Based in New Delhi, a young design studio, aims at raising the bar of design in India. Operating since 2007, Design Bar Inc. believes that the best and most innovative work happens when working with a small focused group of creative people. Whether you're a new company just starting out or an established business looking to revitalize your brand, DBar Inc. can help you sharpen your message, refine your image, and ultimately connect with customers!In conversation with Abhilasha Dafria for YourStory.in, founder Shahna Garg tells us how.
Tell us in detail about Design Bar. Inc.
DBar Inc. is an independent design consultancy based out of New Delhi. We specialize in creative branding solutions like visual identities, corporate brand communication, marketing and promotions, editorial design, packaging, new media, websites and events.
As founder and creative lead for the team, I am always in search for the type of design projects that we would truly enjoy working on. We like to immerse ourselves in the process – to ideate, analyze, interpret, translate and invent new techniques and combinations to find the most effective, clear and interesting solutions to clients’ creative needs.
What are the services you provide?
Corporate & Visual Identities, Corporate Communication, Marketing & Promotional Collateral, Editorial Design, Web Design, Packaging, Restaurant Graphics, Coffee Table Books, Invites, Event Graphics. Basically, any design project that appeals to us!
Could you tell us how DBar Inc. plays a role in the branding space?
As a migrant from the New York design culture to India, I felt a huge gap in the approach to branding, communication and design in general. Very few boutique studios approached this field of work with an understanding of all the elements of design from type to color to visual aesthetic. Larger advertising companies were handling the complex branding work where the majority of the focus was on big budget advertising sector and branding got little or no focus from the senior talent in the agencies. Barring a few, most design studios worked in isolation from all the amazing work happening internationally and hired within the same creative pool with similar backgrounds so the scope of work produced remained limited.
We felt that the Indian markets needed a change – smaller agencies should focus on the intricacies of design and visual communication – type, color, aesthetic, balance and international brand talent without all the layers of the complex agency models. So we based our model on that.
Could you tell us a little about your market size? How much revenue do you get from the international market?
The Indian market is expanding where branding is concerned. We do cater to a niche market in India. About 50% of our revenue comes from international clients.
Throws us some light on the projects you have accomplished. What has your clientele been so far?
Over the last 4 years we have built up a very appreciative client base, both Indian and international. We work with international clients like PR agency: Per Aquum (Singapore), Five Star Luxury Resort: Niyama(Maldives), Real Estate: The Montag Group (UK), Celebrity Facialist: Anastasia Achileos of The Method Spa (U.K), Buttercream Cupcakes (US), New York Broadway Theatre Group : Broadway Abroad (of the 14yrs running broadway show ‘Rent’ fame) and many more.
In India, we have worked with clients from all sectors – hospitality, which is our favorite to Ayurveda Kendra, The Heritage Motoring Club of India, Titus & Co., Modern School, Modutech, Hachette, with artists like Shruti Gupta Chandra and many more.
What is your upcoming event?
We’ve been invited to participate the 20under35 exhibition showcasing the work of 20 Emerging Designers under 35(yrs) being organized by Design x Design at the Gallery Romain Rolland, Alliance Francaise. The exhibition will be on display from 21st December to 4th Jan 2012.
So how did you come up with this idea and what is your background like?
After school, I explored options to study design and found very few. Even the few that were around, came with limitations. To eventually choose design as a profession for life, I wanted to invest in a good education. I chose to do a Masters in Communication Design from Pratt University in New York. That was probably the best decision of my life. The 2.5 year program not only helped me intensify my love for design but helped me develop my own unique style/aesthetic. The overall experience of living in the design hub of the world – New York changed my perceptions and opened a new fascinating world and thought process for me.
I eventually moved back to India for the immense potential for design and creative exploration that India offered. Thus, I started DBar Inc. with a focus on working for an elite group of clients who are looking for the off-beat creative solutions.
We started DBar Inc. in 2007. It was a slow start. We worked nights and weekends for quite some time, hoping our mad obsession for design would pay off. And it is, slowly. God has blessed us in this crazy dream of ours, business is growing and the adventure continues …
What were the challenges you faced in this line of branding and designs?Initially finding clients looking for unique solutions and being open to a new thought, a new communication style was the greatest hurdle. Besides, another challenge was to completely understand the nitty-gritty’s of business. As an enterpreneur, I know my job as a designer but learning the ropes of business was a challenge. Handling clients, people management, hiring, firing, payments, taxes, invoicing and many other new things had to be learned. Finding a good team skilled in communication design, was also a challenge, since none of the schools in India offer that specialization.
How big is your team? Are you looking at hiring?
Our team comprises of 7-10 people including freelancers. We do all design in-house but work with a network of copywriters and production specialists. We’re always looking to hire and working towards finding the right team in-house.
Did you raise funds to startup? If not, are you looking at getting funded now?
We started small so we didn’t have to fund raise to start up. But over the next few years we are looking at expanding to another city in India and the US due to the demand of work internationally.
For many of our future goals though, we would love to get funding and partnerships. Our first goal is to start a design school that specializes in Design Communication. I believe there’s a huge need and potential for this breed of design professionals in India. Our second goal is to promote the Webby Awards and contribute towards building a strong, internally recognized digital community in India. The potential of the digital medium is huge. We would like to work towards our own Internet Week (based on the New York Internet Week, http://www.internetweekny.com/). A festival that would offer numerous web-focused events that raises the profile of India’s interactive and digital industry as a whole, as well as the partners who participate.
Are there other players in the market doing similar things? What is your USP?
There are a number of design studios in Delhi now. Our USP is that we love design. We love the process with all its intricacies. So all our work comes from a deep passion and understanding of design and each project is a unique exploration for us.
We believe in a modernist ideal that design is a problem-solving discipline and try to humanize that ideal through humor, artistic invention, and an entrepreneurial spirit.
We believe that ‘Design isn’t something we do, it’s a lifestyle.’
How do you see yourself going about this? Making it bigger?
Like they say - ‘There’s no telling how many miles you will have to run chasing your dream!’
We are on our journey with dreams galore.
Bigger projects, selective clientele, projects we love … design, diversify, teach, explore and follow our bliss.
Finally please tell us how was your experience with YCE?
YCE was an amazing experience. It was the only platform that allowed me to connect and interact with the design community. An insight to what the other professionals were doing. The acknowledgement of our work was not only encouraging, but also helped those of us who were chosen to go out and communicate with our peers. YCE is like a voice for the entrepreneurs, an encouragement for going the extra mile, an honour.
I'd love to be involved and participate more with the British Council and the YCE, to interact and to define a direction for our fields!
For more information please check out Design Bar Inc. and do share your thoughts by leaving a comment here!
This article is a part of the British Council’s Young Creative Entrepreneurs Series. To know more about the Young Design Entrepreneur Awards, click here. Follow the Young Creative Entrepreneur Awards (YCE) on Facebook.
- Abhilasha Dafria