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DESI—GNED

Launching New England’s first publication for the South Asian diaspora to reimagine the transmission of cultural heritage. 




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Born at ︎︎︎ Brown University and ︎︎︎Rhode Island School of Design, desi-gned focuses on South Asian culture, design, and art, to bring untold stories from the subcontinent in the context of living in the colonial world here in the northeast.

This work is a collaboration across time and space— it builds on the knowledge that has been passed down in South Asia for generations—and is a product of the entire South Asian community on our campuses.


Read / Download “desi—gned” on the Internet Archive ︎︎︎

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“This publication is an excellent example of what can be accomplished by students working together with advisors and faculty to create a professional and well-researched publication that is a model for future endeavors.”

— Doug Scott

Senior Critic, Rhode Island School of Design
Senior Critic, Yale University School of Art



︎︎︎
Brown, RISD students launch New England’s first publication for South Asian diaspora

︎︎︎@risd1877 “desi-gned” Spotlight

︎︎︎@crystalannwilliams “desi-gned” Spotlight



desi-gned centers native terminology—as a movement in the reclamation of the histories, traditions, and identities that have endured generations of erasure.

desi-gned
acts on reviving print—and consider the contribution of physical knowledge archives in the persistence of information and memory in human spaces.

desi-gned
subverts conventional methods of knowledge transmission—by providing more accessible, equitable, and sustainable means for knowing while promoting research on art and design spaces that live outside of the West.




THE BRAND AND VISUAL IDENTITY—


The publication’s visual identity was developed with the designer to ensure it was rooted in South Asia’s rich cultural heritage while embodying a contemporary look to contextualize the collegiate spaces from which this work was developed.



MEANING THROUGH MODULARITY: The Motif
The pattern is a marriage of the traditions of kolam (floor murals made using rice powder) from the South and jali (Arabic-inspired stone curtains that are carved into arches and windows) from the North— the two most dominant aesthetic cultures from South Asia that comprise a multitude of sub-cultures and identities. It was used within section dividers in the publication, and throughout promotional materials and signage.





LEXICONS OF LANGUAGE: The Logotype
The logotype maintains the minimalist and contemporary look of the publication through the use of a consistent typeface. The variations, such as the use of the shirorekha (the upper horizontal line that joins composite characters), allude to the ornate aspects of the Devanagari script (which is widely used in South Asian languages).  


GRAFTING THROUGH GEOGRAPHY: The Graphic
The use of eight different stamps, one from each of the eight South Asian countries, was used consistently to develop a brand identity. The chosen stamps represent all the different aspects of South Asia’s design culture, from architecture and painting to flora and fauna. This graphic was used to provide a bold, yet fun visual identity to the publication—dismantling ideas of elitism and sombreness associated with academic dossiers.



BRAND COLLATERAL—


The branding and marketing assets were used to ensure that the publication was easily and widely recognizable to people around Brown and RISD’s communities. With wide circulation, there was success in developing recognizability around campus and even globally.











“ Through centuries of migration, co-habitation, and innovation, South Asia became a melting pot of cultures and peoples.

Now, I bring to you desi–gned: a hand-selected compendium of ingenious craftsmanship, subaltern histories, and current contemplations, of untold stories that need to be shared. ”









LAUNCHING DESI—GNED — 


The magazine was launched at RISD Museum, with over 200 people.  The museum intervention in the European galleries critiqued the colonial origins of bases of knowledge in line with the central message of desi—gned



This event was a space for students to connect with artists, faculty, and staff in the areas of South Asian studies, as we celebrated with drinks, charcuterie, and live classical and contemporary South Asian music.
 

Our response was to conduct a museum label intervention: “(Re)Painting Histories”

“(Re)Painting Histories” attempted to problematize and acknowledge the realities of cultural exchange, and sometimes even erasure, evident in the production of the works on view in this gallery. From Rembrandt's Mughal influences to the South Asian origins of the color yellow, we worked to curate a journey through the RISD Museum's collection far beyond what is exhibited on the walls of the Grand Gallery.






PROJECT  DETAILS


Team:
Yukti V. Agarwal, Mehek Vohra, Siddharth Thuppil, Malini Narayan, Pradyumna Sapre

Timeline:
100 weeks (2021 -  2023)

Tools:
G-Suite, Adobe InDesign

Co-Sponsors:

Rhode Island School of Design: Center for Student Involvement, The Fleet Library, Arts and Language Center

Brown University: The College, Undergraduate Research, Simmons Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice, Brown Center for Students of Color, Saxena Center for Contemporary South Asia, Brown RISD Hillel, Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship, History of Art and Architecture, Brown Arts Initiative, Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women

Library Collections:
Providence Public Library, John Hay Library, John Carter Brown Library, Rockefeller Library, Thomas J. Watson Library at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Providence Athenaeum, RISD Museum Library, The Fleet Library at RISD, Pembroke Center for Study of Women and Gender

Launched at:
Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design

Printing:
400 copies printed and freely distributed 

Publisher: GHP Media, Inc., West Haven

Paper Quality: Accent Opaque 70# Vellum
Size: 7.65 in x 9.9 in
Ink: 4/C Throughout
Binding: PUR Perfect Bound

Skills:
Team Management, Content Creation and Curation, Creative Direction, Editorial and Print Design, Print and Publishing, Community Outreach, Strategic Partnerships, Fundraising, Circulation and Distribution, Event Planning



Reflection:
It is fruitful to persevere—no matter the adversity.
More than anything, this project taught me the importance of persevering in the face of adversity and failure. Over the two years I spent on this, I learned more than I could have ever imagined.

Marketing is a vital part of each project. 
Marketing, advertising, and lobbying are just as important, if not more, to catalyze change and instigate more people to participate in making change.

It is important to lead with kindness and empathy.
As one of the largest projects I have managed, it was an endearing project to take the lead on. I learned a great deal about how to work around the hectic schedules of college students and create attainable goals for all team members.




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YUKTI V. AGARWAL


As a multidisciplinary thinker, my work aims to reimagine societies and futures through engaged research and purposeful design and innovation. 

︎︎︎ About


Brown | RISD Dual Degree Program

Majors 3 
    Textile Design  
    Psychology   
    Mindfulness Studies

Minor 1
    Art and Design History





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Current Work:
Brown + RISD Honors Thesis

How can the multisensorial design of public space facilitate moments of implicit mindfulness in momentary experiences—to develop more dispositionally mindful communities?