Dear Delhi, There's Something Wrong With You
TYPOGRAPHY • ACADEMIC • 2021
This project explored social injustices faced by Northeastern migrants in New Delhi and attempted to use typography to encourage reflection, respect & self-awareness between the clashing communities.
6 weeks long
Pathway @ Indian Institute of Art & Design.
Research (Primary & Secondary) and Typographic Exploration.
Mr. Suman Bhandary
The course at IIAD is a multidisciplinary communication design course. Towards the end of the 6th semester, all students are required to pick a “path” or an area of visual communication / interaction that they want to delve into. I always thought I'd pick Interaction Design as my path but once I saw the ISTD 2021 Student briefs, there was no turning back.
Part of the brief read what can a typographer do to address the imbalance, to harness, shape and organise words in service of breaking barriers?
The brief had a starting point of America in the 70s through the activist poems of Gil Scott Heron & media theories of Marshall McLuhan. As the project furthered, I embraced the open ended nature of the brief and explored racial, sexist, political & religious contexts on a global, national and local scale.
Important ideas explored during the context-definition stage.
During this entire phase of research, I became more aware of issues that had always existed around me but were never explicitly discussed. This observation was only heightened after my mentor pushed me to look at locally rooted issues & connect ideas to globally relatable contexts.
After about two weeks of developing my context, I started to look into the roots of "casual racism" in New Delhi towards Northeastern migrants. This was both, witnessed firsthand by me & connected to an important national issue at large.
An ethnographic study done by Duncan McDuie-Ra, titled Northeast Migrants in Delhi: Race, Refuge and Retail became an important point in my study. It was shocking to see that his findings, first published in 2012, still held true. Not a lot had changed for almost 10 years. This context was further substantiated through informal interviews with acquaintances in Munirka & North Campus.
Core issue identification. I arrived at this through a combination of primary & secondary research. Done on Miro.
I started to draw out parallels between the Latin alphabet and the feelings of Northeastern migrants in New Delhi. The idea then became to communicate these facts through typography & indirectly convey the disturbing truths that I'd uncovered during my research. You can view the A5 Sized flipbook below.
While the book meant to provide much needed context for the typographic outputs, the posters could exist in isolation as well and formed a self aware social media / print campaign. The posters are displayed below.
Design Process & Reflection
If you would like to read more about my process during this project, please refer to this document.
After this project, I've formed a notion that there are two ways to get it right: intuition or a hard mathematically derived model that you just cannot go wrong with. Throughout this project, I've furthered my understanding of complex grid systems and the rules that come with them. Each composition was thoroughly iterated and all of them still have some gaps in terms of compositional proficiency.
A page from one of my grid-breakdowns.
There are some gaps in the understanding of the project for the intended audience. It was said to be too abstract and metaphorical. When I reviewed feedback from friends and family, I noticed that very few of them were able to make the leap required in order to relate the typographic pieces with the context. The visual compositions, therefore, were disconnected from the text on the left in the book.
Another major problem was that the book was visually weak. The addition of ornamentation and a bolder colour scheme with clear separating pages would have removed some of the visual mundanity in the book.