A Kabir-inspired designer in love with information and his journey to FOLO
“Kabir is kind of an escape mechanism for me,” Aditya Dipankar told me over a couple of parathas and a piping hot tea in the lap of the Himalayas. He had given a talk on “My conversations with Kabir” at the recently concluded TEDxDharamsala and when we got talking, I came to know that he is also a designer and an entrepreneur. Aditya runs a design and music studio called FOLO which gets its name from ‘Information Love’ and the startup takes up all kinds of design projects.
The humble beginnings
Aditya was born in Delhi but brought up in Kanpur. His dad worked at a chemical company which hit some rough tides and they had to move to Mumbai. “We had a rather rough patch but things got better soon,” Aditya reminisced. After his schooling, he went ahead to study design at the NIFT and then a masters in information and interface design from NID. “Information and data always attracted me but it is painful to see all that information painfully stacked up or in an excel sheet. It can be so much more appealing and can convey a lot of meaning,” said Aditya. These are things that inclined him towards information and design.
The road to FOLO
Aditya was always thinking of ways to display information beautifully. Call it information design, interface design or graphic design, he looks at design as art. “Design as a word is a tad bit rigid, creating art is what we’re actually striving for,” says Adiya.
Before starting up FOLO, Aditya worked for several other startups as a UI designer- Pagalguy, Sunglass.io, Babajob and also at Microsoft. “I was okay working with a company,” Aditya said as he veered away into one of his situational Kabir poems and then continued, “but it is limiting in a way. Commuting, sitting in a cage sometimes, and sticking to certain things that don’t make sense. I was making the same mistake over and over again. And hence FOLO.”
Aditya found a great partner in his brother Arnav Sameer who is an engineer but joined FOLO straight out of college. A four-member company, FOLO works on multiple projects in various fields. Freecharge was the first client FOLO had, and since then, the team has worked on around 10 projects - some complete brand building exercises, some web development projects and some independent projects.
And the ramblings…
Also what is interesting is the fact that FOLO has recently shifted base to Rakkar in Dharamsala (like a few others including myself). And the FOLO website is completely coded, there is no design template involved. “I find it very beautiful. It’s like we told code to do something and it did it on its own, there was no guiding design and that was the design,” said Aditya with a smile. Both the brothers are heavily inclined towards music as well, and we had the lovely tanpuras playing in the background all the while when we were talking.
These deviations have led to some interesting work combining music and writings of the likes of Kabir, Plato, and Jiddu Krishnamurti, which will be revealed on the website soon.
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