Design with Responsibility

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Responding to local Needs

There are numerous challenges that emerging economies like India face today. Where do we find answers to these complex problems? What do we learn from our past, our present?

What is the role of a practicing designer? Are designers, architects waging a lone battle when it comes to Green Products & Practices? With Paris agreement looming large, it is a good time to do a reality check on how businesses should approach the problem. 

How do we apply our learning to the future of 1.3 billion people in India and how do we align it to the challenges facing our “One Earth”.

By ASHISH DESHPANDE, Co Founder Elephant, Member of India Design Council, Jury for India Design Mark & 

VP - Association of Designers of India

Man has always been a creator.

Be it for anthropological reasons or certain survival instincts, creation is not new to us. We have been creating objects for a few millennia's. From creating for survival and local day to day needs, we have moved towards a rampant phase of object creation, stocking, consumption and refuse generation. The question that creeps up is how much should man create. What led us go get into an overdrive mode of converting every possible resource that we could mine into not an object of survival but that of desire? It is question every environmentalist is up in arms with the powers that be in our world.

According to the author, economist & environmentalist, Ramchandra Guha, “there was no environmentalism before industrialisation”. The term did not exist and came into existence only in the post industrialization period. Industrialisation itself came to India 30 years after it engulfed Europe in a bid to produce more, consume more post the discovery of oil & especially after the proliferation of mass production factories and later the plastics1. Designers and their self-serving employers in their greed & enthusiasm to scale up slowly drew into the web of global consumerism, forgetting our immediate environment concerns & local needs.  

Design as sensible

Design as a profession in its modern definition came into existence almost in parallel to the Industrial and the post-material phase contributing significantly towards creating innumerable objects of desire. Design has been ever present in our society.

The question is and always has been if designers are focusing on needs that are most relevant to us? Not always. If we focus on local context and we can see how examples from our past and cultural heritage have been contributing in creating objects of daily use.

Lets us take a deeper look at a traditional container that is used as an everyday object of use. In India we call it LOTA. It is a simple container found commonly in Indian homes as a traditional object, many a times handed down for generations.

Amazingly, it took the great American Design couple, Charles & Ray Eames to look at this ubiquitous object, to so very eloquently describe it in their now famous India Design Report which laid the foundation of present design in India.

Lota is a product that is very simple in shape and can hold water, milk, grain. It can act as a measure of volume and weight. It is very comfortable to hold, ergonomic, can be carried in hand, affords being carried at waist, or on the head. It can be stored one on top of other. When poured it makes a nice sound. The shape counters fluid dynamics during motion and at the same time is simple & beautiful. It is truly multi purpose. It is locally produced and when made in clean copper, even purifies water. It has taken our society years to perfect this object into a very sensible product.

Lota, however traditional, establishes principles of good design. Good design is the one that addresses needs of our immediate surroundings, is multipurpose, made from local resources, lasts long and is adaptable over the period. As an object, Lota has not lost its relevance after centuries, nor has it contributed to our over growing refuse and land fill problems. It teaches us an ancient lesson of beingsensible in our approach to adding objects into our present day daily existence.

Design as emotionally durable

However, sensibility cannot be restricted to functions alone in the personal lives of people. Like in Korea, in India too, people love their food and cooking traditional recipes is a national passion. Traditional cooking is on a slow flame so as to retain flavors, ingredients and so on. However, the traditional pots presented a problem of reuse and cleaning. Additionally, such pots get soiled during cooking and are not useful for serving as tableware. This practice is getting lost over time.

The Slow Cooking pot range was completely redesigned and recreated using organised process of Earthenware manufacture. This way the dimensions and stability of the product can be controlled. The new pot was design with a system of lid and pot. The unique feature of the new pot was that the exterior as well as the interior of the pot is coated with food grade teflon. This is interesting as it makes the pot reusable and very easy to clean. The pot draws from the traditional form of the pots but adds convenience of an integrated carry and serve handgrip. The shallow dome shaped lid traps the steam and the detail allows it to snugly sit over the pot improving efficiency of cooking over heat. The lid handle is actually a small container for water to help condense the steam. The knob handle becomes a convenient resting place for the spatula. The product is called Bhoomi , which means Earth. The motif, which is glazed on to the surface, is derived from the Devanagri2 script letter “Bhaa” of Bhoomi and is simply a calligraphic expression reinforcing the products connect with earth.

