Are colors important in Mobile Phones!

Few days back I got a chance to meet Axel Meyer, Head of Nokia N-Series Design. He was in town to talk about latest Nokia’s N97. There were lots of questions about operating system, camera, battery, storage and touch screen.

Axel MeyerLots of comparison with phones available / or releasing soon in same segment also happened, like HTC Magic, Palm Pre, Toshiba TG01 and  Apple iPhone 3G S.

Form and design of all these mobile handset looks similar- thinner and rounded corner. But N97 has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. Talking about QWERTY, people aren’t excited about the shorter spacebar and awkward placement. With huge storage capacity 32 + plus 16GB microSD, it could lead the pack but operating system choice make it less attractive to geeky guys. People were looking forward for LINUX based web OS.

Though N97 got both touch (resistive) + QWERTY, it is way behind iPhone which has capacitive multi-touch screen. In fact, Palm Pre has the best offering – Capacitive multi-touch screen + QWERTY. I also heard people’s opinion on slow response of resistive touch if they have used iPhone or own it. Now coming to the camera, being a DSLR holder, I can never enjoy the camera phone but let’s see what everyone is offering. N97 has 5 MP with Carl Zeiss Tessar f/2.8 optics and dual LED flash but N82 is going to launch with 8MP. Same time Sony’s Satio will have 12.1 megapixel camera with Xenon flash.

He talked a lot about India, culture and designing gadgets keeping in mind their needs. One important question was asked by someone-What are the most important aspects that you keep in mind while designing a phone” and Axel responded “It’s all about people; always taking into account people’s needs as a driving criteria”. Axel also said, “All Nokia N-series devices are aware of beautiful solutions”.
And when I asked why such a high end gadget fitted with lots of features & user friendly interfaces comes only in Black or white colors, I did not get a proper answer from him.

Why doesn’t smart phones come in user’s choice of colors? Take example of Dell, Sony’s laptops or digital cameras, which offer a choice of colors. Thankfully, Sony is quite a leader in matter of colors, heard Sony Ericsson Satio will come in multiple colors.

I also did a small survey to know people opinion- would they like more color choices when buying high-end mobile? The results were interesting- Black is the most popular choice, closely followed by wine. Other preferable colors are blue & silver.

Nokia N97

Final verdict– I doubt N97 design team did an in-depth research for colors. Like white color for Indian market and climatic condition is not so good. It’s not an appliance like washer, refrigerator that people will buy for neat & hygiene white feel. Form & design need more fresh approach to look different in league. Immediate improvement needed on multi-touch, camera and OS. It is expected to be priced at Rs. 35,000 +, pricey for sure but most phones are in the same bracket.

Your Environment day.

You love your family because they are part of you and you need them. You love you house because you put lots of effort to build it. You even love your job because it pays you.
But how much do you love your mother earth? Anyway, I am back to you. You love your family member than why most of grocery shopping is not organic or local veggie?
You love your home and appliances and gadgets than why you leave them alone to work? Switch it off. When you are a good team member why you don’t like the idea of car pooling?

There are so many small -small things that could make the change to environment system. We all are aware still we look for a bigger change; a change made by someone else, some MNC come and ask you to be a part and you join it for showoff. Let’s start from ownself. Please, stop fooling ownself. Going green is not a trend, it’s your NEED & DEED.

Start using what is needed, don’t create unnecessary requirement. Don’t discard your old mp3 player for the sake iPod or switch to new mobile just because it has that extra* feature, like GPS. Or really want to track, when get lost in a concrete jungle! Before disposing off the old xyz GB Hard disk, dispose off the useless stuff that’s lying on your computer and you too know, you are never going to check it.

Change your lifestyle; else this world will change so drastically that you will not find any comfort. So better adapt now rather than making adjustments later.
Please check Greendex 2009: Consumer Choice and the Environment survey report (as per report Indians are most Greenest! )  and also take this quiz and you will be amazed to know, how each of us are demolishing the nature.

