Log / Graphic Design

The Street Shop Makeover with Indianama 2018

Kunel Gaur and Sharon Borgoyary, the duo behind Indianama, talk about the 2018 edition which has given a visual makeover to 71 street-side shops in New Delhi, India.

By Rohini Kejriwal on 10 August

  • Indianama2018 Head

Indianama 2018 got 71 artists and graphic designers to create new identity systems for 71 street-side shops in New Delhi

For the past two years, New Delhi-based branding agency Animal - run by Kunel Gaur and Sharon Borgoyary - has been producing Indianama, a large-scale showcase and celebration of Indian art and illustration. The first edition in 2016 involved 69 designers creating maps for India for every year from 1947 to 2016; while in 2017, they got 70 designers to make thematic tourism posters that move for the project.

This year, the duo decided to take to the streets of India to celebrate India’s 71st year of Independence. They invited 71 artists and graphic designers to rebrand and give a visual makeover to 71 street-side shops in New Delhi by conceptualising, designing and initiating new identity systems for them. “When we started off, Indianama was just a side project intended to curate and put together Indian art for a showcase on Independence Day. We realised that it was time to change the approach to design and branding at a grassroot level and give back to the community. When you go outside India, you can see beautiful shops that have been exposed to design thinking, which is integrated into the packaging and branding. We wanted to do the same for our shopkeepers,” says Kunel, talking about the goal behind Indianama 2018.

From barbershops and egg-sellers to stationery shops and dhabas, the team handpicked 71 small shops across old Delhi in areas like Chandni Chowk, Karol Bagh, Saket, Mehrauli, Saidulajab, Jama Masjid, and Chowri Bazaar to give them a visual makeover. “There are countless businesses which spend their entire lives as nameless and lost shops on the streets of India. That's why we’ve gone hyper-local this time. By using a small entity like a local shop, we’ve taken a small start towards a much bigger vision,” notes Sharon.

Following this, they started the curation process of designers, with some having contributed to Indianama previously while the majority were picked from an open call. “The expanse of work this year was much larger and exciting. We curated the designers based on their body of work because the project called for some experience in branding and identity. It’s not just illustrators unlike the previous editions because an illustrator may not do justice to what is needed. Most of the work that's come in has been amazing. Our collaborators have gone to great lengths to extend the visual identity and create new systems of branding and collaterals for the shops,” shares Kunel. He adds that the selected designers were provided details about the artwork needed in terms of size, content and information specific to the shop they were allotted. After a few rounds of feedback, the final artworks were then implemented on site.

On the most rewarding part of the project, Sharon says, “We loved the fact that we didn’t know what the outcome would be or how the shopkeeper would feel about the designer’s vision. It’s been interesting to watch it all come together. The other aspect was that it wasn’t a digital medium like the past two years - it was hard bound and physical. We see it as an experiment not just in aesthetics but a prospect for us designers and artists to step out of our comfortable bubbles and address real problems and needs.” Kunel adds, “Personally, my most rewarding experience has been seeing the reactions of the owners’ when we showed them our ideas and first drafts. They gave us feedback like our actual clients do!”

However, making such a vision a reality hasn’t been an easy one. For one thing, the entire project was self-funded. “Funding has been challenging and we were hoping to get some sponsors, which didn’t happen. It also took a really long time to handpick the shops and convince the shopkeepers about the need for change and why this would be good for them. Since this has never been done, they were all suspicious about the intent of this project,” points out Kunel. Sharon concludes that while these challenges have been a learning curve, the journey has been more meaningful than they imagined, and that they’d like to expand this format to other cities as well in the coming years.

Here’s what a few participating designers have to say about their experience redesigning the identity systems for specific shops:

Deanne Fernandes, Khushid Ahmed’s Biryani Shop

I worked on Khushid Ahmed's Biryani Shop, located in Saket, Pushp Vihar. The shop was very raw in appearance and had no identity of its own. I intended to create a unique branding that describes its core identity by designing the main shop signage, the visuals for interior walls, menu, packaging and stationery. The design language drew inspiration from Mohammad Bhai, one of the people running the shop, who was always smiling, and the culinary spicy treat I experienced. As the sun would set, one could find customers flocking outside to get a spoonful of their famous biryani.

Hence, the creatives and communication had to be something that brought a smile to your face with a hint of Indian mirch masala showed by way of caricatures and other fun phrases and signs. To bring out the essence of the cuisine and to highlight its roots, I also added a Mughlai touch using ornate motifs. The color palette brings out the warmth of the biryani while the blues were mindfully added keeping Khushid Ahmed’s color preference.