 Designer as a creator

As Designers, we usually tend to distance ourselves from taking responsibility for the negative impact of our creations to our society, economy and ecology. It is important that we introduce metrics that would guide us measure such an impact. It is also important to create an environment & team that is amiable and sensitive to being responsible.  

“Design, if it is to be ecologically responsible and socially responsive, must be revolutionary and radical – says Victor Papanek.3

Victor Papanek, an Austrian designer was rebel with a cause. He relentlessly campaigned for designers and product manufacturers to make their articles relevant, meaningful & sustainable. This father of responsible design was even critical of the design fraternity, beginning his seminal book, Design for the Real World with, "There are professions more harmful than industrial design, but only a few… following up with ... by creating whole species of permanent garbage to clutter up the landscape, and by choosing materials and processes that pollute the air we breath, designers have become a dangerous breed."


Though designers are crucial to the creation of products & environments, they do not constitute the sizeable decision making machinery in corporate juggernauts. Whipped into being morally responsible many designers have fallen into line, however do they have control?

The Paris Agreement on climate change saw 195 nations give it a nod. However, notably 5000 businesses from 90 countries have agreed to align and support the global agenda towards a properly sustainable & low carbon world. This is a recognizable outcome of COP21 and will call for a fair bit of transparency framework and practices to be adopted. Against this backdrop where do producers of products and services stand today? What is the degree of practice shown by business concerns today that is environment friendly and sustainable? As designers, it is important to take a hard look at the playing field.  

Who is thinking Green? 

One rarely comes across corporates & producers with genuine concern for sustainability. Corporate structure necessitates several point of views getting channelized into the decision making process. Designer’s concerns have a tendency to lose itself in a deluge of constrains from all stakeholders. Green concerns have always been secondary. Most producers are motivated by long term monetary savings, or operational benefits that green products bring to their business.

The “green & good for environment” part is a by-product of fiscal decisions. So, the priorities today can be stated as;

·       Operational expense savings

·       Company law regulations, environment policy mandates

·       Competitive advantage

First is the prime mover for “green decisions” in corporates. The second is a legal necessity and the third is the story. However, all require a Design Thinking approach to make the impact stick with people, deliver monetary & habit change and be good enough to bear the “green edge”. Design is one such asset capable of enabling a “green edge” within a production setup, provided design teams start dropping their blinkers and business leaders open their minds.

Stepping beyond singularity, design teams tend to stick around creative ideation as their strength. A large part of this creative energy goes towards focusing on the Product or Service, form, function & experience. Products or services are interaction cores of a larger engine that makes solutions happen. Design needs to enlarge focus beyond the fuzzy elements of product solutions. Rarely do Designers concern themselves with manufacturing processes, materials with reference to its impact on our environment. Most follow the producers set up as an overriding constraint to design. It is interesting to bear in mind that a product or service is not alone. It comes heavily loaded at one end with manufacturing systems and on the other end with logistics of market access, retail & consumption. A sum total of this value chain is the impact of a “Design” on environment. This value change can no longer afford to be linear in thought process and remain in isolated silos of excellence, rather play like a football team with a unified objective.

Creators & producers need to proactively look beyond ideas into product optimization, cleaner production, life cycle assessment, cradle to cradle, extended responsibility and environmental impact assessment as part of their design process & tools, both in development & route to markets. Green Innovation will happen, provided the thought is holistic and across the value chain. Newer practices will add up to the expenses, however, eliminating waste, sharing resources may be light weight methods of lowering costs and offsetting any new“green” expenses without business disruption.

