Let walls do the talking
POOL invited Anthony Lopez to give a talk on aspects of communication design at the Oxford Bookstore. This is 4th in the series of talks organized by POOL.
Anthony’s talk covered the various branding for corporate environment initiatives by Lopez Design as PwC, Mercer and UNICEF. The subject of his talk Visual Landscapes: Creating Conscious Branded Environments, is summarized: As communication designers we are filtering consciousness into the sterile environment making it interactive. With human interaction, the object world, especially designed environments are always functioning to spell out an ethos. Even if built environment as such is considered inanimate, in a way, a great branded environment starts to have its own life, which it infuses into every person.
LD talks to key professionals at the talk.
Anthony’s storytelling abilities came to the fore as he naturally wove narratives around the brand ethos differentiating between design approaches and advertising. Atika Gupta Bose of Apeejay Group who hosted the show at Oxford Book Store says, “I found the talk and the kind of projects very interesting. I went back home with a fresh set of ideas!”
Looking at the past 25 years, Sagarmoy Paul, a senior communications designer from NID observes, “The good thing about this is it the sharing – a change from the the secretive and competitive design world earlier. We are at a stage where we are no more insecure that someone will take away our ideas.” Textile designer, Chandrasekhar Bheda reiterates this thought, “An idea can be out out anywhere in social media. And by this, the designer’s belief that was doing something exclusive is no longer necessarily true. Many similar ideas are out there.”
The designer is also no longer working within a specific realm but a merge of fields. He must wear varied thinking caps, juggling positions to approach broad-based solutions. Says Sagar, “The barriers between product and graphic design are long gone.” This is particularly relevant in case of environment branding, which Sagar differentiates from environment graphics, a term used to classify outdoor graphics for events, sports and theme parks. “Of course it is branding, but in the case of corporate environments it affects internal communications for a niche group in the office – mostly employees and some visitors.” Since corporate environment design is not available to the public at large, a layperson or even a designer may not have had the experience. Says Sagar, “Today, there are quite a few designers working in this area and they bring a unique collaboration to work. Agencies may not be able to handle this as it is more storytelling through concepts and metaphor, not a tangible product.”
The notion of why it is important for corporate environments to embrace this kind of approach to design is pertinent. The values and beliefs of an organization are not always easy to reiterate, but embedded into the environment, they become accessible like a blueprint plan for all to follow, visual cues and text messages giving the impetus for behavior patterns. Sagar elaborates, “Many times younger people do not know about value systems. It is also visually very nice, these explorations in many different materials. If we are talking about branding retail environments, whether Beijing or Delhi, it is all the same. Whereas here, the design challenge is greater: every time you are thinking anew.”
Bheda who started Spider Design has done projects with Lopez Design for UNICEF. He also recalls his bespoke pieces for Cairn and Suzlon’s One Earth Campus. While doing their rebranding Suzlon thought of colours and ideas and invited Bheda to collaborate on a textile installation in a business hall. Comparing the use of textiles in acoustic panels and curtains, Bheda says about graphic tapestries, “This is new for textiles in this environment – this idea of narrating a story.” Happily, with cumulative experiences, Bheda has started getting his ideas accepted in the very first attempt. He observes the designer’s condensed learning materializing in this area, “There is a great intellectual advantage in this way of looking at the brand; normally it is commercial. This approach brings a completely fresh outlook.” One can be elated about the fact as well, Bheda notes, that design is calling the shots. With the radical ideas the designer brings to the table, he has the ability to convince the client. Bheda points out, “After a point, the client does not have to think. When they approach the designer, the studio already has a capable group of people ready to handle the branding. Whenever I have collaborated in this spirit, I find it a very good position for a designer. Yet, the responsibility becomes bigger.”
Ultimately the design company will want to do better and better with fresh approaches towards design. This forms the ultimate challenge in environment graphics for a design firm: to get to the core of a company’s philosophy and to create visually stimulating material that creates unique responses responsibly.