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  • Writer's pictureWomen In Design

Anar Shukla

Monthly Feature // March 2021

Anar is a patchwork quilt of experiences ranging from documentary filmmaking, to radio programming and conceptualizing at CAB gave Anar an unmatched insight into the art of creating narratives.

Anar is a patchwork quilt of experiences ranging from documentary filmmaking, to radio programming and conceptualizing at CAB gave Anar an unmatched insight into the art of creating narratives. This coupled with an eye for great design and incredible resourcefulness makes her the backbone, mind, heart and soul of Roz.

She is a multi-talented designer who has experience in diverse fields of design and communication. She has worked on documentaries, in radio, design education and has worked with global brands like Google, Facebook and Lexus. Anar has studied fine arts and applied arts specialising in typography and outdoor design. Her journey in the creative field is one of maximem exploration and experimentation. "After 10th grade, I went on to study a diploma for 5 years. While I was studying, I realised my love for audio and video. I decided to pursue a career in advertising because that was an obvious extension of all the things I loved about design."

On Past Work Experiences

In early 2000, When Radio Mirchi was launching in India, Anar had the opportunity to audition when a friend suggested she give it a shot! “I gave the audition and they really liked my voice, my personality, and my conversational skills. I became an RJ. But during my time as an RJ, I realized that I really missed Visual design and storytelling. So I decided to pursue my masters at Griffith university and moved to Brisbane.” At Griffith, Anar had a very hands-on experience studying film, UI and so much more. “I returned to India in 2006 and started working in an education research company based in Ahmedabad. Here, I had the opportunity to produce a documentary on student misconceptions. This project was funded by Wipro and we collected data from across 120 schools in India with over 100 hours of footage to work with.” Sounds like an incredible experience!

Anar also mentions the advantage of having a wide range of capabilities. She said, “The good thing about having many skills is that you can keep switching careers. I went back to radio for about 2 years and I was taking care of 7-8 different radio stations as a programming head, out of different cities. I was traveling a lot and I loved it.” After 2 years, She began to miss design again and moved back to Ahmedabad for a break. During her break, she discovered her love for teaching, “The 2 things about design I love — I love teaching design and working in design. I started teaching design at Banasthali Institute in Jaipur and also started teaching at WIC in Bombay. This is when I met my current partners at my last organization, CAB.” During that period, CAB was looking for a visual writer. “I joined the team, they liked my experience, the fact that I had worked on a lot of different projects. And because my background was so diverse, the perspective I could provide was unique. After this, exhibition design happened! I'm very fortunate that I got to work with some global brands like Google, Audi, and Facebook. I've been a part of many brand launches in the last couple of years. We've also launched Lexus India and we started Lexus Design awards after bringing the brand to India. Working with the company for 8 years, I discovered my love for product design. I have always loved product design — to have nice, beautiful, and curated products that were created by Indian Artists. This is why we launched Roz last year and Roz is looking at changing the experience of branded goods in India. Because we feel that, gone are the days when people get excited about a diary they received after attending an event. We had the opportunity to collaborate with some talented artists and brands to create meaningful products that tell great stories. At Roz, everyday is different, hence the name Roz.”

On Facing Challenges and Design Education

“The first challenge I faced as a young person looking for a career in design, was the financial strain. I got into the London school of design and there was no way I could've afforded to go study there. I think I was in my 2nd or 3rd year of studying my diploma and I remember attending an educational fair. I met a representative from the London school of design, they went through my portfolio and told me I should come study there. When I learned about the exorbitant fees, I decided to wait until I finished my current course. Later, I found the same course in Australia which was way more affordable. Even-though I waited a while to go, It was worth it, because it gave me a lot of hands on experience.” This is true for many of us looking to study a course or Masters in Design. The large sum of money in tuition fees and for quality equipment and supplies adds up to be an amount most people simply cannot afford. Anar added, “Even for students wanting to study design today, the courses are very expensive. Because it’s not just sitting in a classroom and studying. You need to buy a lot of material, you have to be very invested. As a student in Australia, I couldn’t get a part-time job for my expenses because I needed to put in the hours at the University. It is a very demanding career. Finances are a big challenge.”

Since Anar spent some quality time as an Educator, we were curious about her take on Design Education and What it’s missing. She said, “The education system in India doesn't focus on the hands-on reality and I face these issues even with the people I hire today. I realise that while they know the process they don't really know the application for a brand. In India, we really need to work on design thinking and its applications in real life. I think this is what institutions need to emphasise. Design thinking is not just about materials anymore, it’s about mediums. As a creative, you need to know how content can transform into UI, print media, products, and even a magazine article. Design used to be very simple, but it's very layered today.” Put on your design thinking hats and work on widening your experience in mediums.

Anar also couldn’t stress enough about the power of collaboration, “Everyone is connected. There are so many platforms that help people brainstorm. You also have different kinds of people that you can get on board for projects. I love what Ideo does — they always put their problems out in the open. If the design community became more open, we can have formal ways of collaboration and the possibilities are endless. You have to be able to work with all kinds of creatives. But the culture of collaboration needs to start at the student level itself. Collaborations are the way to go for efficient problem-solving.”

On Process and Diversity in Skill

“At Roz, there are 2 principles that we have - Anything we design needs to be high on utility on an everyday/regular basis. So that you aren't just creating a piece of art but a well-designed product. And if that product is used regularly then it translates to great brand recall and a great brand story. The second is pretty much in line with the brand story. These are the 2 principles we embody in our design practices. For example, We're designing for google and we are people who believe that tech empowers people, it could be something as simple as a cube that has hand-painted QR codes but it communicates exactly what the brand is. We try to play with brand and utility and marry them in a great way to tell the story of the brand instead of just printing a logo on something.” We do believe in objects having a great impact on our daily lives and instead of having many objects that fade away in the background of our lives, Utilitarian products are the way forward. One meaningful product, instead of many useless products!

Anar’s personal approach to the design process is influenced by her layered experience in different mediums. She said, “It’s crazy when we're doing brainstorming sessions, my colleagues tell me to slow down because I'm thinking across multiple mediums. When you can see a story and you can interpret it in many ways, it’s great in today's world of design, but I realized this 8 years ago when I started working in events — any idea needed this. It’s great because it's interactive and it’s a huge curse that eventually turns out to be a blessing.”

What's next for you?

“We have a 5 year plan for Roz and we have a couple of milestones to hit. The next step is to create Roz Products. Taking classic things, Like a classic white tee or a tote and try to see how to make fun, utilitarian and interactive. Step 2 is to collaborate with artists all over the country. Step 3 is to have these products in stores and eventually have a store of our own. Like a cafe/lifestyle store.”

Takeaways for upcoming creatives?

“The canvas is so huge and in a way, I always believed that a designer needs to be a jack of all trades rather than a master of one because you don’t know when you need to graduate from one form of design to another. Or you need to use different forms of design for a solution. But it would be lovely for you to be curious enough to experiment and be open to experimenting all your life — learning all your life. Be fearless about trying new things.”

A little more about Anar

Name 3 other inspirational Indian creatives that you look up to

Sonica (Fashion Designer), Anjanakshi (Furniture design), Podcasts and Indian Musicians (Not anything specific)

What is your favorite art movement?

The Street art movement in India.

What are you reading currently?

The wisdom of the Psychopaths - Dr. Kevin Dutton

Thoughts on comic sans?

Suicide, I think. It's not even bad design - I don’t know what to call it.

We're always open to other perspectives, opinions and a good chat over some coffee or tea. We'd love to host a conversation with you, head on over to our Discord and get in touch!

With 🧡 Team WID.


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