It is sad to see that most “green energy” transport solutions today, are the most “expensive” transport solutions.  Herein lies an opportunity for “creative” approach towards ensuring both “green” (environ & monetary) returns on investment made. Many a times policies can be binding, like take the case of restrictions on use of thin plastic grocery bags. Prior to the bags coming in market through grocery chains and standalone shops, cloth & paper bags were prevalent. Years after restrictions were executed, the industry has not been able to promote alternatives. Paper bags are laborious to manufacture, not sturdy & have their own issues, cloth bags have not regained popularity. The industry has invested huge into plant, materials, machinery & markets that prevent it to see a linear solution in sight. Solutions at present are incremental or too expensive and need a creative thought from a different viewpoint. This calls for a mind & process shift by creating a new development process based on Design Thinking.

So, Industry focus must shift and businesses can start investing in co-creative development teams to make the future greener. New areas of focus for redevelopment can be one or all of the ones stated;

·       Power & Energy (Reduce consumption, Green source, increase efficiency)

·       Resource consumption and waste (localize, Reduce, Share, Reuse)

·       Production materials (low carbon rating, low pollutants)

·       Finishing substrates (Reduce, Remove, low carbon rating, low pollutants)

·       Logistics (Reduce distance, time, space)

·       Functions (merge, eliminate least desired)

·       Retail (Reduce touch points, strengthen story, share)


New development process based on Design Thinking leading to Radical impact within Resource limits. Illustration by the author.

Mahindra Reva’s e2o is a good example5. The design team went beyond the traditional indulgence of vehicle design into adapting efficient green production process, unconventional materials, solar charging and regenerative braking technologies and even new ownership programs to make buying affordable. The effort resonates of all round contribution at various levels & verticals. However, the car still leans on government policies & subsidies and has not yet managed to make the end price attractive for making box office hits. E2O and its predecessor REVA since inception has been a green focused business and so it is not surprising. That will be a remarkable example of “green impact” at an affordable price tag of US$6,000 compared to say a TESLA3 at US$35,000.

The way to do this is to work with cross-functional teams as a start point with Design Thinking as a primary enabling tool & framework for development. This presents a new challenge for designers as well as an opportunity to create more relevant, holistic & eco-friendly solutions. Moving focus away from traditional playgrounds for design development teams to new areas for innovation is a route with guaranteed success in the “Battle for the Greens”. Though, Design Thinking may “no longer be a competitive advantage” for companies, as questioned by Tim Brown, CEO, IDEO ( HBR Post )6, design & design thinking are still good enough to ensure a “greener” tomorrow.

Design for Larger impact

Let us look at another product from recent times. Like Republic of Korea, India is a large democracy and people voice is important. People express their voice & choice through voting. We are a country of 1.3 billion people and the numbers in India are staggering. We have 815 million registered voters. In our general elections we have 8000+ candidates in fray from 1600 political parties. People cast their votes from urban to remote corners of India through over 93 thousand polling stations. General elections used to consume more than 8000 tonnes of paper, accounting for over 200 thousand trees. This use to take days and days of laborious counting and bogus voting practices.

The design and introduction of the Electronic Voting Machines heralded a revolution in the voting process for the common people. Designed by Industrial Designers A G Rao & Ravi Pooviah from Industrial Design Center, IIT Mumbai7, along with Electronic Corporation of India8, they were first Tested first in 1989, the EVM’s have been used in total since 2004. The system is easily portable, takes less space to store, easy to use, makes the voting process quicker and results are available within a few hours. The communication and interface is highly simple and algorithms used are fool proof against erroneous voting and even frustrate bogus voting attempts.

This is another effective example of how sensible design can have a great impact on common people.

So, design must lead to a larger impact.  By sensibly addressing the needs of our people and by being relevant to the immediate social environment, it can bring about true improvement in life of a large number of population.

Design for community opportunities over luxury

India is changing. For people in an emerging economy to survive, local job creation is extremely important. About 800+ startups are set up every year. By 2020 there will be 12000 startups employing over 250,000 people. These start ups are looking at local business opportunities based on local needs. This is where design needs to focus.

Lets discuss the work of two enterprises working within local context. First example is work of Designer Laxmi Murthy and her organisation UGER9. UGER is a social enterprise. Lakshmi Murthy was very concerned with poor menstrual hygiene among socio-economically backward populations, women as they were not able to afford synthetic pads manufactured by Multi National Companies.

