influential was that space (NID) for you?
AL: Now having travelled all over, I can say, it’s one of the most beautiful and inspiring modern design institutes that I have seen. Surrounded by young, smart and talented people, I was constantly being influenced by its spaces, its departments, its enormous library and everything in it during my time.
DJAD:Then, what led you towards Graphic Design?
AL: The visual medium’s potential attracted me more – it also gave me many possibilities and areas to apply oneself. Now looking back I can say that it allowed me to develop very strong thinking and articulation skills, simultaneously allowing me to spread my tentacles. Both my thinkering and tinkering attitude led our firm to be where we are today doing ‘everything design’.
Being ambidextrous also sows the seed of how your thinking shapes and that’s where the power comes from. I think basically for me, visual communication was one of the founding pillars as well as to later develop strategic thinking.
DJAD:Where do you think the design field in India is today where design colleges are concerned?
AL: We need many designers to design for the needs of 1.34 billion people of India. Policies and decisions need to be taken in context to our geographical vastness, our diverse languages and cultures. We are actually many nations put together and that makes us complex. Problems in one village or district are different from another.
So how can you solve the problem of open defecation, by just building one type of toilet and mind you, just toilets? To me this is a classic complex problem and it needs many different solutions. And therefore, we need many designers or problem solvers across various domains to solve the problem at local levels. China, with a population 1.42 billion, has about 350 design schools while we have got only about 30-40 design schools. Now look at the number of engineers coming out of India every year – 1.5 million. We are over engineered!
NID currently takes on a huge number of students, a 100 plus every year compared to during our time, when only 30 students across all disciplines were taken in. The faculty student ratio was near 1:1 when we were there – attention and interactions were more intense, which made you richer.
I think it’s still the same in DJAD, which is fantastic! But the important thing would be to get people who can be stimulants – faculty, visiting faculty, guest lecturers – essentially people who can be great mentors and motivators. Design schools require to create lab like conditions, and stimulate students, besides teaching skills.
DJAD:Looking back at your time at NID and interactions with young designers today, what do you think has changed?
AL: Times have changed drastically. It’s the pace at which everything happens now. There would be long spans of time when we lived with certain innovations. Let’s take the telephone, so my father and grandfather lived with the telephone for their whole life and there was nothing beyond that in terms of communication technology right?
Now, switch over to my generation where I have seen this huge body of transformation happening in my one lifetime. The impact it has had on society is huge. The term ‘change is constant’ applies very much these days.
So the way design needs to be taught today needs to change drastically because the mind has to adapt to the implications of high frequency of innovation. We have seen just how the invention of the mobile phone as impacted everything we do, how we think, behave and everything connected. And while we are consuming this we are already beginning to see AI, machine learning, big data and blockchain network bringing about a totally new paradigm shift. All this is going to have a massive impact in ways we cannot fathom.
So how do you prepare yourself as a person, as a thinker, as a designer – to comprehend the outcome, to understand and apply yourself in this constantly moving and changing context? It’s quite a challenge. The amount of knowledge and the speed of acquisition of knowledge needs to be extremely high. You’ve got to be hungry like nobody’s business.
DJAD:What advice would you give to students who’d want to eventually start their own practice?
AL:Self- belief. You’ve got to believe in yourself, and you should be willing to fail and fall. If you ask me why I started my own business, why not work for somebody else, I don’t know the logic. My family would not have been able to support me if I was down on the street. But there was some idiocy in me which told me that ‘kartein hain’ and this I can attribute to self belief.
The other aspect is ‘ambition’ which is very critical for every person. You have to be tremendously ambitious and driven. People associate it with money, as that’s what people see it translate into. But I think ambition should be about producing good and credible work, about fulfilment. The byproduct of good work is making money, recognition and respect. And this is not difficult, because there’s so much to do. We are here in India, not in Europe or the US, where things have been done hundred times over. So irrespective of whether you do business or work for somebody, there are tremendous opportunities in our country.
The last and the most important, which people give least value today, is a strong value system. Your self belief and ambition should be based on values. You should never try and compromise on these.
DJAD:What advice would you give to a young design graduate?
AL:Work hard, extremely hard. It’s important to be true to yourself and work towards your goal. We give up too soon or we come up with excuses, knowing very well all along that we have not tried hard enough and rightly.
It’s also important to surround yourself with good peers, pushing them to invest time in giving you true criticism, challenging you to add value, opening you up to new possibilities.
Don’t expect to become great overnight. It takes time. Malcolm Gladwell speaks about this in his book – ‘The Outliers’ He speaks about all the greats who have put in 10,000 hours of practice into becoming world class. Now that’s roughly 2 hours per day over 10 years. Now this is very doable, right?
Now if you look at my earlier argument, do you have 10 years to become world class ? So the contradiction is that because the world today is fluid, how will you gain that ten thousand hours of practice in any given field?
