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Itu Chaudhuri

Many of us look for upcoming trends to be ready for future demands of customers or clients. You already must have read many articles on predicting trends at the beginning of each year. Here read on for a very unique view on design trends by Itu Chaudhuri, founder and principal at Itu Chaudhuri Design.

It’s a modern, seasonal disease. The new year brings with it a thick flow of trend forecasts, cheery and sweeping, and we read them with the forgiving spirit that the holiday season demands. For Deep Design, it seems foolhardy to indulge, yet churlish to desist, so here’s a holiday smoothie on trends themselves.

Some trends forecast, such as those in fashion, are meant to be self-fulfilling. The great and big among the fashion industry make them. Thus buyers know what colours and styles to buy, and retailers know what to stock. The media is in it at the start, happy to report what the well-dressed citizen will be wearing. The consumer, she of the clued-in, independent mind, is eager to confirm: it’s only fitting. Paris/Milan/Mumbai know best; empty shelves help no one.

Trends

The communications industry, unlike those that stock things, doesn’t face the risk of empty shelves. Yet trends there surely are. The dozen or so portfolios and the artfully designed CVs that our office reviews monthly give a clear view into what the bottom of the food chain has been eating. A set of colour palettes, a certain taste in typefaces, and a tendency to gratuitously quantify, in order to contrive a graph to replace text (give yourself a 75% hardworking score, or three and a half stars).

But unlike fashion, there’s no Big Design, no dominant source heavily invested in the forecast. Pantone, a widely used colour communication system, comes closest to announcing trends, along with paint manufacturers who try to drum up interest in their new shades, a hue and cry, if you will. For the most part, these graphic trends result from simple imitative impulses. This may account for the relative stability of these design trends.

DESIGNERS (WHICH INCLUDES COMMUNICATORS, MARKETERS AND POLICY MAKERS) SHOULD CONTINUE TO TAKE THE TRENDS THEMSELVES WITH A GRAIN OF ETHICALLY-PRODUCED, IODIDE-RICH, ROCK OR SEA SALT.

But common to all trends forecast, and trend commentating, is the theorising that identifies and proposes the driving currents. Inevitably, large, global turns of politics and their economic, social and cultural facets are called out as driving forces: Brexit, Trump and unless you are observing news fast (another micro-trend) you know the rest. Deep Design, too, has indulged early and often, such as linking the discontents behind the rise of the US prez to those boosting the rise of Patanjali long before the final elections, not to imply direct link but to speculate on a similar mood driving both.

Trends

Anti-globalisation and nationalism are the most familiar labels applied to this phenomenon. Commentators hear the voices of groups who feel ‘disenfranchised’, speaking with eerie simultaneity across continents. These voices have exhausted their patience with the ruling intelligentsia, and abhor its factual (or specious, or false), well-articulated utterances: better a mis-spelled, ‘feeling’ untruth that promises action, than an unproductive, pedantic truth. Going further: a suspicion of democracy, technocracy, complexity and balance, and the citified, corporate or university culture that spawns them; a yearning for viscerally inspired gestures. (Other strands omitted for brevity).

The trends forecast that respond to these may be summarised (in a post-truth kind of way!) as a return to roots and basics; a preference for imperfection; the recycled; rough and natural finishes (call them unfinished). The broad theme: authenticity.

Pantone’s Colour of the Year is Greenery 15-0343, to represent ‘fresh beginnings’ complemented by earth and mineral tones, and upcycled materials. Primary colours (from flags, and nationalism) remain in force. Expect packaging to be literally and otherwise transparent, to convey the authenticity of provenance (add: bucolic-ness and humanity). Photography, it says, will be more ‘real’ in terms of the human subjects, with emotion (add: imperfect skin) getting extra marks. The trend towards active, sports-inspired wear continues (cementing the general trend towards informality)

Despite the smell of truth about the causes that drive these trends, designers (which includes communicators, marketers and policy makers) should continue to take the trends themselves with a grain of ethically-produced, iodide-rich, rock or sea salt.

For one thing, many of these trends are old and long-running. Look at restaurants that have opened in the last ten years in your metropolis, and note how similar many of the trends you spot in the concept and the design of the space. Exposed air conditioning ducts, cocktails in jam jars (Deep Design’s pet peeve), rope, rough-hewn wood, local produce and food fusion. And watch for authentically brush drawn lettering on menus, coming soon to a grubhouse near you.

Further, trends forecast are popular because they feed our confirmation biases; many may well have other less (or more) obvious causes, preventing a proper understanding. Several trends run concurrently and play out differently depending on cultures (defined by geography and age).

LONG-TERM TRENDS MAY EXERT A MORE STRATEGIC FORCE WITH WHATEVER YOU ARE DESIGNING. BUT IT’S BEST TO BE ALIVE TO THE BABEL OF THE CONVERSATIONS WITHOUT BEING IN A HURRY TO ISOLATE ANY ONE SIGNAL, IS THE GOLDEN PATH.