If you want to know, how you can make an impact in saving environment, read these useful daily tips.
Also check my similar post on environment Green Alphabets and Start acting to save Earth and Need an earthy treatment.

Make a greener world for your own sake!

Toy story.

Other day I was having a conversation on recent ban on China toys, suddenly someone questioned, who is a toy designer? I recalled my post graduation days, when I was doing specialization in Toy design. Everyone thought it would be like making soft toys. It took long for me to explain that a toy designer does not make only soft toys or toys for babies. There is much more to explore, when we use the word TOY.

Apart from sewing soft toys, a toy designer works with many materials – wood, plastic, metal, rubber, bamboo, steel, paper and natural materials (like weeds, leaves, flowers) etc. If the material possibilities are not limited, then how the possibilities of areas could be?
It could be designing toys for sports, fun and education, special children, for teenagers, for adults (Sex toys!), toys for corporate (team building etc), stress busters, meditation and exercises, and even toys for old age people.

It could be anything from a social initiative to a fun filled activity to source of money.
And mind it designing a good toy is far more difficult than designing consumer goods. Money once spent on a gadget will not make you throw it even without using it. But if a toy is not attractive and not able to capture the attention of child; s/he might not play with at all.

Why there is URGENT need.
In early 2009, a lawsuit was filed by Consumer welfare of India on the basis of finding lead (and occurrence of Lead Poisoning*) in Chinese toys. India has banned the Chinese toy imports for six months. And as China was one of the major importers of toys this is going to provide Indian toy maker ample opportunities to take Indian toy industry at a different level. The global turnover of toy market was above $110 billion in year 2007 where China has 35,000 crore global market share where as India stands nowhere with 700 crore.
BUT China has grabbed 60 per cent of the domestic toy market. So are we ready? Can we grab this opportunity and show the world, our talent and skills to make these toys? It’s a difficult one. We have a Toy city in Greater Noida, we have many localized toy makers (Wooden toys from Uttarpradesh, Karnakta) but we need more conscious toys makers. Who takes this challenge and make toy more child’s friendly.

Let’s make a Toy Plan!
Being a country with a lot of diversities, we have a lot to offer when it comes to designing. One should just target one area from making toys for edutainment to fun to ecological and the possible ideas will come out by own.

Use of recyclable material, natural colors and more eco-conscious will not make a toy buyer happy but also keep a child healthier and happier.
There is one such cool example of greener toy- Fastronauts – Powered by Play

After all, what fun is a toy if you can’t play with it?

Home solutions.

If the role of color in any industry is very important than so is reading a consumer mind and coming up with a color forecast that will be liked my many (if not all) is very difficult.
Recent issues of design & interior magazines shows how new technologies and inventory features and interesting lighting and new materials possibilities making a Home much more trendy than ever.

Here are some home trends hints.

White and vibrant– From pure white to ivory and adding colors in accent, like, saffron is something that will make the interior to stands out. Apart from this Black and white theme is something that’s always green.

living & more

living & bath

Metals & wood – Hardness of metals and soft, warm feel of wood is something that can gel well with artifacts and furniture. Even the metallic finishes and rough old wood types are happening.

Dining and decor

Natural & organic– It’s more than just green décor. Adding a jute matt either as a castor or spreading a chatai or furnishing with natural colors prints are something talking loud. Anyway eco design is something that’s creating vibes from sometime and now when India also taking stands in green building than why not atleast green décor that we can think of when designing & decorating.

bedroom & more
kitchen and more

Leather & luxury– Leather is hot with soft touch and just a right level of use. The yellow, black or browns will look good. And yes, luxury is in! No more minimalism.

kids room

Wallpapers & graphics– other than in kid’s room its something that can be added anywhere to make that place stands out. Its simple, it’s easy and can be change as desired.

