Chaiti Mehta, founder of Chaiti Mehta Design (CMD) in 2009, discovered herself in the world of design when she began communicating a message both visually and conceptually. Calling herself as purely a designer, she creates forms and patterns out of brands, our of love, out of passion.
Her work spans brand identity and development, art direction, packaging, printed matter, interactive, art-projects and exhibitions. With her clientele in India, New York, London, and Dubai, she works closely and collaboratively with them who want their brands to speak. She allows a direct thought-process, approaching design holistically.
Her work has been awarded and published by curated design publication; Book of the Year, Volume Four (Praquin, France), Asia Pacific Design No. 7 (Sandu Cultural Media Co.,Ltd. Hongkong/Guangzhou/Beijing and Design 360°- Concept and Design Magazine). Featured on the front cover of India’s noted design magazine, The Kyoorius Design Magazine 7 and The Kyoorius Design Showcase 2011-12.
Why are you a Graphic Designer?
I usually stumble at being called a Graphic Designer and come up with all sorts of complicated explanations and words. I’m purely a designer. One who can define a color, a type and a form. The kind of graphic design majority of people relate to is not only about brochures, catalogs, logos and all of that. It’s about a Process. It’s how it works. Knowing the real power of holistic design and experiencing its maximum. In short every piece needs to have an Understanding of Design, a perception and experimentation. Hence I chose this path.
Did you attend school for fine art or design?
Attended a four year intensive training in a design school at Rachana Sansad College of Applied Art & Crafts, Mumbai brought in basic fundamentals of Design and prepares one to pursue that path. What I gathered learning in design school are the basic concepts like rhythm and balance. The education gave me a direction and opened several avenues. Education is useful. Training and practice is more important.
You have a distinct style of Design. How long did it take you to develop your style?
I don’t think I try coming up with a style but come up with something that has a logic underneath it. I take myself into a whole new experience everytime I think of something. If you see my work, it’s always emerging into different interests. I don’t draw from any inspiration, influence or reference material. It’s the thought of creating something unique and identifiable. I have a very strong kind of look, and what people see is a reflection of myself, my own personality and I simply love what I do.
Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
I’m still young, still evolving in my career. There are yet lot of people I would like to work with or rather say collaborate with. But there’s one person who has opened my eye and showed me the true world of design is Salil Awchat, art director of Awchat & Olsen Design. A hard-core design experience and freedom to work on projects giving it everything that I could create, it’s rare to find a mentor like him. I hope he agrees.
Who was the most influential personality on your career in graphic design?
Where I stand today, I owe it to Salil Awchat, art-director of Awchat & Olsen Design, an award winning design studio based in Mumbai and Oslo. I have worked under him for two and a half years when I just graduated and was difficult for a fresher to jump into a graphic design studio with zero experience. A few were confused, some got married, majority entered the big world of Advertising. I was sure that it’s got to be design and I was stubborn at it. A&O opened many avenues. As a designer, I was exposed to all stages of the design process from pitching to finished artwork and print production. Their belief in me started growing, solidifying and together I delved into my work as if nothing ever mattered more than this.
When did you start freelancing?
June 2009, I took the plunge to create my own individuality. Life has meaning only in the struggle. It’s been over two years and still evolving.
Was there any time when you wanted to quit graphic design?
Design is what I love to do. To keep practicing and do good work in a meaningful way. I am constantly trying to open myself to explore design in different perspectives. There’s always a desire to keep getting better but it only comes through practice, practice and practice!
Are many advertising agencies hiring graphic designers? Do you work more with agencies or clients/publishers?
A lot of agencies need graphic designers. But I work wholly with individual clients who want their brands to speak.
Do you have clients who give you steady work or do you advertise for new clients often?
My clients come to me. My relationship with my clients has been so far long-term. There is a commitment that I add to their work that makes them come back with larger and more creative opportunities. It’s all a process.
Any other Indian graphic designers who you admire?
Miti Desai, Ishan Khosla, Alok Nanda, Tania Singh Khosla, Sameer Kulavoor, Lokesh Kareker are the very few whose work I admire. They are exceptional and hence do very different and unique work. It’s logical and level-headed.
Recently met Manjiri Rajopadhye over a chat. There is so much to learn from her. A true designer, she has mastered her skill and is so true to herself which reflects in her work. I had taken a class with Miti Desai, a very remarkable course on design. It was an experience of a lifetime. She’s an incredible lady, so Indian, so real. A designer & dancer, her aim is at encouraging the students to feel and experience design, to achieve both professional and personal goals. Every second was worth it.
Some other design contemporaries whose work you admire?
Shigeru Ban – his approach is methodical, unorthodox and ingeniously pragmatic.
Subhash Awchat – he builds a beautiful relationship with himself and the canvas. Sabir Khan – acclaimed sarangi maestro. Heard him at The Dewarists show and his music just flows around the groove so meticulously.
What advice do you have for aspiring creative professionals? Would you advise them to take on graphic design as a career option?
Practice, practice and practice! If you don’t go all out, how would you succeed?
There are tons of talented artists and these are the ones who apply real talent, dedication and put their soul into their work. Be passionate. Love what you do. Create something crazy. There are no boundaries in design! Be approachable, stand out from the crowd and don’t be complacent. The passionate innovating ones, yes this would a great career. You need to be a skilled ‘looker’. Struggle is the core part here, and laziness definitely doesn’t take you anywhere. Having an early design exposure makes one aware of the design profession to transform analytical materials to visual ideas. A graduation design program shows depth in the process of design. Design can be a long term career choice since it completes
personal interest as well as earning a living and exploring yourself.
Do you think Clients are opening up to keeping aside a decent respectable budget for design work?
Do you think clients are understanding that they need to invest in Design as a communication tool and also to cut the clutter, and that good design comes at a price?
Most of my clients, yes. Awareness and realisation has made a lot of my clients set up a budget for design work and hence it opens our creative minds to think differently.
Whats your dream project?
Brand a luxury hotel.
Who would you like to take out for dinner?
Let’s keep this personal!
What’s on your iPod?
Mac or PC?