Today, that search for knowledge is something you should engrain within yourself. Because the world today does not allow you to be stagnated. Adapt or die. You have to embrace uncertainty like nobody else and be one with it. This is going to happen more in your life than in mine.
DJAD:So, at the end it’s about collaboration?
AL: Yes, but it is also about opening yourself up and making yourself capable to collaborate. That’s an important tool and skill to acquire, that I can work with people, that I cannot work in isolation. As I say, we are ordinary people doing extraordinary work.
Thank you for having me here at D.J.Academy, its feels very good to be on your campus.
5-must dos for branding institutions and corporations
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” ― Leon C. Megginson
Branding is understood in many different ways and its definitions are as varied. As a design studio, we started out in the arena of identity and branding some twenty years back and we increasingly embraced a human-centric approach. Brands need to build themselves with empathetic values, no different than living breathing people. We started to look at branding as a permeable field that enters all aspects of an organization’s ethos and environment to influence people and behaviour – which in fact is the essence of communication design. Here, we share with our readers our five pointers for branding:
1. Tap the essence Every branding program must tap the true essence of what a organisation is all about. Whether a big institution or a small start-up, honing in to ferret out the What-makes-You-factor which drives the brand defines your purpose and answers the why of what you do.
In the Bihar Museum, it was as simple as the Bo-tree – a symbol of wisdom and learning, and for Murugappa, the peacock – as symbol of national pride and heritage. This identity like a person will eventually be a complex personality, so when we scope this out, we always look at two aspects carefully – the roots of the organisation and its founding vision.
2. Speak in one voice We think about brands like we think about people. You can describe an individual in a few words, but you know he or she is much more complex. The many layers of the brand are ultimately what become its drivers. It does not rest with the simple identity, but explores a multi-faceted range of characteristics. A humanistic, well defined and well- articulated value system will allow each stakeholder to function independently – in a way allowing the entire organization to speak in one voice.
3. From Local to Universal It is important to see both the little and the big. In its formative years, modern design did not capture the universal in the local measurably in India, often separating Western ideology from Indian ethos. Our studio believes firmly in – think local act global – and have made it our approach for Indian brands.
Within the Tree of Wisdom, there is a triad of trees which represent the three pillars of the Bihar Museum – Great Dynasties, Supreme Knowledge and Way of Life. Further, the symbol has a bilingual bridge, a complex element, which brings history, language and acceptance of our colonial past together. This local to universal approach looking at small to big sends a pluralistic message while establishing pride of place.
4. Let your brand fly Branding is about letting your brand fly far and wide. You are no longer restricted to visibility in the top three popular mediums, so move to be relevant – ie., where your target group lives. Social and digital media are about emerging mediums, each having their own language and behaviour. Dive in and experiment across mediums, always holding on to who you are. This will not just allow you to take the essential first step but learn and implement, getting better in time. As you fly higher in a particular platform you will find new possibilities emerging giving you fresh opportunities to express yourself. Our identity for Sify reflected ‘Keeping you ahead’ in a simple strong logo with the square motif ahead, flying high.
5. Adapt or die In nature, the most persistent and innovative, outlast all other species to survive. While we don’t want to be seen as invasive, the brand has to be a creature that can manage in many different circumstances as scenarios change. In the Indian film industry for instance, the time-tested formula of hero-heroine-villain is increasingly being changed to scripts with female leads as in Queen, everyday life stories as in The Lunchbox and an aging father- young daughter relationship in Piku: these variants cater to a nuanced market, which has opened up new possibilities. These stories of change also shape mainstream cinema.
We design identity and branding looking at the possibility of change. Timelessness is linked to always staying in context and therefore agility. Brands are like live performers who must adapt and grow, or just adapt.
We are living in a time where Indians are increasingly conscious of the image of India and what being Indian means. As designers, we are acutely aware of how what we do shapes the way people think, feel and act. We are entrusted with the responsibility of creating images and these in fact influence what you buy, where you live and what you desire. This issue Crafting Design brings you the merging of design and craft in India.
We had the great fortune of being part of two specially wonderful projects both inspired by the crafts of India and our country’s diverse colourful fabric. The first involved a humanistic and people-centric branding for the Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centres. The first model centre was inaugurated by our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi at Jangla in Chattisgarh. Read more about how the diverse crafts of India come alive in Branding for longevity in a land of diversity.
The second project, branding for the PMNCH Forum held once in two years, has begun with a curtain raiser where our logo designed for their Partners’ Forum 2018 was also launched by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. A vibrant logo inspired by Pipli brought the six themes of the conference together as a world, celebrating how people working across sectors facilitate action on the ground. Read about our journey in The ring of human endeavour.
Our branding goes beyond a superficial approach to kindle the roots of our concerns. On this note, we want to share with you five magic pointers for branding, which are instrumental for institutional and corporate branding in our article Small bytes to big brands. These are precepts we developed for our approach and they specifically apply for this millennium and for the Indian milieu.
Thank you for reading and do share your feedback, ideas and thoughts with us!
