July 29, 2014

Discover India series by Ranganath Krishnamani

By Anusha Narayanan

Hanging on the fridge door of my recently foreign-returned relatives are magnets, and arranged neatly in their showcase are crystal balls, carved candles, framed postcards, all of which serve as reminders of travels, family trips and vacations. I wondered what else, other than the carved marble miniatures of Taj Mahal and the studded Jaipuri elephant key chains, would one find in the souvenir shops outside Indian monuments?

In India, souvenirs are usually the forte of local craftsmen and artisans, but somewhere along the way, they seem to have lost their charm and authenticity. Indian souvenirs, rather than being examples of authentic local crafts, have become generic replicas of what tourists buy, copies of tried formulae. These might sell profitably on the Old Mahabalipuram Road, or in bazaars outside Amber Fort and the Taj Mahal, but are quite irrelevant in perhaps Mysore, Mumbai or Hyderabad, unrelated to their local culture and history.



Bringing some thought and meaning to designing souvenirs for the rich cultural narratives of Indian cities is the Discover India series by Ranganath Krishnamani. The idea occurred to Ranganath, a senior experience designer with Adobe India and a covert illustrator, upon several visits to historical precincts like Hampi, Mysore and Delhi. He realized that instead of being celebrated visually, these sites lay rather mute behind pervasive boards, signage and advertisements on the way leading to the monuments. Nor were the souvenirs as intricate, that he could pick them up as collectibles from his travels. Quite a saddening state.

It pushed him to develop a series of posters that would help people understand the context of each place, revealing their spirit in the process. He picked out the places which fascinated him, starting with the heritage sites of Karnataka and began by reading up on anything related to each site, from art  to culture, society, the city, current conditions and even the aesthetics, pinning photographs, scribbling notes and doodling alongside, creating a mood board to help develop the design.

Sketch_4 Sketch_5

Sharing his process, Ranganath says, “I use a lot of penned sketches/ photographs that I usually prefer making at the location. I first create rough drawings to explore the composition, play of light and shadow, light source etc.” In the final outcome, it is visible that each vector is meticulous and each poster depicts the essence of each site. “Custom brush scripts have always fascinated me, and through this series I have strived to experiment with type to give each monument a unique identity and personality”, explains Ranaganath, for his choice of typography, “The color palette plays a very important aspect in setting the mood in my illustrations. I try to restrict the palette to not more than 3 -4 colors.”


We asked him if this series was going to have a sequel, to which he responds “This series for me is always going to be a work in progress since there are many more inspiring locations that I wish to add to this series. But I am also working on the next set of posters, which will exclusively cover the popular heritage sites in Hampi.” As he digs deeper, we wait for his next set of discoveries in India.

The series of travel posters and postcards are also in-book winners and one of the Blue Elephant nominee at the at the 2014 Kyoorius Design Awards. Winners will be announced on 13th September at Kyoorius Designyatra 2014 in Goa. To learn more about the awards party, click here.

Take a look at the rest of the winners here.

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