The existing pads were not friendly to the skin due to use of bleach and once thrown, due to synthetic materials, disposal was big issue contributing to land fill problems.

Eco friendly Pads being sold online, picture by Author of Uger online promotion

Uger has designed sanitary pads for women that are made entirely in cotton. They can be washed at home and hence can be reused. This makes use of sanitary pads affordable to low income group women. And improves hygiene amongst these women. The pads come in pleasant colours and patterns. The inner stuffing is cotton that does not add to disposal and landfill issues. Pad making has given employment and work to women from the region. Laxmi Murthy has created value for women who are socio economically backward while mitigating environmental risks.

The second project is by Promethean Power Systems10, a start up. This project was done for the benefit of milk farmers in rural India. It demonstrates as to how technology led solutions can be created for people with lower resources and means.

Operation flood that was launched in India by the government has ensured that milk production has substantially increased at rural levels. Over 100 million gallons of milk is produced each year in India. However, milk requires immediate chilling otherwise in hot, humid conditions in regions like India, the milk quality diminishes in less than 4 hours. In India 10 million US$ worth of agricultural produce is lost due to inadequate cooling. In rural areas there is power only for 10 – 12 hours.

This affects milk chilling and the quality of milk, which in-turn reduces the earning by the farmer.

The new solution by Promethean Power Systems uses a Thermal storage battery that uses a phase change material to store and transfer chill energy. The battery charges up whenever the power supply is present and is ready to chill even when there is no power. This system ensures that there is chilling charge available in the system 24 hours, even when there is no electrical supply. Costly diesel set and stocking of fuel is avoided. The components are Modular and hence they can be easily transported in a small commercial vehicle. The bodywork is Stainless Steel, is hygienic. The loader platform ensures ease in pouring milk. What has this product achieved? It has made Making milk chilling affordable at community level. The farmers do not loose milk produce. The dairies get better quality of milk and the consumer gets healthy milk product.

Empowering communities to add value to their produce helps local communities grow and prosper. When we provide more value using fewer resources for more people our design efforts can be said to be truly working.

Design that helps sustain

There is an emergent need to shift the focus of design from the top 1% of the world population to the needs of rest of the world. This majority portion of the world faces complex problems in healthcare, energy needs, education, basic food & sanitation. Design has the potential to connect people with technology, people with people and businesses with people to reach out appropriate solutions that not only make lives better but help our planet to breathe.

Remote health care has started gaining importance in emerging economies. In countries like India, which fall short on resources, modes of travel, presence of primary health care, design and technology can come together to reach solutions and care to people who till today do not have access to good healthcare and diagnostics services. SynPhNe11 and Healthcubed are two such examples of new companies that are employing cutting edge technology and design to provide low cost, portable healthcare and diagnostics solutions to common people. Their design & technology may be based on local context but the solutions can help bring access to cutting edge healthcare and diagnostics to any person on our planet.

Talking of our planet, it is important to highlight the work of Daily Dump12, a Bengaluru, India based design led enterprise that has been using design to create eco friendly compositing solutions for organic waste. Daily Dumps work has helped change mind set of urban citizens towards waste segregation through effective use of design, local solutions and in the end it is a big step towards helping sustain our planet.

There is enough to be done for our planet and its habitants. As designers, we need to keep asking where we stand. I believe, It is our responsibility as a designer to sensibly keep giving more, by look for opportunities and understand that we can help make a large impact with design to the lives of common people, while sustaining our precious eco system.


1.      How much should a person consume? By Ramchandra Guha, 2010, Hachette India. Ramachandra Guha is an Indian historian and writer whose research interests include environmental, social, political and cricket history. For the year 2011–2012, he held a visiting position at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), the Philippe Roman Chair in History and International Affairs.

2.      Devanagari, a script based on ancient Bramhi script family that has forty seven primary characters and is used for over 120 languages,

3.      Victor Papanek, Victor Joseph Papanek (22 November 1923 – 10 January 1998) was a designer, author and educator who became a strong advocate of the socially and ecologically responsible design of products, tools, and community infrastructures.