Lopez Design has won the prestigious iF DESIGN AWARD for the Bihar Museum Identity we designed! Our winning entry is in the category of Identity/Branding, Corporate Communications. iF Design Awards, considered a badge of excellence, was established by the world’s oldest independent design organization, Hannover-based iF International Forum Design GmbH. This year they received 6,400 entries and an international jury of 63 made the winning selections through a rigorous process.
The story of our design starts at the Bihar Museum, a world-class institution in Patna, which needed a simple, universal symbol with the essence of Bihar. The Museum mission is ‘to bring back the glory of Bihar and pride to the people of the State’. Two millennia ago, many smaller Indian kingdoms were unified by ruling dynasties of the Bihar region, the greatest being the Mauryan dynasty during Asoka’s reign. This legacy of India linked to Bihar is largely forgotten. The Bihar Museum identity rekindles the past urging a renewed outlook to our history through the Museum. We identified three pillars of past civilizations – Great Dynasties, Supreme Knowledge and Way of Life – which supported a perfected society in the Bihar region. In the identity these became a triad of trees forming the Bodhi Tree of Wisdom, a symbol identifiable with Bihar and also universally recognized. The local is thus transported to the global sphere. Language is instrumental to keeping history alive and in the identity, we visualized it as a bilingual bridge connecting the past to the future. We take special pride in awakening Indian symbolism and culture through this expansive identity, which brings out India’s strength to absorb many influences.
“For 63 years and counting, the WorldSkills Competition has acted as a mirror to the evolution of trades across the world. Throughout these years many competition skills have disappeared, many have merged, and many new ones have materialized,” quoting from the site worldskills.org
This year, at the WorldSkills Competition in Abu Dhabi from 15th to 18th October, 28 competitors from India took part in 26 skill categories. Mohit Dudeja from India won silver for Pastry and Kiran K got a bronze for Prototype Modeling. Medallions are given to the top ten performers in every category and India got ten. In graphic design, our contestant Simoul Alva was a winner.
Simoul’s journey to WorldSkills began with Lopez Design. In 2016, Anthony Lopez, Founder Director Lopez Design was appointed Graphic Design Expert for WorldSkills from India and he set up a strategic and thorough process to find the perfect candidate. Aside of the candidates chosen through an entrance exam set up by the National Skill Development Corporation India, a wildcard entry was proposed and 30 candidates selected in the first round. Lopez Design implemented a rigorous process in the next rounds through various tests and interviews to judge IQ, skills and psychological strength capability for the tough road ahead. A score sheet was created with attributes given to each capacity that was to be judged and the weight given to each was determined. Through this systematic process, we narrowed down the field. From the three candidates who emerged successful in the final phase, Simoul Alva from NID was picked as the best choice.
Simoul says, “After I was selected, I was informed how I needed to learn not just graphic design, but how I should be technically sound. I was sent by Anthony to the best studios for technical learning. We often looked at design articles to critique what is good design and what is not. I gained a holistic understanding of design practice.” Simoul trained for over a year with Anthony. Then, she spent two months at Lopez Design’s studio from August to October with designers Deekshit Sebastian and Shivani Prakash giving her specialized inputs. Anthony Lopez explains, “We trained the candidate in identity, packaging, editorial and all aspects of design. She was recommended to Itu Chaudhari’s office where she could get a first hand learning of editorial. Closer to the competition, Wolfgang, a retired WorldSkill expert from Italy coached Simoul especially for the competition.”
Simoul, who went to a University in France on a student-exchange program from NID in the same year she was being trained, would call her mentors at Lopez Design to continue getting expertise and to broaden her horizons. She was also sent to Bordeaux, France to get a feel of a competition being held there. Two months before the Abu Dhabi event, Simoul and Anthony travelled to Moscow where a mini competition was organized for three days. Six countries, including Russia, Italy, Germany, France and India took part in this trial set-up.
WorldSkills is a community of 77 member countries with skill-oriented people coming together in an organized way to make an extraordinary impact. Doing well at the WorldSkills Competition is a major effort for competitors as unlike a sports event, this is a one-time chance to prove themselves. Competing member countries very seriously prepare their candidates, some for a period of four years. The event itself is spread across a huge arena in a temperature controlled space, where thousands come in through the day. Young people can observe what the participants are doing on machines as well as on their screens and get interested in acquiring skills. Anthony sums up, “There were 30 countries coming together, around 1300 participants and three to four thousand people who are actively involved in World Skills. The experience at Abu Dhabi was very humbling as I was constantly working with top notch experts in their field. A very intense training happens for participants.”
Simoul reflects, “You realize how big and important this competition is when you enter the hall, the magnitude of the entire enterprise. The pressure to perform with all of your abilities comes together in one place.” For Anthony Lopez, this is one step for Lopez Design but a huge leap for India – and he intends to ride this ship for as long to take forward design, education and skills to place our flag on this moon.