Light & bright– How could light be missing in any décor. Put it purposefully or just for adding a style element, with neat & clean designs and use energy efficient CFL or LEds.

Images Source– Internet (Design Sponge specially)

A call: on Mobile.

It has been long time since I blogged about anything. What was it means: nothing new happening or was I so busy that didn’t get time. No, nothing like that. It was just that when there was over information flow, one get lost what to talk.
Silence is golden at times. )

BTW I was quite active in my Flickr (earlier I was not), I even wrote a guest blog article for Ping Mag (one of the best design blog, from Japan).
In my work place, I am learning many new things. And try to understand much more.
Any way, what’s happening in World? Especially in Design sector, that too in India? Always make more sense to Indian Designers.The Digital design experience or people in User interface design would be happy to know about Nokia’s first satellite design studio in India, Bangalore...will explore a range of design trends and themes, including detailed research into colour and material trends in India. It will also study use of mobiles for Internet in India and its implications for design, and examine innovative new features and uses for mobiles.
[Source : Hindu]

I expect, soon I will get a handset for elderly. Last month only I was looking for a mobile for 60+ in not so urbanized area, which has basic functions and easy to navigate interface. Sorry to say I didn’t get a single mobile handset which fit the bill.

Talking about mobile:

I would like to say– few models are so sleek & smooth that it can look good only on an executive hands. While a field worker continuous sweating hand will make it uncomfortable to hold.

So many features- do we really need it? Few don’t even want to send & receive SMS.

Price range versus features. If it is a 2K mobile, is it really helpful in getting what one want? Don’t compromise quality by adding too much.

So many models, with little difference, so much of confusion. From Samsung to Nokia to new Bleu. A sliding cell phone with similar looks.

Total money expenditure- a 3G phone with cool features. But your current service provider gives you all that good service to operate those? If yes, how costly is it? Or you have to change your years old mobile number.

Even if you browse internet on your blackberry and check emails after every 10 min. Is it comfortable or just leave you more frustrated?

Your mobile is more of FM/ Camera to click pictures secretly or more to mobile blog?

Once you are comfortable with your current handset. It got stolen/broke, and you switched to new model of same company. Do you feel ease to operate it? If no, why so much complexity to understand all navigational system of a handset.

Why mobile buttons are so small? Why no models catering to those who don’t have such sleek fingers to press the right tab?

Regional language settings are there- but how many really needy use it?

There are many more concerned areas; these are many more simple questions other than styling & color of cell phone.

I am really disappointed when I visited Nokia exclusive showroom and did not get a cellphone which display text/numbers in good contrast on a reasonably good screen size along with basic features that work in a small town. Like FM. I hope, new Nokia design studio work in more user friendly way and come up with designs that really cater to the person who need it for basic functions not a gizmo. As number of mobile users in India are more than other parts. And these maximum numbers of users don’t work in corporate offices of a metro.

Wear it naturally

Crafty Story -II (A series on Indian Crafts)

Have you ever noticed what are the colors used for your favorite blue shirt? Are they natural or synthetic and artifically made? How much are they harmful to the enviroment or our body? Yes, I am talking about the colors and its impact on health and environment.
Dry colors, vegetable colors or natural dye colors are more skin friendly, and good. Its more like a family, region based business for making colors and implementing the same on products like-carpet, toys and printing etc.
The color that you are wearing, using will not only have colors to soothe your eyes but fragnance of the ingredients will also smells nicely. Colors derived from nature have some depth which chemical dyes lack.

China, Rome, Brazil, East Indies, France and many more countries are coloring the world in natural way. In history, India is painting naturally approximately since 327BC and has been a metaphor of excellance.

