Monday, August 08, 2016

An Eye For Letters

The Kozhikode-born graphic designer Sruthi Kainady talks about her experiences on working for the new logo of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York

Photos: Sruthi Kainadi by TP Sooraj; the new logo of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

By Shevlin Sebastian

Sruthi Kainady felt a little envious. Every day, she would go to work at the New York office of international brand consultant Wolff Olins (they had designed the logo for the 2012 Olympic Games at London), and she would watch as her colleagues would be working intensely on making a logo for the The Metropolitan Museum of Art (one of the world's finest museums, it has more than 20 lakh pieces of world art spanning 5000 years). Of course, she knew that she was just too new to be selected, just one month (July, 2014) after her graduation in graphic design from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).

But suddenly things changed. “One day, after going through several sketches, our creative director Lisa [Smith] asked the whole team to drop everything they were doing and contribute ideas,” says Sruthi.

The Museum wanted to become more accessible to its visitors, which averages six million annually from all over the world. “The team worked feverishly to visually articulate the Met’s key values,” says Sruthi.

She also worked on a few designs. Essentially, Sruthi created a sketch that connected all the letters, of the name, 'The Met', to suggest the museum's ability to connect cultures through art. The team appreciated this concept and developed it further. Thereafter, it was referred to the world-famous typographer Gareth Hague, who gave the finishing touches. ““You need an expert to refine it,” says Sruthi. “What Gareth did is what you see now.”

Yes, it is indeed amazing that the Kozhikode-born Sruthi played an important role in the logo's redesign. “I am so grateful that I got the chance to work with such a world-renowned group,” she says. “It helped me to gain valuable experience.”

Sruthi, 24, is the daughter of noted architect Tony Joseph, and Sonia, an interior designer. She says that her parents always encouraged her. “They did not force me to do anything,” says Sruthi. “They gave me the freedom to find out what I want to do.”

Right from the time, she was a child, Sruthi was obsessed with patterns, shapes and textiles. When the family would return from family trips, she would caption the photos with custom-drawn fonts. “What I do today isn’t all that different,” she says. “At that time I did not realise that there was an entire field that dealt with laying out information in a visual manner.”

Soon after her studies, in Pallikoodam, at Kottayam, till Class 10, then the Dubai American Academy, till Class 12, she went to the RISD.

Meanwhile, apart from the Met, while in RISD, for a class project, Sruthi did the logo design for the Retretti, an underground museum in Finland. “I also did the fonts for the Museum posters, applications and the web site,” she says.

In September, 2015, Sruthi was transferred to the Dubai office of Wolff Olins. While there, she has worked on a high-profile project for the government's transport department.

And she is clearly an asset to the company. Says Marie Succar, former design director at Wolff Olins, Dubai: “Sruthi always challenges the status quo. Her outlook on solving design problems is a curious, creative and logical one. What compliments Sruthi's talent is her personality. She is a sweet, open and transparent soul, which makes working with her a pure joy!'

On a mini-break, at her home town of Kozhikode, Sruthi will soon be moving to the London office of Wolff. “I am all excited about the future,” she says. 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode)

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