The ancient applique craft of Pipli brought a humanistic face to branding in one of the most cohesive and purposeful branding projects by Lopez Design for the Partners’ Forum 2018 in New Delhi this December. The unique identity design, events and collaterals, showcased the six core themes of the ‘Every Woman Every Child’ global strategy of PMNCH.

Over 2018, our studio saw pieces of colorful patchwork in blue, green, red, magenta, yellow, white and black coming together to make playful forms of women, children and environments. Inspired by the applique art of Pipli, our design team created the logo for the Partners’ Forum 2018, bring six sectors together for change in the form of a ring. For the curtain raiser in April, engaging Pipli craftswomen to create the identity on a cloth scroll seemed both natural and appropriate. Anthony Lopez, founder Lopez Design, says, “We took the idea forward to design the entire conference materials in applique on cloth, instead of environmentally unfriendly fabric like flex, which the client accepted very well.”

The pieces of colorful applique coming together to craft an identity brought many aspects together: a logo which celebrated the partnership of sectors, the revitalization of craft, a powerful platform for the voice of women and a long life for the brand. “Conferences normally die”, says Lopez, explaining how the design team came up with an unusual solution to extend the life of the Forum. Completing the ecosystem, all conference collaterals like banners and signs were all repurposed into table runners, pillow covers and wall hangings, which the delegates would take home. The message would continue in the lives of all recipients.

“For the first time, the identity delivers the theme – cross-sectoral partnership – in reality”, says Lopez.

The branding delivered across many levels. Studio Eeksaurus was brought in to create a mesmerizing animation of the logo for the opening ceremony. Twelve women drummers from the Marathi group Bhawani Dhol Tasha Pathak played the welcome rhythms. The 1600-strong audience applauded a collaged video What Women Want, done for the first-time inside Vigyan Bhawan using 3D projection mapping created by Splat Studio. At the Closing Ceremony, a walk down the path with a memorable wrap-up film made by us was showcased at the end, portraying the behind-the-scenes of teams, PMNHCH, Health Ministry, Pipli craft persons, Splat Studio, Studio Eeksaurus, women drummers and Lopez Design. The film also covered the event sessions, informal interactions, videos gone viral, fun moments, photo -opportunities, guest bytes and euphoria moments! For the design team, it was a refreshing redefinition of what design can do. The rewards were exhilarating, opening up new avenues.

Our learnings:

1. We are not limited by the medium of our primary practice

Lopez Design, right from inception, has engaged in collaborative work. The Partners’ Forum project is true to this spirit, a powerful co-creation across many platforms, involving various artists, teams and technology. As Anthony Lopez says, “This aspect of ‘I do not know it all’ is an important part.” For instance, the Partners’ Forum anthem, sung by Abelone (celebrity artist from Norway and UNICEF Ambassador to Ethiopia) accompanied by two singers, was written by Brigid McConville and Hazel Sainsbury of London, and composed by Shri Sriram also from London. Voices were added by KC Loy along with Suresh Eriyat in Mumbai.

2. Design as a transformative force

Design is often misunderstood as a cosmetic solution, but it is truly a tool of intervention and a transformative force. By giving artisans designs to make for the future, we gave them a stepping stone. Anthony Lopez explains, “And lastly and more importantly, the client has happily agreed to give the designs over to the Pipli craftswomen to sell commercially.” The design studio hopes to connect with a wide-reaching organization like IKEA, also committed to the advance of sustainable craft economy.

3. Event Branding is not just about a single platform

At the end of the conference, the banners and signage systems were converted to table runners, wall hangings and bed-covers, to be given to delegates.

Excited about this multidimensional aspect of re-purposing, Lopez says, “These products are going to people’s homes or offices. So, the brand is going to extend its life by re-purposing.”

4. Design goes beyond the designer

Looking at celebrating India’s culture, the designers simultaneously looked at being inclusive and relevant to the Forum’s vision.  Good design was achieved by being sensitive to the needs of the client PMNCH and managing their goals. Anthony Lopez says, “India and other developing nations are constituted or people at the grassroots level. These are people at the base of the pyramid and they need to be impacted by a program of this kind. This was enabled by the craft connection, powerfully and strongly.”

5. It’s important for design to be humanistic

For Lopez Design, the most important thing the identity cracks, is being humanistic as Anthony Lopez observes, “A lot of graphic design is becoming cold and minimalistic. Contemporary is equated to Swedish, European and American design.” Here, the beauty of imperfections and handmade of Pipli craft brought power to the solution. “The figures were not perfect forms. It’s not a standard template. And so, this whole aspect of solving human problems is central in the branding to say – this is about you.

The end is a new beginning
The Partners’ Forum event was a remarkable example of diversity unifying for a common cause – multi-lingual guests across the globe coming together for the elevation of health for women, children and adolescents. This was witnessed across the holistic and cohesive branding across multi-platform and multi-purpose offerings, reflecting a strong co-creation of value in design. Lopez Design has also proposed a model to the Ministry and PMNCH to commercially support the artisans with these designs, and a likelihood of a tie-up with a company to use these designs, globally. This vision, when steered in the right direction, would stand as a strong example of cross-sectoral partnership.

Written by Sujatha Shankar Kumar