Natural colored dyed and handspun Carpet.
Natural colored dyed and handspun Carpet from nomadrugs.com

These natural, hand made, eco-friendly dyes are biodegradable and non-carcinogenic. They are obtained from dried flowers, leaves, seeds & barks and from stones at times from insects also! These are soft and low toxic colors generally non-allergic.
And use for dyeing of Textile like fibre, wool, yarns or garments etc. Paper coloring, on Toys and other Wooden products, making handmade Soaps, Candles; possible areas are unlimited.
From Indigo dye used in ‘Ikat’ (textile from Orissa, India) and food colors added in the form of Indian spices like Turmeric.
Nature colors.
Natural colors and dyes are extracted by the process of fermentation, boiling, and treatment with chemicals. Colors can be obtained from a single dye by the use of different mordents with which the fabrics to be dyed are treated.

 Indigo Dye and wool dyed
Indigo Dye and wool dyed in same. Pictures taken from http://www.aurorasilk.com/

Naturally Printed.
Fiber has cellulose and it will easily absorb natural dyes. Indian textiles are famous for naturally dyed cotton cloths. Gujarat, one of the major center for dyed and block printed textile. Rajasthan tie & dye (Bandhini) is worldwide famous so are Kasmir carpets that have interesting patterns by using vegetable dyes colors and Bihar Madhubani paintings painted delicately in natural colors.
Both western & eastern coast of India have beautifully printed cotton but technique is bit different. If south indian artists uses brush to paint then Gujarat uses wooden blocks for printing nice patterns.

Techniques
Printing blocks are made of teak wood, on one side design is etched. Other side has a wooden handle for holding and drilled cylindrical holes to pass the air and allowing the release of excess colors. New blocks are soaked in oil for 2 weeks or so to soften the wood grains.
In south a bamboo pen is used. That’s how Kalamkari- kalam (pen) and kari (means Work) method of painting on cotton or silk happen. Andhra Pradesh in India is famous for Kalamkari work.
Natural Dyes are supposed to use but gradually artificial and chemical colors are replacing the Indigo blue and Turmeric yellows.

Fabrics
Images courtesy- http://www.fabindia.com/craftsProfile.asp

Dyes making
Most of natural dyes are produced in situ means the coloring substance is extracted form the raw material and used. Which has disadvantage of non-reproduction, mass production, storing is also limited and it’s not standardized.
If techniques are used to produce in powder form than these drawbacks can be remove. Power would be available for long period of time, easy to carry & use and can be standardized by following the guidelines. Color variations in different lot can be also minimized.

Chemical Connection.
One side Natural dyes are organic, eco friendly, bio degradable and much more alive other side synthetics or chemically composed colors are inorganic, flat, and dead. A quick difference can be seen by checking the tonality, depth of naturally dye fabric to flat and unchanged artificial colors used textile.

But natural colors are now fading towards artificially made commercialized colors as it’s easy to get, ready to use. It is impractical to restore all our age-old practices with the versatility of man-made products still it s more about making a right choice and going nature way. To create a good and healthy and more alive work, natural dyes made work is better any day. It is not about saving time and producing quantity its more about retaining the craftsmen identities and making a greener and eco friendly choice.

Tags: Natural dyes, Vegetable colors, Indigo, Indian natural dyes, eco-friendly colors, handicraft, craft, Textile

Vroom in Green!

Now a days I spend lots of time in traveling. And I think at times how much conscious are we towards our environment.

Driving clean means going green or improving the environment quality. As CNG started getting grown as a major fuel source more and more car making companies giving option for CNG model. Compressed Natural Gas or CNG is a substitute for gasoline/petrol or diesel. It is an environmentally “clean” alternative to fuels. It contains methane (CH4) extracted from natural gas and stored and distributed in hard containers (cylinders). CNG cylinders can be made of steel, aluminium or lightweight composite (fibre-wrapped plastic).

