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Design Strategy, Trends

The 21st century has brought with it an unprecedented surge in emotional and mental health issues and an article by Sarah Rich, Editorial Director at IDEO, nudged Zeitgeist to revisit the positive impact Design, as a discipline, could have on the wellbeing of people living in this century.

In this article we examine 3 emotional wellbeing issues of the 21st century and highlight a few design solutions that aim to mitigate them.


According to the September 2018 issue of The Economist, the lonely are not just sadder; they are unhealthier and die younger – here is an article from Harvard University that explains why. Loneliness is not just affecting the elderly, as would be natural to believe. Studies have shown that the elderly are actually more resilient to loneliness than millennials. For all the benefits technology has brought, one of the negative impacts it has had on today’s youth has been the aggravation of feeling isolated from society.

While technology has improved connectivity, it has ironically, for a large section of the world’s population, decreased feelings of connectedness.

How can design help mitigate the rising global problem of loneliness?

One way would be to design more meaningful experiences. While a youngster may have 1000 ‘friends’ on Facebook, nothing beats the experience of human interaction. The Cares Family – a UK based charity dedicated to curbing loneliness – creates experiences that bring together the two groups most vulnerable to loneliness. It organises activities within communities that bring together those in the age groups of 65+ and 21 – 40, as it feels that these two groups have much to learn from each other and in doing so can build real bonds of connectedness, purpose, friendship, sharing and belonging.


While we don’t mean to club anxiety and depression as a singular problem, in many cases the two go hand in hand. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, nearly one-half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

– An Assocham study released a few years ago revealed that in India “Because of demanding schedules, high-stress levels, and performance-linked perquisites in private sectors, nearly 42.5 percent of employees in private sectors are afflicted with depression or general anxiety disorder…”

– In the US, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness.

– According to, in 2016, the world had nearly 275 million people suffering from anxiety disorders.

– According to the WHO, globally, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression.

These 4 statistics alone bring out the fact that anxiety and depression are amongst the biggest health issues of our time. The reasons are many – and we shan’t go into them here, but as designers we can ask ourselves what we can do to mitigate the problem.

Can we design products and services that push back against these alarming statistics?

Here are a couple of examples of products that aim to alleviate the prevalence of some forms of anxiety and depression:

Applications like Calm, Headspace and Breathe use technology to help people with de-stressing techniques at regular intervals. Some of these include meditation, focused breathing and stress-buster time-outs.

Colouring books for adults are an example of a product designed to alleviate anxiety and depression, as well as improve focus.

Concentrating on colouring shifts the focus from troubling and debilitating thoughts and moves it to something creative and rewarding – a completed art project.

Some products aim at easing specific types of anxiety or depression. For example, sunrise alarm clocks are designed to help people coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression related to changes in season.

Sunrise alarm clocks (also called SAD alarm clocks or bodyclock lights) such as those made by Lumie, use the concept of Light Therapy to gently and gradually increase the intensity of light emitted from the alarm clock, mimicking the way the Sun actually rises, beginning 30 minutes before desired wake up time. Incorporating a more holistic mirroring of the human body clock is a gentler way to ease the body into waking up. In contrast, waking up to a tune, even if it’s a peaceful one, is more jarring, and could cause the sudden release of cortisol, and hormone imbalance – leading to a bad mood or feelings of depression.


The example of the sunrise alarm brings us to the problem of sleep disorders. While some sleep disorders are caused due to underlying medical health issues, very often sleep problems are a result of other mental wellbeing issues, mainly anxiety and depression. What are the dangers of not getting adequate sleep? This video explains:


Here are a few products designed to help create the ideal ambience for a good night’s sleep:

In some cases completely blocking out all external sounds and/or listening to white noise can induce better sleep. Bose Sleepbuds have been designed specifically to enable this. While sleep buds can sometimes be large and uncomfortable, Bose keeps the design small and sleek, and ensures comfort even when sleeping on one’s side. Users can opt for preloaded music tracks that either mask external noise or help with relaxation, set alarms and timers, and charge the speakers through its nifty little case.