4.      Design for the real world, Victor Papanek, Academy Chicago Publishers (Preface to the first edition)

5.      Mahindra & Mahindra is an automotive manufacturer, India, Reva & E2O, are all electric vehicles with zero tailpipe emission claims,

6.      Tim Brown, CEO & President, IDEO,,  HBR Post,

7.      IIIT, Mumbai, Industrial Design Center, is a premier design school established in 1969,

8.      Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) is a Government of India Enterprise under the Department of Atomic Energy (India), established on April 11, 1967 by Dr A S Rao at Hyderabad, to create a strong indigenous base in electronics,

9.      UGER, means “new beginning”, UGER is a movement about women's empowerment and menstrual issues,, a brain child of designer, Laxmi Murthy

10.    Promethean Power Systems, designs and manufactures refrigeration systems for cold-storage applications in off-grid and partially electrified areas of developing countries.

11.    SynPhNe is a Singapore based bio medical initiative,

12.    Daily Dump helps manage waste and garbage for home,

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Monday Morning & Taximeter

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First #MondayMorningMeeting at the reclaimed #PalmBeach opened with the very inspiring presentation by our super designer #PriyankaKaryekar who walked away with the cool #taximeter trophy at #taxifabric#TFWorkshop with her Disco Driver theme. 

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I'm a preacher for planning. I love to work on well-planned projects. It helps me maintain the enthusiasm, fun & love for work.

I was blessed with really good, encouraging seniors. And I try to bring those qualities of encouragement, guidance, humbleness & fun on the table as we work.

Suraja Kotnis - Graphic Design Team

I am working on photo-shop tablet sketching and through peers I have learnt the process from scratch in Elephant and will continue to try and learn new methods like this independently.

Aarish Netarwala - Product Design Team

I strongly believe that my greatest value is my love for illustration. And if there is any illustration work required by any team, I am happy to help!

Nivedita Kekre - Graphic Design Team

Beyond the defined solution I also make few innovative routes, which are a few steps above the requirement. This way the client can know our expertise and understanding of the problems in his market. Also the client can come back to us when he/she has more evolved requirements as well.

Rimpy Batra - Graphic Design Team

I am encouraging all designers to create one pro-active design work a month. This not only creates a healthy competition but also pushes ones creativity. One also ends up doing something different beyond the regular projects.

Nikhil Phadke- - Graphic Design Team

Constraints as well as possibilities with the vendors/supplier organizations are important. This helps us to know the latest trends and technologies in the respective sector. I am creating a cutting edge vendor list, and will try to arrange visit for the team.

Yogesh Maralkar – Product Design Team

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I always have options ready.   Being in Administration and HR we have to take extreme care about planning. Still we should think about the worst problem may occur in between and always be ready with the options so that all functions happens smoothly.

For example, arrangement for any event / workshops check all small thing like food type, drink flavour, mosquito repellant in working condition, etc.

Jayashree Babar – HR & Admin Team

Whenever I encounter a design brief or a design problem I try to look at divergent ways to come up with concepts ( e.g Method cards, Visual Thesaurus etc)  and to bring the same to a logical execution. Being empathetic to the users/clients needs is something that I have learnt over time here.

Meenakshi Borgohain - Graphic Design Team

A design that is practical and easy to execute as per the production methods. I try to educate the younger designers the importance of smart design.


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I try to involve in other teams project also and give my inputs wherever necessary new technique, method and new design trends.

Abhay Patil - Graphic Design Team

I have also been organizing out of office activities with my colleagues that include home visits, outings, treks as well as get-together for Elephants. Meeting outside the office helps the team synergies and know each other better, building friendships and camaraderie.

Harshad Choudhari - Program Management Team

I maintain a list of work, which I have to do. And try to done it as per priorities.  It is very helpful to me to keep track on my daily, weekly, monthly work.

One thought can change our mood. I try to write one good thought on our white board everyday.

Rohini Natu – Finance Team

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Smallest of things I learn at vendors & printers, I feel the need to convey it to our designers as well as artwork people quickly.

Pravin Mutkekar – Artwork team

By educating everyone around us with the projects that we have worked on and letting them know of the mistakes committed, so that such errors and mistakes can be omitted in future, adds to a lot of value to the Team.

