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Interview with Codesign

Interview with Codesign

"I like to think we collect people — because when they are here and  even after they have left — they add new stories, ephemera, flavours, songs, places, more people to the mix. And that on a daily basis, is inspiration, laughter and learning." says Mohor Ray, Director of Gurgaon based design studio Codesign, in their Kulture Shop Studio Interview. Learn more about the studio behind the award winning anthology Dekho: Conversations On Design In India.

KS: What kind of work does your practice specialize in?

Codesign: We work largely with brands and organisations to articulate and design brand identity. Our work with identity design runs across a diverse range of sectors, scale, audience and contexts. It’s been an ever-growing mix of challenges — from the century year old Royal Enfield brand, to the home-grown 2 decades ‘young’ Wildcraft, from a farmers’ cooperative in Kumaun to on-ground activation against sexual harassment in metros. In short, it keeps us on our toes. Occasionally and selectively, we also undertake communication design projects, where it has a significant role and function for the brand. Our year-long work on design of a new user-centric communication system for Dr Reddy’s pharmaceutical packaging is just beginning to roll out. Even more occasionally, but with equal perseverance, we also create self-initiated projects. The nature of these vary wildly in ambition and lifespan — the UnBox festival, the Dekho book, the Rising platform, a film, a display typeface etc — these are not motivated by the gaps in our creative practice, but the desire to make meaningful artefacts/conversations with our core strengths as designers from scratch.

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The Codesign Team: 11 Humans, 2 Dogs

KS: What are some of the challenges you have found being an Independent studio in India?

Codesign: Challenges that are external and out of your control, cannot be considered as grave impediments. They are in variable degrees — the reality/complexity/transient annoyance/work-in-progress etcetera. And mostly the joy of independent practice is good enough to get over it.

Bigger challenges are actually internal — of growing, evolving, admitting mistakes, diving into uncharted waters, letting go and perseverance. It is challenging because no one is going to be able to spot these things for you, and tell you when/why/how. The challenge is this, and it is ‘us’ and not the industry/client/city/country. Finding that inner compass — that guides the creative + moral + entrepreneurial fabric of your practice — that is the challenge. You ask about being in India. Sure, design is (relatively) nascent, but it is nascent all-round — as a practice, service & education. But that also means there is an open canvas, to create a new framework for a profession or business or curriculum that makes more sense, here and now.

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Inside Codesign 

KS: Tell us more about the Dekho anthology.

Codesign: Dekho is an anthology, of conversations around design, life and learning. With mentors, role-models and rockstars. Of stories that we felt needed to be shared, known and internalised. It began at a time when the world & content were not so seamlessly ‘connected’ and print seemed the best way to get these stories to travel. It took 4 years, 3 prototypes, 2 editorial upheavals and a lot of blood, sweat and optimism, to bring the book to life. And every bit of it continues to be precious, valuable learning. I don’t know if one book qualifies us for advice, but across the various independent projects we have successfully produced or tried to get off the ground, here are a couple of things we’ve learnt (about self-initiated projects):

  • Be clear about why you are doing it. It helps down the road, when it’s time to take tough calls.
  • Embrace ambiguity in the beginning, so that the process and rigour of creation can take its due course, and you make something larger than your initial spark.
  • Find your pace and enjoy it.
  • And the toughest one, find the heart and balls to look at your own work critically.

Dekho: Conversations on design in India from Codesign on Vimeo

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    KS: Any future products we can look forward to get out?

    Codesign: There’s a graphic narrative on being an average urban dweller, called Citizen, that has been slow cooking for a while. The illustration is complete and the writing is underway. Hopefully by this year-end we’ll have a second independent publication on our hands. There’s also a quirky display typeface in Latin, Devanagari and Tamil which is close to completion. Now if only we could agree on a name :)

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    Sneak preview into Codesign's upcoming project

    Quirky items Codesign collects for inspiration:

    Over more than 10 years now, with all the people who have been here, the studio space is full of an assortment of souvenirs, old sketches, gifts, odd material samples, books, artworks…somehow they all find a space/nook/cranny/shelf. I like to think we collect people — because when they are here and even after they have left — they add new stories, ephemera, flavours, songs, places, more people to the mix. And that on a daily basis, is inspiration, laughter and learning.

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    Barbeque Chill Time

    Find Codesign on Kulture Shop.

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    Find Codesign on Google Maps.

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