Background There are close to a hundred design schools in India. The leading one is fifty years old, and only four or five others are well have established themselves well, mostly in the last 15 years. Foreign brands have also started to enter. In this rapidly swelling field, the promoters Manisha and Harsh Gupta, an educational philanthropist couple, proposed a new, top quality design school.
The school is advised by eminent designers and educators, who approached us to brand the school. Despite months of discussions, the advisors had yet to concretise their thinking into a program and curriculum. So as an unusual rider to the project, the client requested that the branding process take on the task of facilitating these key decisions on the product itself.
Strategy and Brand Idea We started by exploring, understanding, and rationalising the advisors’ philosophy, and their conception of the gap it intended to address in the design landscape. To ensure that these views carried forward into both the brand and product, we designed an elaborate model to elicit the views of the advisors into three key boxes: the school’s intake, educational processes and the impact it hoped to make with their output (students, research, projects), each with sub-components to help define the school’s program.
Over six sessions, its essence emerged. To re-focus design education on its proper role in society, the school needed to be a centre of design thinking, to tackle real-world issues through design methods, to oppose the superficial, vocational orientation of the mainstream school. To signal this, we led the school to consider starting with a master’s program, to lead intermediate-level designers to mastery, or a higher level of awareness and competence.
The brand idea is located in the school’s agenda for an approach to design. Called ‘integral design’, it naturally became the name of the school. The brand document defines Integral Design in terms the new skills and mindsets that society asks of the design profession. It trains students to keep the larger picture in view, to appreciate the complex interactions of society, economy and technology, and then intervene creatively to make better situations.
Design The design is inspired by the internal exhortation to continually ‘reframe’ problems in valuable ways. The symbol and the ‘reframe’ design language explores this idea to create an uncompromisingly intellectual but lively and flexible personality, determined to critically rethink the obvious; to reject artificial sensuality in favour of searching for systemic interventions that go to the crux of any problem.
Impact The school’s program and curriculum was guided effectively by the output of our sessions, which were recorded on video as training material. The design language was effectively understood and implemented by the school,to own a distinctive voice in print and social media.