  • Biryani Packaging

    New packaging and signages designed by Deanne Fernandes for Khushid Ahmed's Biryani Shop

Hence, the creatives and communication had to be something that brought a smile to your face with a hint of Indian mirch masala showed by way of caricatures and other fun phrases and signs. To bring out the essence of the cuisine and to highlight its roots, I also added a Mughlai touch using ornate motifs. The color palette brings out the warmth of the biryani while the blues were mindfully added keeping Khushid Ahmed’s color preference.

The whole process of interacting with local street shops and designing for them and the joy of bringing a difference to their life and their business was an amazing feeling. And the idea of bringing design out to the Delhi streets was very satisfying as an artist.

Abhishek Choudhury, Vaishno Dhaba

Set in the busy bustling streets of Lado Sarai, Vaishno Dhaba cooks up delicious experiences for their guests. 25 years ago, the founder Chalittar Mukhiya ji arrived in Delhi from a small town in Bihar after working in small dhabas. Being an extension of Mukhiya ji himself, the minimalism and simplicity of the restaurant resembles that of its owner. But in the cacophony of sights and sounds of Lado Sarai, it is very easy to miss Vaishno Dhaba.

The thought of an Indian dhaba aesthetic always tends to gravitate towards the kitschy and pop truck art aesthetic. But for Indianama 2018, I proposed a clean and minimal identity for Vaishno Dhaba to counter the commotion of its surroundings. In my personal work, I borrow inspiration from Indian street iconography and religious imagery, pop culture, vintage graphics and pop art. Based on my conversations with the owner, I decided to rebrand the dhaba by reviving its lost history with a classic vintage aesthetic, where the visual language and décor would hint at a story of legacy and lineage. Borrowing from the design of the menus of Indian royalty and vintage Indian packaging; I created an identity that was classy and nostalgia-driven, inspired by the Parsi cafes and Indian Coffee house aesthetic.

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Abhishek Choudhury's redesign for Vaishno Dhaba was inspired by the Parsi cafes and Indian Coffee house aesthetic.

The thought of an Indian dhaba aesthetic always tends to gravitate towards the kitschy and pop truck art aesthetic. But for Indianama 2018, I proposed a clean and minimal identity for Vaishno Dhaba to counter the commotion of its surroundings. In my personal work, I borrow inspiration from Indian street iconography and religious imagery, pop culture, vintage graphics and pop art. Based on my conversations with the owner, I decided to rebrand the dhaba by reviving its lost history with a classic vintage aesthetic, where the visual language and décor would hint at a story of legacy and lineage. Borrowing from the design of the menus of Indian royalty and vintage Indian packaging; I created an identity that was classy and nostalgia-driven, inspired by the Parsi cafes and Indian Coffee house aesthetic.

Mehak Mahajan, Jamil’s Green Vegetable Shop

For Jamil’s Green Vegetable Shop, the base design of a dense foliage in flat illustration style drew from all the colours and shapes that came to mind when I thought of a vegetable shop. I went with the primary overtone of green, keeping in mind Jamil’s obsession with the colour as well as it being as a symbol of the green-consciousness that runs through the collaterals designed for the shop.

  • Indianama Display Board Jamil Mehak

    Mehak Mahajan's collateral designs for Jamil's Green Vegetable Shop

I designed the logo to mirror the simplicity of the shop's name. The choice of an easily readable font ensured that it stayed true to the ethos of the establishment, while the accent-like leaf continues to carry the 'green' story forward.

Shreya Arora, Super Chef Rana Bakery

Creating an identity for Super Chef Rana Bakery was challenging due to two reasons - the first being my penchant for minimalist branding. While I love clean fonts and simple vectors, I recently realised that this is an aesthetic inspired largely by Western graphic design, and knew I'd have to break out of it to do justice to the maximalist visual feast Indian streets are. I used bold patterns and bright colours to try and create a language as visually appetising as Super Chef Rana Bakery's treats.

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    Shreya Arora's redesign for Super Chef Rana Bakery

Another major challenge was that there were little to no restrictions from the client's side. When the Indianama team set up a call between me and the shop owner, he was extremely receptive and unbiased, to the point where he didn't even have a colour preference. He simply asked me to do the best I could. Working with someone so open to ideas was extremely refreshing. So I tried to break out of the rigid grids and clean layouts I usually adhere to, and the process was transformative - I can only hope the shop owner and customers agree!

A packaged version of the project with mock ups of all the work - from signages to collaterals - by the participating artists will be on display at Bikaner House, Delhi, from August 9th to 25th. For more details, visit https://www.indianama.co

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