cng-Vijay Abdul Kalam- duplicate of India President

In India few cities have only CNG based public transportation system. Like in capital (New Delhi) it was implemented by Supreme Court in 1998 that all auto rickshaws & Buses in and around city would be CNG or LNG fuel based. According to a study issued by the Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi, by 2002 all diesel city buses, 3 wheeler auto rickshaws and taxis in New Delhi have been converted to CNG and air pollution levels are noticeably down.
With the opening of more and more CNG stations and easy way to go CNG, private vehicles are also changing to CNG. The Delhi Transport Corporation now boasts it has largest fleet of buses in the world that use a clean fuel like CNG.
Natural gas burns cleaner than other fossil fuels, such as oil and coal, and produces less greenhouse gas per unit energy released. For an equivalent amount of heat, burning natural gas produces about 30% less carbon dioxide than burning petroleum and about 45% less than burning coal.
CNG-propelled autorickshaws are green and yellow in colour and buses have green & yellow colors stripes. By following cleaner and greener impact of CNG public transport other countries are also going CNG, like, Pakistan (Punjab) and England, Bangladesh etc.

So are you ready to pick a green fuel vehicle ) BTW Delhi has DTC (Delhi Transport Corporation) buses- which’s the world largest pollution free chain.
Read about CNG and CNG kit here.Â
Ps: The picture used here is of a CNGÂ Auto rickshaw driver, who is Duplicate of A.P.Kalam. Image is (C) 2007, Paavani.

Finally, Design Policy

Finally, India got its own design policy on 9th Feb, 2007.

From many years many people related with design industries & education, along with CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) and DIPP (Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion), were working on this. Design drafts were made and nothing happened much in the area of so called Design, which is such an important aspect of human life.

India’s IIT institutes are well known in middle class families but the name of NID (world top 50 design school) leaves many clueless. And, amongst those who have heard about the same, equate it with another fashion designing school. There are so many IITs and IIMs but design institute … well last week only Govt. approved making of four more National Institute of Design which might awards degrees instead of postgraduate or undergraduate diplomas. After all in India there are only 10 design colleges compare to Korea 300 design colleges and number of design students producing every year in India are around 8-10,000 as compare to China 30,000.

A design policy provides the deciding factors for any plan to carry on in long terms, it talks about the objectives and determines the favorable & unfavorable conditions by determining the design issues for the same. After deciding a design policy monitoring and keeping updates on same is also important. It not only ensures the high quality design by following the designing standards and things could be complete in given time frame.

For ensuring a permanent design connection between the design professional, design researchers, design companies & organizations and communicating with others and reaching to a broader market & society and boosting up the economics of the nation.

Here are the excerpts from the National Design Policy:

    1. “platform for creative design development, design promotion and partnerships across many sectors, states, and regions for integrating design with traditional and technological resources.”
    2. global positioning and branding of Indian designs and making “designed in India” a by-word for quality and utility in conjunction with “Made in India” and “Served from India.”
    3. making India a major hub for exports and outsourcing of designs and creative process for achieving a design-enabled innovation economy;
    4. attracting investments, including foreign direct investments, in design services and design related R&D; and involving industry and professional designers in the collaborative development of the design profession.

So no more hindrance, Indians got the passport to design good stuff. )

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Fairs & Festivity.

The festival season is around – after Dussehra, it’s the turn of the festival of light ‘Diwali’ with its counterpart Eid. So you can visualize the celebration happening inside home and outside (pockets) too. In India, a lot of importance is laid out to Navartri vrat, Diwali puja and Ramzan’s roza.

As I am really passionate about handcrafted stuff and designer collections, I always try to have a peek if there is something happening in town. Well, in past two days I went to one Diwali fair and an Art & design show.

Art & Design Show

Last friday evening Elle Décor award 2006 were announced; for seeing the winners names and details check the upcoming issue of ElleDecor (India edition). And if really interested to have a close lookup of the products, visit Art & Design show at The Grand Hotel, New Delhi India (Its happening from 14-15 oct. 2006).
Where you can catch some designers like Alex davis, Nikhil Verma designer furniture or Swarovski crystal artworks and Floss lighting to DuPont’s designer friendly solid surface. Or you can even catch a presentation on ‘the meaning of measure’ by Piero Lissoni. Here is a glimpse of that show.