Sharing and using new technologies, new trends and new insights from the industry/cross-industry

I have learned a lot from this place, and wish to give back with pleasure.

Vidyavati Gore – Program Management Team

I try to go the extra mile and do something additional for my colleagues who are stressed out. This in turn gives me an exposure to a task that I may not have worked before.

Gouri Kamat – Graphic Design Team

Quality is always maintained in urgent work, many a times in hurry, there is a big chance that slip up might happen for some things.

Power Saving - I take care of mine as well as my floors machines when is not in use, at that time I switch OFF the machines / ACs / Lights / Fans etc.

Harshad Deo - Artwork team

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Around the Palm Beach Café

We have been immensely busy, doing very diverse set of engagements, exploring the length & breadth of what design thinking can do, and enjoying many high points. Here is what has happened at Elephant in the last 2/3 of years: It is a long note, but I think you may enjoy going through it. 

Big deal: Elephant completed 25 years this May; the only independent multi-disciplinary design agency to reach this milestone in India. We are rather proud of this achievement considering we started & grew in Pune, which is not a main-stream business or media hub. We believe Elephant pioneered “business of design” in India. We have stayed profitable in the entire journey, though initially, for at least a decade, we had to painstakingly explain & prove the power of design-led thinking to Indian businesses. Elephant  has also been a launch-pad for many of its former interns & employees who are now successful design entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs in various corporates. 

Growth: through work across India, SE Asia, Africa& Europe leading to deeper understanding of global trends and consumersOverall, the focus has grown from delivering design projects to partnering with clients for design thinking & strategy for a sustainable success.  As of today, Elephant is 80+ team with largest number being at Pune, its centre of excellence. Delhi team celebrated 6 years, with 25 people. Team recently moved to Cyber City at Gurgaon in a swanky place, closer to many clients. Singapore team, now in its 3rd year has grown too and remains housed at a plush business complex off Orchard Road. Elephant’s relevant experience in design-led innovation found great traction in SE Asia with clients from diverse domains including hospitality, spa, beauty products, art, education etc. An Elephant outpost near Bonn in Germany has been activated recently and it also won couple of strategic projects in the consumer goods domain for brands looking to enter emerging markets. This outpost may soon become a full fledged office. 

Elephant Culture: When you always want to do the new, and discard repetitive, templatised solutions, the challenge is to the keep teams consistently curious & engaged. We celebrate every festival, encourage multi-cultural ethos, have our own band, Elephant Premier League cricket internal tournament, celebrate Fruit Day on 10th of every month, make eco-friendly Ganesh idols, have our own café called Palm Beach. We welcome interns from USA, Turkey, Singapore, Germany, France & most frequently, The Netherlands. We strongly believe that we are unparalleled in keeping a vibrant culture alive at work among our fraternity. We have Monday Morning Meetings as a ritual at Elephant where we come up with a new group engagement every single week. This helps us keep a positive mindset despite trying deadlines to solve wicked problems. 

Top work in 2/3 of years: 
Last 2 years got us 2 ReBrand 100 (USA) awards, CII Design Excellence & Designomics for CI Programmes. Daimler chose Elephant, a first ever design partner outside Germany to design their brand. Elephant team designed the Bharat Benz identity for Daimler trucks. The brand was cast keeping the legacy as well as cultural alignments in mind. Praj, a B2B engineering giant invited Elephant for rebranding. Talking about long term relationships, Elephant had also worked on the original Praj branding in 1996, which was up for change due to newer ambition & global growth. The new brand was launched in 2014. We facilitated an ‘integration through branding” exercise for a group of 10 companies led by Bhogales from Marathwada region. The group is now called AITG, that stands for Applied Innovation & Technology Group. We also rebranded another very ambitious engineering company called GrindMaster last year. 
Elephant has been the design partner for Champion’s League T20 for three consecutive cricket seasons including one in South Africa for creating brand livery for communication & venues. The most happening IPL cricket team, KKR invited Elephant to design the stadia livery for last season of IPL. 

