Before we dwell deep into the Indian design studios and their continued success, we must acknowledge how far back in history design translates from. India has been a culturally rich land known for intricate art and craftsmanship. The cultural heritage of India can be noted from the historic monuments that detail ornate motifs reflecting Indian culture. From highlighting its textiles to colours, many designers draw inspiration from India’s rich cultural heritage.
Today, India is a burgeoning hub of creativity and innovation. When we think of the design sector, from graphic design to UX/UI to product and more, there are several consulting design firms in each field. This growth spurt has been driven by some leading designers who pioneered their own consulting firms. They were able to challenge the traditional norms and weave a contemporary narrative into the Indian design studios. Bringing together the rich cultural landscape of India with its exquisite craftsmanship. Many of the contemporary design studios in India started a decade to two decades ago and have garnered global accolades for their exceptional work. These are the pioneers of the Indian design world whose work extends beyond brand identities, and user experiences to help shape societal perceptions.
These studios have stood through time, evolved in their work, spread across various design disciplines, and had a profound impact on the industries. The 1960s saw the establishment of some design institutions in the country that helped to cradle design education in India. It fostered a design culture that brought in a gradual shift in its economic landscape. As the country progressed, the demand for design services grew. Branding, visual communications, marketing, and product development became core areas for design firms to carve their niche in.
Here are some remarkable contemporary design studios in India:
Founded in 1989 by Ashwini Deshpande and Ashish Deshpande, Elephant Design is a global design agency that runs between Singapore and India. In service for 34 years, they have accomplished 2700+ projects across a range of sectors. Some examples of design work by Elephant Design are:
i. Tata motors x Elephant Design
This partnership was specifically for the Tiago project.
Aim: To reposition the automakers as a youth-centric brand.
Project Work: To design a compact car with youthful energy. The brand worked on enhancing the car design with vibrant hues, and dynamic lines to offer the audience a sense of playfulness with its exterior and interior design.
USP: The modern innovation Elephant Studio infused into the car was its signature ‘humanity line’ on the car’s front grille along with its ‘floating’ dashboard design. Setting the car apart from its competition. Bringing out the youthful side of the car to connect with its owners.
Market Impact: The design was a hit with its young audience. Tata Tiago became one of Tata Motors most successful models. All thanks to its contemporary, modern, and vibrant design.
ii. Paperboat x Elephant Design
Aim: To revive traditional Indian beverage recipes via its innovative packaging, evoking nostalgia among customers.
Project Work: Elephant took the massive task of redesigning Paperboat’s product packaging and brand identity. With a focus on blending contemporary design with Indian cultural connect, they worked with traditional art, forms, patterns, and narratives. Using these they build visually striking packaging concepts that would resonate with the users.
USP: They transported the users to a bygone era. Introducing the brand with hand-drawn illustrations inspired by Indian folklore, ingredients, and landscapes.
Market Impact: Paperboat products became an instant hit. It evoked an emotional response in the audience. The redesign won critical acclaim and struck a chord with consumers. The new re-design, it helped the brand to be the most recognizable brand on busy store shelves. Easy for consumers to sight and pick, leading to an increase in brand retention and sales.
Elephant Design has transformed many products and brand identities for brands like Parle, Asian Paints, Bajaj Auto, ICICI Bank, Venky’s amongst others.
Ray + Keshavan
They are one of the leading design and branding consultancy in India. Founded in 1989 by Sujata Keshavan and Ram Ray, the design studio has a legacy of two decades with many successful projects under their umbrella. Blending Indian sensibilities with evolving global culture, they offer services in branding, visual identity, packaging, and retail design. One of the many successful campaigns has been:
Titan x Ray + Keshavan
Aim: To reposition and establish Titan as a global player in the watch industry.
Project Work: The work entailed brand repositioning and product design for Titan Industries. The approach was innovating the brand’s product with a global appeal while combining that with Indian aesthetics.
USP: Emphasizing craftsmanship, precision, and affordability, the design studio introduced Titan to innovative watch designs. These designs resonated with the Indian consumer base with its iconic ‘edge’ collection. They were ultra-slim designs that helped to set Titan apart.
Market Impact: Led to Titan becoming one of India’s most recognized and trusted brands.
Make in India campaign
Ray + Keshavan developed the Make in India campaign. They designed the iconic lion logo which symbolizes the country’s strength and manufacturing powers. Their efforts behind the visual identity design helped them to make the campaign a globally recognizable one. It reflects India’s commitment to manufacturing and evokes a sense of pride and unity. The campaign garnered significant investments in India in the manufacturing sector.
SpiceJet, Lifebuoy, The Times of India, and Kingfisher Airlines are some other brands amongst many others Ray + Keshavan worked on.
Lemon Design was founded in 2000 in Pune, India, by Dipendra Baoni. One of India’s leading design houses they are focused on working with user-centric design to create a meaningful difference for brands, spaces, interfaces, packaging, and products. One of the many successful projects taken on board by Lemon Design:
Tanishq x Lemon Design
Aim: To create a modern and inviting shopping experience for customers.
Project work: Lemon Design worked with Tanishq to blend contemporary design with cultural richness of Indian jewellery. Reimagining the interiors of jewellery stores across the nation to incorporate Indian art and heritage while maintaining a modern and elegant façade.
USP: What set the context straight was the use of vibrant hues with traditional motifs and customized interiors. This harmonious design offered customers the opportunity to explore jewellery in a relaxed environment.
Market Impact: The project received massive success as it revolutionized the jewellery retail experience in India. It created new benchmarks for brands to reach to then become a trusted jewellery brand at a global stage.
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Lemon Design has created brilliant and critically acclaimed design strategies for Hidesign, IDBI Federal Life Insurance amongst others.
A few other prominent design studios of the country that helped shape the contemporary design space in India are:
a. Foley Design based in Bangalore was founded by Micheal Foley in 1992.
b. URBZ, based in Mumbai founded in 2008 by Rahul Srivastava and Matias Echanove.
These studios have redefined many brands that we interact with on a day-to-day basis. Reflecting the revolutionary journey of Indian design studios to reach the global stage with their design strategies.