This means paying attention to the invisible drivers behind the trends. For example, the most valuable lesson from post-truth is an ancient one: that the tendencies of people to think through the filter of their identities, anxieties, and pride trump all others. In this state, they will ignore ‘good design’ as a source of meaning. That’s what Trump’s diabolically plain election identity conveyed—nothing—which may have resonated with his voters as authentic, much better than the professionally designed, pointing-ahead, promise-laden ‘H’ from a Capitol-ist they didn’t trust.

Issue 45

Published in Issue 45

When celebrations are all around for the new year, everyone is curious about what this new year will bring. So, the rounds of looking back to the past year and trying to predict the new one starts. We started the same exploration through this issue by reaching various experts for their take on the trends for their respective fields. And with many expert interviews, we got various unique viewpoints, as Elephant Design shared the importance of having a well-thought packaging design for products. And on another hand, VGC gave an insight into, how a brand should be created for the Millennials. But to top it all, with very deep logical design thought, Itu Chaudhuri says that the trends are a modern seasonal disease, and we designers should continue taking it with a grain of ethically-produced, iodide-rich rock or sea salt. All-in-all this issue is a very interesting and a must-read, if you’re looking for greater clarity and want to start your year with a lot of deep design knowledge about the brand development to packaging design, user experience design, to storyboarding and more.

 

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Creative Gaga - Issue 47

 

Graphic designer, Itu Chaudhuri, lets out his experience and insight in the field of branding. He expresses what goes into creating effective brands, and the various aspects or elements that play a role in the process.

Branding
The Wild Stone Code Range.

CG. What is the relationship between the product and the branding? How does the former shape or inspire the latter?

IC. For some brands, the product’s properties are the heart of the brand. For example, we know Mercedes by their cars, which are a model of stability and Germanic engineered perfection; not by their advertising or showrooms or their F1 Cars (which they do very well). For those brands, branding needs to reflect what’s special about the product, but rarely reflects the product itself. The ‘what’s special’ part, in turn, depends on the category. For more functional products, it’s about a clear benefit from using it (e.g. relieving pain).

Branding
The Real Tea Range.

For less functional brands, the benefit may be more in the mind i.e. how it makes people feel, or its ‘values’ (what it encourages its customers to believe in). This is also true for brands, which we know by their advertising more than by the special qualities of the product (e.g. a mobile service like Vodafone or Airtel). But, rarely does the branding show the product itself. If the product is a packaged product that’s never unpacked (think deodorants, or insect repellents, or a fizzy drink), then the branding and the product are practically fused (even when large advertising budgets support the brands).

Branding
Branding
Branding
Eicher Live.

CG. According to you, How and to what extent, does branding impact an audience?

IC. Every customer knows that they are being manipulated. So, branding works best when it slips under the radar of the customers or escapes their ‘crap detector’. Yet, if the brand seems to admit this while managing to charm the customers, it works. The audience is then willingly helpless to resist. This means that the branding is, in some sense, invisible when it appears to belong or be inevitable as if there was no other way it could have appeared. This requires honesty on the owner’s part and linking the brand to what is true. Despite this, it’s carefully orchestrated. Simply appearing artless won’t do it. Done right, it can succeed in disarming the customer.

Branding
The Almirah.
Branding
The Almirah.

CG. What do you do to ensure that the brand character comes across fully in the final design?

IC. Personality is the key, and thus cannot be overlooked or sidelined at any stage. It’s a mental model of the brand that describes the brand’s character and attitude, more like a representative, and thus implies its appearance.

Brand applications for ‘Hired’.

CG. What do you feel should be proportion, or how much is the need for balance, between minimalism and complexities in a design?

IC. The point isn’t a balance: it’s more a purposeful imbalance. Different brands need different treatments, so that one may do best in a minimal style, and another with a busy, or even chaotic style. This is a necessary facet that one needs to recognise and remember throughout the process.

Branding
Annual Report Design for IDFC.
Branding
Branding
Branding
Branding
Branding

CG. What do you feel is an essential part of branding?

IC. Deep understanding of the client’s truth is fundamental and most essential, but making sure that it’s attractive to their customers is of value, at the same time. If you succeed on the first count and fail on the second, you touch no one. The other way around, and the attraction will be skin deep. It very clearly is a case of both or nothing.

Branding
Publication design for Breakthrough.

Published in Issue 38

This issue, we try to explore different views from many well-known studio owners and senior designers. While Anthony Lopez of Lopez Design shared tips on what a studio looks for in a designer, Mohar Ray from Codesign highlights the key aspects that play a significant role and make the difference in whether you are hired or not as a promising designer. Also, this issue has an insightful article on ‘Branding with reason and love’ from Itu Chaudhuri, founder ICD (Itu Chaudhuri Design) along with Siddhi Ranade, explaining his tools of story telling through his unique style of illustrations. This issue is a must read for a talented graduate to a branding expert. Order you copy and enjoy reading it!

 

Order Your Copy!
CURRENT ISSUE
Creative Gaga - Issue 47