The Dreampad pillow’s inbuilt sound technology allows only the user to hear tracks while lying on top of it, without disturbing others in the same space. According to the company, the pillow is designed to be more effective than white noise machines alone, since it travels through the body by bone conduction and triggers the nervous system’s relaxation process simultaneously. It plays preloaded ambient music that is most conducive to deep sleep.

Zeitgeist is always inspired by design solutions like these. And now we are asking ourselves how we can design experiences for heightened emotional balance.

Watch this space for more!


Design Strategy, Trends

The recent past has seen many companies, big and small, leverage on the rapid advancements in artificial intelligence, voice recognition, computer vision and motion sensor technology that the world has seen in the past few years, to bring pathbreaking, innovative new products into mainstream, everyday use.

One of the areas such technology has the potential to create meaningful social impact is in its use to improve the quality of life of the differently abled community. However, ‘designing’ for this community is sadly often reduced to nothing more than an appendage to the original design, added on as an afterthought.

So, as a venture design company that is heavily embedded in design thinking, it is refreshing to come across products that are developed using the design thinking framework, where the end user’s experience is the focus of the problem solving process, and technology is integrated as an enabling tool that enhances the user’s experience.

Today we’re sharing 3 products that we feel are excellent examples of this, featuring one product each designed to assist the deaf, the blind and the mobility impaired.

Seeing AI

Microsoft’s Seeing AI (free) app is designed to assist people with poor or no vision. The app, which is VoiceOver enabled, uses artificial intelligence to help blind people make better sense of the world around them by*:

– Speaking text as soon as it appears in front of the camera.
– Providing audio guidance to capture a printed page, and recognising the text, along with its original formatting.
– Recognising friends and describing people around the user, including an estimate of their age emotions.
– Providing audio beeps to help locate product barcodes and then scanning them to identify what they are.
– Generating an audible tone corresponding to the brightness in the user’s surroundings.
– Reading out handwritten text.
– Identifying currency bills when paying with cash.

Here’s the demo video of the person recognition feature:

The app is currently available for download in 70 countries, including India.

Eye Gaze Controlled Wheelchair

A person who has a physical disability that prevents them from walking, would usually be able to move around with the help of a wheelchair. But what happens when the user also doesn’t have the ability to use his hands and arms to steer the wheelchair? Using its eye tracking technology, EyeTech, in collaboration with Quantum Rehab has designed a system to overcome this. Here’s a video that explains how it works:


This free app from Huawei uses a combination of artificial intelligence and augmented reality to scan and display text alongside sign language, via an animated character, helping young children learn to read.
This could potentially revolutionise the ‘storytime’ experience for the world’s 32 million deaf children. This video shows you how, and is also sure to bring a smile to your face.

How do you feel technology like artificial intelligence and virtual, augmented and mixed reality could be utilised to make a difference in the lives of people living with other forms of disabilities? Do share your thoughts in the comments below.

To help the creative juices flow, we leave you with a quote by Charles Eames that draws from the basic premise around which the design thinking framework is based:

Recognizing the need is the primary condition for design


Brand Strategy, Design Strategy, Trends

The end of the year is always a good time to take a look at trends that dominated the year gone by. While 2018 has been an exciting year in graphic design, 2019 promises to be even more so, with new technology and digital platforms opening up possibilities like never before. It also poses the question of what new skills graphic designers will have to hone to keep up in the coming years.

In the last article for this calendar year, Zeitgeist shares 5 of its favourite graphic design trends of the year and throws light on what we feel will be big in 2019. Creativity only gets better with shared ideas, so do share your thoughts in the comments below and reach out to us for collaboration. We’re waiting to hear from you!

What Was Big in 2018?


While experimenting with typography is not new to the graphic design world, 2018 saw several design agencies take things to the next level, with cropped typography, chaotic typography and negative space typography dominating much of the scene.

While designing the identity for the Bauhaus Archiv, the team at Pentagram has created no less than nearly 600 glyphs! This image shows a mere 42 of them, used on the cover of Printed Pages’ AW18 edition (also designed by Pentagram) which celebrates 100 years of Bauhaus and is available in 3 vibrant colours.

In fact, a visit to Pentagram’s Instagram account reveals that using interesting typography has been a big trend with the firm throughout 2018. They’ve used it in their work for the London Design Festival 2018, the September 2018 cover of Poetry Magazine, Droit and the Institute of Contemporary Arts/Boston to name just a few examples.

