This duo is crafting new ways of putting Indian graphic design on the global map

Culture is the key that binds designers Shiva Nallaperumal and Juhi Vishnani in their vision to create a new identity for Indian design. Through their Mumbai-based studio, November, the passionate advocates of Indian visual language have created vibrant design elements in the sphere of books, music, cinema and fashion, including an ambitious new typeface, Oli Grotesk that supports all Indian writing scripts. 

Taapsee Pannu at ELLE Graduates 2019 against the photo-booth created by November

Although they have completed their masters after design school; Vishnani having done it in London at the Chelsea College of Arts and Nallaperumal at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, both are trying to break free from formal education notions by opting for homegrown approaches. “As a teenager I was very interested in world cinema, popular punk, hip-hop music and comics. I was fascinated with the fact that someone drew all the letters used in posters and films… and I just wanted that job,” says Nallaperumal, who was also the youngest Indian recipient of the SOTA (The Society of Typographic Aficionados) Catalyst Award. When he collaborated with Vishnani in 2016, they realised that they brought two very different aspects of design to the table.


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“I’ve always been interested in large-scale projects and Shiva would go for the cultural, personal work, which made coming together feel like a natural fit,” says Vishnani. 

Posters and graphics that were designed for the theatre group, Kattiyakkari

Over the years they worked with brands like Bodice, Snapchat, Apple Music, Red Bull Music, and National Basketball Association. “I’ve been fascinated by design that happens at the intersection of cultural streams, which is why we go beyond the dogma of design being just functional,” explains Nallaperumal. “It should be intuitive and define culture while challenging current norms,” he adds. 

The identity for Kyoorius Designyatra was inspired by graphics from Indian streets

Inspired by creative geniuses like filmmaker Satyajit Ray, designers Martin Margiela, Johanna and Peter Bil’ak, both Nallaperumal and Vishnani have focussed on trying to bring different aspects of their personality into their work. “I am an extremely practical and orderly person in general; and my approach to work is the same. But as formulaic I am with things in life, I like my work to be very intuitive and natural,” says Vishnani. For Nallaperumal, its bringing plurality and humour into his work that’s of prime importance. “Uniformity, to me, is the real enemy,” he adds. 

The identity for Kyoorius Designyatra was inspired by graphics from Indian streets

The designer duo is now looking forward to the release of a new capsule collection for Nicobar and an exciting abstract photo-book they’ve designed for Tara Books. 

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