About Diwali mela at Blind school, near Oberoi, New Delhi; its upto 18th oct. This is one of the best Diwali fair in Delhi, so don’t miss the chance and people comes here specially to buy candles that are specially crafted by blind students, which has the power to lighten up our homes.

You just can not stop buying lots of artifacts, terracotta planters and glittering gifts for ownself and others. I didn’t click pictures as I really wanted to enjoy the mood of fair there and I end up buying lots of awesome products for home. So go and enjoy and if get tired, take foot massage by students of Blind relief association instead of paying big chuck of money to VLCC or something.

So celebration is on. Cheers.

Crafting craftsmanship.

Craft is the one such subject that is always known to everyone from the very young age. Its such a distinctive thing that could be seen everywhere you go because every place have own specialty- craft of that city which have own art & grandeur. There is a legacy in making of it, there is story, a reason behind that’s why it is practicing from years. It’s just not a contemporary piece of furniture that is made by a creative person.

Elephants in stone

Today while browsing one of my favorite blog I came across ‘Crafting all the way to bank’ on Design Observer. And it made me to think about craftsmen. Once I pointed out about ‘Indian & African crafts’.

I come to know about the first references to Indian handicrafts was found from the Indus Valley Civilization. This civilization is well versed in the craft of bead making, ceramics, shell etc. Other golden periods were Mughal era and the Gupta period. As the India is diverse country so there is huge diversity in Indian crafts too. Colors of Gujarat to Rajasthani puppets to Agra’s stone work and Kashmiri shawls and South Indian sarees so much with own specialty that you will fall for everything and would like to take home.

Taking about craft is not so easy as now craft is merging more into design and trends. Products that were earlier known for traditional value and have a particular pattern or color scheme, today’s have more of selling power because of abstract form or use of colors in demands. It is all about customer taste, what he will like, he would like to spend money on. And what about the creator? Who are following the trade of patola silk sari (Patan, Gujarat) from years by using the same colors & pattern. How Chinese market is grasping the years old Banarasi silk sarees market by offering the same stuff at cheaper rate. Technology overruling intricate handwork.

Spending few hours with craftsmen and understanding their problem is one issue. But how exactly you can help, your role as designer. What is Design intervention, so many things that will come to your mind. How to prevent years practiced craft, And why craftsmen would like to pursue their grandfather skills.

Some continuos effort are made like opening of International Centre for Indian Crafts (ICIC). That will conduct number of need based knowledge and skill dissemination workshops and training programmes, and also work towards developing international collaborative network of experts in various areas of crafts and provide the exchange and knowledge transfer opportunities for the craftsperson. Which is very important. Like when I was documenting Wooden lacquerware toys of Varanasi, UP, India, craftsmen told me- ‘Now noone comes here for buying wooden Kitchen set so we are more interested in export, through our knowledge about how to do is almost nil. We have to be dependent on someone & that might take the advantage of our unawareness.’

So here comes the Awareness, the solution. This is what we need to do- establishing channels, mediums and frameworks that could help them to survive in changed scenarios. As with the emergence of market it is important that there should be qualitative market intelligence flow between market- place and the Crafts person.

With the understanding on production’s quality, crafts promotion and sustainability by keeping in mind market development, IPR issues and traditions.

Well managed and formed communities and centre for crafts, conducting skill enhancement workshops for craftsmen, giving training to the new or interested craftsmen. Conducting design research, exposuring the craftsmen to different cultures and doing design interventions for the upliftment of the crafts communities and improving the networking by approaching government, other countries for the mutual social-economic growth are some of the approaches.

Such makers have a unique & genuine connection with the natural world and it manifests itself in a creative excellence to world that take the wondrous elements of this earth coming up to exceptional terms which only he can make and we can only learn and ‘redesign’.