What could identity beyond the Modernist paradigms look like?

Identity Design for the Aab Biennium

Graduation Project
B.Des 2016
Graphic Design

student portfolio︎︎︎

The Aab Biennium is a trans-disciplinary, research-based, international festival focused on water and its climatic co-agents, activating the city of Chandigarh and its surrounding regions from 2020 to 2022. Under the guidance of November Design Studio, Maharashtra, the brief was to create a plural identity that went beyond the modernist notions of visual design. This entity needed a visual identity that was both strong and consistent, as well as fluid and dynamic for its various interventions.

The project began with the pretext that branding today is blinded by the need to make finite solutions. We started this project with the notion that one must change the traditional role of graphic design and create an identity that was open, inclusive, imaginative and reflected the urgency and legitimacy of Aab’s concerns. Another factor was the format of the Biennium. It ran continuously for two years, thus breaking the need for a spectacle. The visual system needed to be plural and consistent, but not monotonous. I understood that for Aab, the visual language needed to grow, mutate and be informed by a larger ideology that would have to be clearly defined by the creation of values for the entity.

My design education comes from European schools of thought. I had spent my time in awe of traditional graphic design studios and their modernist projects. I saw designers as ‘saviours’; solving problems and creating culture. Along my journey, I learnt that culture does not form in a vacuum, and design is a small part of a larger cultural space. Understanding the other things that occupy this space is imperative. During this project, I was pushed to question whether these values hold true in this context as I found that simple modernist solutions rarely worked for a country as plural and diverse as India. I was urged to design “contrary to design thinking”; to not make something that is simple and easy but one that is complex and engaging. There was a lot that I did not know and I struggled with learning new things fast and applying them in the project.

As a design student, I had always loved the design process; I put it on a pedestal as the sole criterion for judging a project. Through this project, I learned that the process has no meaning if the final product does not deliver. There is also no guarantee that if one follows ‘the process’,the end result is good. Over this year, I learned to respect two other aspects that I have often ignored: intuition and experience.


  • Conversations with Shiva Nallaperumal and Juhi Vishnani
  • Murky Waters
  • City of Chandigarh and the works of Le Corbusier
  • Nek Chand, Karel Martens, Metahaven