FMCG Brands: Hector Beverages partnered with Elephant for naming, visual identity & packaging for a range of ethnic drinks. Paper Boat is considered the most successful beverage brand launch of the decade (the last successful one was Appy in mid-eighties, which later launched Fizz). Other very successful packaging launches include Good Knight Fast Card, Good Knight xpress system, Hit Anti-roach gel, Lacto Calamine rebranded range, V wash, Britannia Tiger, Marie Gold, NutriChoice, Cakes, Devaaya rice & staples, Colgate Visible White, Eraser skincare, Tzinga beverage, Kara skincare wipes, Kyron Brandy, Jolly Roger Rum, Venky’s sports nutrition, Heinz MaPlan, Galaxy & Snickers Festive packs, Haldiram’s Festive packs, rebranded Chandrika, rebranded Glucovita & many more. Elephant was also invited to work on two international brands from Godrej portfolio; Stella, a homecare brand in Indonesia & a hair brand across 5 countries in Africa. The former has had a very successful launch, the later is almost ready to go to market. We can easily claim to be in any Indian shopping basket through at least one brand designed by us. 
We published insights & trends around “new woman” on International Women’s Day this year. They can be read at

Product Design: In our 25th year of design partnership with Symphony, the team designed two highly successful air-cooler ranges Diet & Storm. Symphony is world’s largest air-cooler brand with reach in 30 countries. Elephant has designed their products since 1989. We also continued to design range of products for India’s leading cookware brand, Nirlep, another very long & strong design partnership. 
Other work includes a global award winning milk chiller for Promethean Power Systems. This project was a partnership to achieve solution for rural milk-collection eco-system that faces huge challenges due to inconsistent power supply. Most exciting moment for this team was to get invited by BCCI to design an exclusive memento that was presented to Sachin Tendulkar on his last outing. 

Retail: Two consecutive VMRD awards for best retail design for QSR chains Venky’s Xprs & KrustysBistro. Our long time partnership with Axis Bank was instrumental in getting them CMO Asia Award for Impactful Retail & Merchandising Programme. Branded experience design work also includes Suzlon Global Campus, Eon Campus etc. 

Digital: Elephant has been involved in creating highly engaging digital experiences. As part of our long association with Delhi Duty Free Stores, Vir Sanghvi was signed on as India’s first Facebook editor for the brand. His deft inputs on Facebook and his engagement on luxury brands with bloggers and the DDFS team added an important dimension to the communication. When every TV channel went hoarse with their analysis on Lok Sabha election results, we launched, a website for user generated infographics to express opinions on events of interest. This was a self initiated platform brought to life with IT giant Persistent Systems and Sakal media group as partners. We will be exploring immense potential of this platform in the near future through various participatory triggers. 

Social Impact: Elephant contributed to a global award winning social impact project with a couple of workshops and visually appealing and cost effective packaging for the laddoos once the recipes were finalized. The Laddoo Project is aimed to provide nutrition to under-privileged children and was executed by DeepaGriha NGO with support from Design Impact USA. Elephant has been chosen as a design partner by Delivering Change Foundation that is working towards “Draught Free Maharashtra by 2019”. The same team also partnered with Elephant for “Pune Bus Day” which was a huge success in November 2012. 

Elephant was invited by HK Government to be part of “Colours of Asia”, research project that culminated into an exhibition, seminars & book that was edited by me, with contribution from design experts across 13 Asian countries. 

For the Design Fraternity: Apart from speaking & jury engagements including ICOGRADA Design Week in Vancouver, Business of Design Week in HK, Design for Asia Awards (HK), Spikes Awards (Singapore), Pioneer Design Awards (China), Design for Change Awards, VMRD Retail Awards, PrintWeek Awards etc, co-founders of Elephant have played a key role in building Association of Designers of India. As Vice President of Association of Designers of India, Ashish is actively involved in supporting and promoting design as a profession and in convening Pune Design Festival for eight consecutive season since 2006. The Ministry of Industry & Commerce, Government of India invited Ashish as honorary member of India Design Council and of CII National Committee on Design. Ashish  was awarded certification in Good Design Awards system from Japan as part of cooperative initiative between Japan Institute of Design promotion & India Design Council. He has been on the jury of India Design Mark since its inception in 2011. 

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