The Amar, Anthony and Ashdeen of Design

Amardeep Behl, Exhibition Designer, National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, graduated in 1985, is presently the owner of Design Habit. He has been designing immersive, experiential, entertaining, educational storytelling spaces, specialising in Museums, since his college days.

His Diploma Project from NID in 1985 was guided by none other than one of India’s most important communication designers, Vikas Satwalekar. This project required Amar to design the STC exhibition at 1984 India International Trade Fair. In 4 months, Amar had to research, design and fabricate the entire exhibition! He remembers how the exhibition opening tragically coincided with the communal riots in Delhi. Realities that are never accounted for in a creative process but could be life threatening.

Amar, as he is lovingly addressed by everyone, is known for his calm demeanour. Many design and architecture students have, since decades, been associated with Design Habit’s projects – which include years of exhibition and pavilion design for Trade Fairs amongst others. If you haven’t yet, do visit the Chinmaya Mission and Nirankari Museums, Delhi, the Sadhu Vasvani Museum at Pune to name just a few of their projects. Virasat-e-Khalsa Museum, Anandpur Sahib, remains one of Design Habit’s biggest projects. It is one of the first narrative Museums ever in India – definitely the only one of this scale. Amar finds it fascinating that within a few years of its opening nearly a crore people have visited it, he knows of people who have visited it 20 times already!

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Meeting Amar after nearly 15 years! Thanks Akshaj ๐Ÿ™‚

The combined power of intensive research, effective storytelling, good design and perfect execution makes Design Habit one of the leading design firms in India. It is one of the few Museum and Exhibition design firms that still believes in macro and micro level research and does not design without a concrete foundation on content. Which is how nearly 15 years back I joined them ๐Ÿ™‚ As a research consultant for the National Museum Modernisation Plan for which I worked with Jasjit Singh, Designer, and Ching, Architect. It took us months of site visit and brainstorming sessions to formulate ‘the Plan’ in 2005. Sadly, the National Museum is yet to be modernised as no one really cares for it even now!!! Forget our hard work for the Plan ๐Ÿ˜ฆ We had also started working on the modernisation plan of the Swaraj Bhavan Museum, Allahabad, but that also remained WIP.

Design Habit also has undertaken production designs for films like ‘Samsara’, ‘Shadows of Time’, ‘The Partition’ and the to-be-released ‘Pal Pal Dil ke Paas’.

Presently, Akshaj Kilewala from NID, Vijayawada, is completing his Diploma Project with Design Habit by designing some galleries for the forthcoming Birsa Munda Museum at Ranchi, Jharkhand. Some traditions are best continued ๐Ÿ™‚ glad to have been a part of this journey.

Follow DesignHabit on: http://designhabit.co/


Lopez Design is a collaborative studio established in 1997 by Anthony Lopez, Visual Communication Designer from NID. Now located in Gurugram (Gurgaon), Lopez Design offers design solutions for a range of challenges, from corporate branding and identity to way finding and signage to environment branding to UI & UX experiences. You can read in detail on their fascinating website: http://www.lopezdesign.com/about

I have known Anthony and his team from my Delhi stint of 15 years back where I had edited some of their UNDP project reports. But more recently from having worked with Anthony and his team for the Bihar Museum, where I was consulting for Lord Cultural Resources who were consulting the Bihar government for the Museum ๐Ÿ™‚ Lopez Design created the entire identity for the Bihar Museum which included their logo, website, social media, and a range of print media (like posters/brochures/tickets) apart from their way-finding and signage system. Believe it, working with such an ambitious Museum project of a state government is not an easy feat. You have to see their work to believe the intense dedication with which they function. They have explained the entire story of this project in great detail on: http://www.lopezdesign.com/project/bihar-museum

For the Partner’s Forum of 2018, they integrated the project with Pipli craftspeople from Orissa. http://www.lopezdesign.com/project/partners-forum-2

Both the Bihar Museum identity and the Partner’s Forum projects won Lopez Design several Design awards, just some of the accolades they have collected in their voyage. Apart from designing, they also organise the Lopez Design Forum.

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Find the genius in the wall ๐Ÿ™‚

Anthony’s philosophy is โ€œThe why of what we do is more important than what we doโ€ – which is why at Lopez Design, they encourage to unleash the genius within each individual, one has to seek it.


Ashdeen Lilaowala has just completed three successful exhibitions: Japan, Kolkata and Chennai. He’s on a roll, his exquisite work is immensely loved and respected. He has become synonymous with the unique Persian tradition of hand embroidery, popular as the ‘Parsi Gara’.

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Ashdeen with his rainbow saris โค

A Textile Design graduate from NID, Ashdeen intimately worked with the Parsi Parzor project since its inception: https://unescoparzor.com/the-project/textiles-and-embroidery/textiles-and-embroidery/ This research has been published as ‘Threads of Continuity’ with Ashdeen as co author.

During his years of research, Ashdeen realised that the intricate embroidery for Gara work by the Parsi community in India was facing extinction. He has actually not only saved this tradition, a synthesis of Parsi, Chinese and Indian cultural identities, from extinction but also given it a very contemporary essence.

From wedding gowns and ensembles, to saris, purses, footwear, stoles (including pashima ones), the ‘Ashdeen’ store at Defence Colony has it all. Ashdeen’s most popular motif – the flying stork – welcomes you into the store and you will get transported into a 200 year old Gara time zone heart emoji

Follow Ashdeen on social media and the website for the latest news: https://ashdeen.com/gara-collection/


All the three designers Amar, Anthony and Ashdeen are also exceptional educators and have inspired many. Their humility, sincerity, team spirit, leadership qualities, and eagerness to learn and share their knowledge have been instrumental in establishing their position in the design community.


 

All photos taken by the author at Delhi in September 2019.

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