11 Oct 2017
9 min read
A new breed of graphic designers in Nepal are creating products that embody their clients’ vision through cutting-edge design
Today, design companies such as Kazi Studios, Saedi Works, Colour and Curves and Image Ark are pushing the boundaries of graphic design in Nepal. And with more and more local and international corporations embracing designs created by local creatives, the Nepali graphic design industry is growing rapidly. While earlier the graphic design process was limited to design companies’ relying on templates and preset themes, today, creative agencies begin their process from scratch and build exceptional designs that embody the vision and working philosophy of their clients.
It’s that creative ethos that informs Saxo’s site. It’s not difficult to see how Kazi have rendered the organisation’s core philosophy through the means of visual design. The website’s homepage prominently displays various swatches of red and cyan, Saxo’s organisation colours. The site is also minimal, facilitating ease of use. It comprises only four pages and explains the core ideals of the company primarily through the use of visual information, rather than reams of text. The information is presented in two forms: For the people who want to jump directly to the desired information page, they can use the navigation bar on top of the page; and for those who want to experience the site through the swatches, the colourful squares on the homepage take you to the inner pages. Saxo wanted a design that reflected the exploratory nature of creativity: This idea is reflected in the users’ requiring to explore the tiles that have embedded in them the links to the page they want to get to. The decision behind the design was not based solely on aesthetics—the site’s architecture also fulfills the client’s need to showcase their involvement in the fabric and textile industry.
Good design comes from an in-depth understanding of a client’s ideals and philosophy, and Kazi Studios always start a new project by first internalising their client’s vision, in stark contrast to how graphic design used to be done earlier in Nepal. That’s why even premium clients like UNICEF, WWF, UNHCR and the US Embassy have started outsourcing design work to Kazi Studios, jobs that in the past would have been commissioned to international design agencies. On the strength of the work they’ve done, Kazi Studios have turned into one of the most sought-after creative agencies in Nepal.
Kazi Studios and similar creative agencies in Nepal can turn out cutting- edge work because the companies comprise teams with professionals who have undergone the requisite training and devoted themselves to design. Kazi’s Kreeti Shakya, the company’s creative director, has had ample experience in the design industry. After getting her bachelor’s degree, she spent almost ten years in Minnesota creating designs for companies like the Target Corporation and Olson Advertising.
Saedi Works, another creative agency based in Nepal, are also headed by a design student-turned-professional who has spent years refining her craft. The creative director of Saedi works, Himsheela Bharati, leads a team of designers who create products that represent the core values of their clients. Although Saedi Works are a relatively new company, they have already designed information products for clients like the Natural Resource Development Centre and JuJu Wears. Just like Kazi Studios, Saedi Works too believe in producing designs that reflect their clients’ values. These creative agencies start their design process by issuing questionnaires to their clients and spending a lot of time with them on the ideation phase of the design. Kazi Studios also conduct focus group studies with the client’s target audience to understand the design language that will resonate with the end users.
Good Design Comes From An In-Depth Understanding Of A Client’S Ideals And Philosophy
There are many issues that creative agencies have to take into account during the initial ideation phase. Sometimes clients arrive with preconceived, flawed notions of design principles, and sometimes they don’t understand the intricacies of design language. Educating clients is thus paramount in the ideation stage. Kazi Studios’s Kreeti says that she will pull up two designs (usually from the web), one horribly designed and one well designed, and she’ll ask her client to choose from between them. Almost all the time, the client will pick the one designed well, after which Kreeti explains the selected design’s philosophy. She’ll then convince her client that their product too will need to be created in a similarly well-thought-out process. Her team do work on two or more variations of designs, however—one staying true to the client’s idea and one that her team prefer. Most of the time, the clients go with her team’s choice.
Because of their in-depth understanding of creative design theory, the designers at these firms know that design, for example, actually has to be invisible. That is, the design, rather than calling attention to itself, needs to be a vehicle for carrying the client’s message to their target group. In the brochures, websites and smartphone apps designed by both Kazi Studios and Saedi Works, the design’s architecture helps guide readers through a labyrinth of information rendered visually.
The design phase starts with a simple wireframe draft of the website or print design, and after approval from the client, the firm moves on to the graphic design phase. A couple of drafts are created based on the wireframe, which are then presented to the client, who in turn approves one of them. The firm then works through considerable redesigns, after which they will work on the development phase. During the development phase, the designers use a Content Management System (CMS) and juxtapose their approved design on top of the CMS platform. CMS is used to make the website’s backend management relatively easy for the client. With easy-to-use CMS like Wordpress and Drupal, the clients can then handle their websites by themselves, even if they have limited technical understanding. Much as with a blog, adding text and images to the website is made much easier with a CMS base. After a considerable amount of coding, a beta version of the product is then delivered to the client for testing.
There Are Many Issues That Creative Agencies Have To Take Into Account During The Initial Ideation Phase
During the testing phase, the client as well as the agencies’ quality assurance teams beta test the website for bugs. Kazi Studios have their own in-house beta-testing team, whereas Saedi Works outsource their testing to close friends. After all the bugs have been ironed out, the finished product is delivered to the client. Here, the (initial) creative process ends.
But for the creative agencies, their interaction with their client does not end here. They maintain a constant stream of communication with the clients, to gain insight into their work and to tweak their product if need be. And since creative agencies haven’t been going out of their way to market themselves, their exposure to the local client base happens solely through their work. The product markets itself, say both Kazi Studios and Saedi Works. But to be able to attract new clients, they need to deliver exceptionally well-designed information products that the agency can stand by. Their portfolio is essentially their work, and through their work, they attract newer clients.
The information portals and products that INGOS, NGOS and other organisations today want need to be of the same calibre as the ones that the organisations are wont to seeing on the web. They will not settle for kitschy products of the kind that used to be produced in Nepal earlier. Luckily for them, the country now has a new breed of creative agencies who can cater to their demands.