Kyoorius Designyatra: Spotlight on relevance, context, impact & change
In its 11th edition, Kyoorius Designyatra has moved to Jaipur this year. Day 1 of India’s first and biggest visual communications conference witnessed power-packed speakers from across the globe sharing their purpose on ‘Why Am I Here’, which is also the theme of the conference this year. Attended by over 1,300 delegates annually, Designyatra has become a calendar event for many professionals from the creative industry, corporates, brands and marketing managers.
The theme for Designyatra 2016 comes from the questions we’ve been asking ourselves for years. Questions of relevance, context, real impact and change out there in the real world beyond the conference itself. Why are we here? To design some books, logos and posters, write kickass scripts and shoot cool films, or win Pencils and Lions? To have fun being creative, to chase passions and dreams or just to make ends meet? Is there something more to this? What is the point?
Independence is everything
Moderated by Vineeth Vincent, Founder, The Meditating Monkeys, Musical Cubicle & Sidestep, the day’s session was opened by Tony Davidson, Global Partner, Wieden + Kennedy. Davidson puts much of his creativity down to his late father who was an inventor of the ‘Heath Robinson’ mould, but also believes that luck played a big part in his career as well. He stated that it is important to accept failure and also demonstrated it with an example of his work on TVC for Frisk. After sharing a few insights behind his works like Dan & Dave’s Chocolate Coin Factory, www.obble, Lurpark Butter, Davidson said, “Having right connections is the reason why am I here. I am here because I am forever curious, because I never said no to cause chaos.” For him, independence is everything. He further noted that everyone believes, work comes first, but actually people come the first. Everything good is not easy. Walk in stupid every morning, keep questioning is what he commented through the line. “I ask stupid questions because I am not that clever,” he added. He concluded by cautioning people against trophy hunters because they are everywhere out there.
Making a difference with design
On the other hand, Michael Johnson, Founder, Johnson Banks, UK, was here to find interesting problems to solve. He urged people to aim higher then flogging fizzy drinks. Coming with 24 years of experience in the industry, Johnson has worked on projects for the British Government, art centres in Philadelphia and Paris, a space observatory in Japan and exhibitions in Chine. Talking about design solutions for the non-profit organisation, Johnson said, “The problem, at present, lies in how graphic designers and advertising agencies handle non-for-profit work. They treat it the same way old Catholic churches would treat indulgences: a little act of good will for their smooth sailing to heaven, or to pacify their conscience.”
According to him, they don’t do it to actually make it work. The topic for this discussion was Cystic Fibrosis (is a genetic disorder that affects mostly the lungs, but also the pancreas, liver, kidneys, and intestine). Johnson Banks has been working since the beginning of 2012 with the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, who approached them to help them clarify and relaunch their brand in the UK. As the research stage progressed, as mentioned on the website, the design company kept asking, but ‘what is it, exactly?’ and received a multitude of different responses. Mid way through the research stage they had a breakthrough when they noticed the ‘is’ at the end of ‘fibrosis’. They suggested the charity should activate the ‘is’ in their name with a series of statements, effectively forcing it to always explain what it is, does, and why they are here. Some are simple: ‘cystic fibrosis why we’re here’, some uplifting – ‘cystic fibrosis a battle we must win. A simple ‘is’ created a worldwide conversation wherein people from all across the globe illustrated why they are here and which also helped them in raising the funds to support the cause. Their current major project is to rebrand technology company Mozilla.
Further, Johnson questioned himself and everybody in the audience whether we could produce open-source software. “Then why can’t we rebrand in the open. What if design could make a difference?” he asked. He further answered the queries by illustrating a gist of some of his works and concluded by saying, “Design can make a difference and you can too”.
In India, Entrepreneur = Unemployed!
Next on the dais, was 24-year-old Prukalpa Sankar, Co-founder, SocialCops, India.
Having majored in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering with a Minor in Entrepreneurship, Prukalpa decided to spend her life doing the latter. Later, she also agreed that being an entrepreneur in India is equal to being an unemployed. While sharing an anecdote, Prukalpa said that the first time she realised why she was here was when she met a street cleaner named Mukesh. She said, “No one knows him, no one can identify them. We did. We had organised an awards ceremony honouring the best of street workers. The true happiness and pride on their face made me realise why am I here.”
She then co-founded the company named SociolCops, a data intelligence company which solves problems that the developing world faces with data. Elaborating on the work further, she said, “Our designers and engineers routinely interact with the “next billion” – anyone from the users who have never used a smartphone to the government officers who have only seen reports on paper.”
In a post published by the entrepreneur on her LinkedIn profile, Prukalpa mentions that the average user of the mobile based data collection tool is someone like Promila, which she discussed during her session as well. “Promila is a 7th class pass, Marathi speaking woman who lives in Raigadh. She never used a mobile phone before our partner gave her a tablet to visit households, where she will collect data and disseminate healthcare information.” According to her, over the next decade, the next 6 billion will have their first interaction with technology, mostly via a mobile phone. “Designing for Promila poses a challenge that will require building new design paradigms for the future. Therefore, design matters.”
Collaborating with different talents
Born in Monterrey, Sebestian Padilla, Founding Partner, Anagrama, Mexico was the most chilled out of all and had the audiences in splits with his great sense of humour. Padilla feels that Monterrey is no different than India in many aspects. He added, “Monterrey is an industrial city/ boring/ grey. I am not that passionate about design. It was hard to choose a major when I was only 17. Graphic designing was the easiest to get into, out of the many options ranging from architecture to films.”
Anagrama is an international, branding, architecture and software development firm with offices in Monterrey and Mexico City. Padilla believes that coming up with great design solutions and a strange scenario of his city helped him build the project and foray into everything from architecture to software development and feature films. He said, “I am not the leader of each one, but I am happy to be onboard.”
According to him, collaborating with creativity is amazing, but it’s even better to collaborate with different talents. He shared with the audiences some glimpses of his work and colleagues. He believes that if one is surrounded with right kind of people, they can do anything. ‘Nurse’, a fashion brand inspired by simplicity, the work is in its nascent stage now. According to Padilla, Energy, Diversity, Principles, Skills, and Trust are what it takes to be here.