Ishan Khosla Design was recently a part of an exhibition called 20 Under 35, organized by Design X Design and held at Alliance Française de Delhi. This exhibition showcased the work of Delhi based designers to facilitate a reading of the emerging trends across various design based creative industries in the city.
Our installation was based on the “kaavad” or traditional shrine which opens like a book. The exhibition was meant to be an open-book of our studio, our interests, concerns, projects and future vision.
Some of the topics we discussed in the installation were – the issue of the dying crafts of India and how cheap Chinese goods were flooding our markets and the ubiquity of “Fake Graphics” and how other graphic designers are helping companies produce replicated products which are geared to fool the consumer (see image below). We also showcased some of our projects where we worked with crafts people to create an “Indian Graphic Language” which merges craft and graphics.
Our exhibition was designed around the journey of the studio so far and how we imagine its growth in the future. The introduction from the exhibition:
I recently found a sketchbook filled with logos I designed when was I eight. Maybe, I was always meant to be a designer; I just took a long time to figure that out. When I was 22, I lost most of my vision, which was thankfully restored by brain surgery. This traumatic experience became the catalyst for my deep interest in design. My first real experience with graphic design was an expression of my emotions post the trauma.
After living in the US for twelve years, I returned to India in 2008 to start Ishan Khosla Design. On my return, my eyes opened up to the unique and rich craft culture of the country. I had an urge to rediscover India — its rich artistic heritage, as well as the eccentric side of daily life, which is seen in vernacular graphics and products. I find the ordinary, the discarded and the unusual exciting and inspiring. I try to bring this craziness and lateral thinking into our design practice. This makes our work look “non-commercial”, unexpected and yet highly professional. We design brand identities, websites, books and their covers. Our work has been featured in Taschen’s Asian Graphics Now, Rockport’s Logo Lounge 6 and Shapes & Symbols as well as in Graphis, Plazm and :Output Awards. I was one of six Indian designers to be invited by the Dutch Government to help foster collaboration in design. I was a finalist of British Council’s Young Creative Entrepreneur Awards 2010.
My continued interest in creating distinct, personal and hand-done work for my clients integrates with the idea of working with professionals from other artistic disciplines. For many of our newer works, we have worked with hoarding painters, mehndi artists, Kaavad craftsmen and qatibs to create work that is conceptual and fresh.
In the future, I see myself working even more closely with various craftspeople to develop my version of the Indian Graphic Language. This exhibit highlights the process, work and future directions of the company. It is a snapshot of our personal interests, collections and the inspirations for our team.
What got me started in collecting these objects was the fact that they all say the same thing but by the variation in typeface and color, they are “branded” differently. As a metaphor they are quite compelling for any graphic designer. One gets to also see versions which are more literal with images on them or on the other hand, just the strong red on white. There’s also an element of humor and people have transformed the messages of some of these signs, for instance, “We Paint”, “Aint Wet”.