The trend was also popular at Frog:


If 2018 is anything to go by, using gradients in graphic design, a trend made popular by iTunes way back in 2015, isn’t going anywhere. If anything, designers are taking things up a notch by experimenting with more complex versions, such as radial gradients and multi-starting-point gradients, resulting in mesmerising visuals.

Landor used it in their rebranding of Ceconomy, creating vibrant, attractive visuals across various collateral.

Frog’s redesign of the TV experience for British Telecom subscribers saw the use of gradients as well:

Sagmeister and Walsh on the other hand, combined not one, but three cool trends, using gradients, trippy typography and duotones in their work for Zumtobel lights.


Using duotones is a great way for brands to incorporate a brand language across their collateral spectrum. Made popular by Spotify a few years ago, 2018 saw other brands create their own versions that make their brand immediately recognisable.

Jones Knowles Ritchie really upped the ante on brand recognition and the ‘cool’ factor with their 2018 rebrand for the Social Mobility Foundation, by using striking duotone filters in their work, and also incorporated a clever moving ‘O’ into the logo.

Pentagram’s work for the Atlantic Theatre Company’s 2018-19 campaign also features duotones and gradients, creating an immediate association with the brand.


While 2017 had its fair share of customised illustrations across brand campaigns, including one of our personal favourites – the AMVBBDO commissioned Mariana Rodrigues’ illustrations for Bombay Sapphire’s campaign featuring the 10 sustainable ingredients they use to make their gin, 2018 saw a continuation of the trend, with big names from the New York Times to Slack using the work of illustrators to give their brands unique one of a kind visuals and stand out amongst the competition.

Mailchimp’s 2018 rebrand as an anti-tech company by Collins and R/GA, featured the work of a series of illustrators, resulting in the new bright and catchy, mainly yellow, black and white graphics.

Evernote’s 2018 rebrand by DesignStudio also saw eye-catching graphic illustrations that built on the original vibrant green of the brand’s logo.

The trend even found its way to fashion houses, with both Givenchy and Dior using illustrations in their Zodiac series and Toile de Jouy Dior book tote designs respectively.


Brands have been paying more attention than ever before to the fact that today’s consumers greatly value authenticity. One of the ways this has filtered through to graphic design is by using authentic photography in design. This works particularly well when sending a strong message through a campaign, such as in the Social Mobility Foundation’s imagery (see above) and the You’re Already Rich campaign by Young & Rubicam, Santiago for Loto.

2019 and Beyond: What’s in Store?


Global trends in technology, innovation and social changes directly influence graphic design and advertising trends. Zeitgeist feels that 2019 will bring a lot more futuristic looking designs, in keeping with the way our world in general is moving – think IoT, blockchain technology, AR, VR, and MR – and using graphics that look like they’re out of a Star Wars movie feels like a perfect fit. BBC 2’s recent rebrand – its first in 20 years – is one of the best examples of this upcoming trend for the new year.


Graphics that incorporate movement is another big way graphic design is heading. Visit the Ceconomy website and you’re greeted with a swirly background inviting you to read their quarterly statement – it draws you right in! The same goes for graphics used by brands on Instagram and other forms of social media. Vogue Magazine released its first ever digital cover on Instagram, featuring a sparkling, red Vogue logo.

As already mentioned, the Social Mobility Foundation also saw movement in its rebrand:


Nearly all the examples we explored are ‘future ready’, designed not only for print, but also for all forms of digital media and the next generation of technology. For example, the Pentagram designed Printed Pages cover artwork mentioned above comes to life when viewed with the Artivive app.


Zeitgeist also predicts that graphic design will become more inclusive in 2019. What does this mean? Think Section 377, the #MeToo and equal pay movements that gained traction across the world this year. As society begins to take a stand against inequality and discrimination, it is bound to be reflected in the brand communications, so whether it’s using authentic photography, imaginative typography or designing in a futuristic context or one that is more inclusive of the disabled, graphic design will begin to reflect this trend too. We end this article with a great example of this – McCann’s work with MGM Resorts – reimagined love songs for the LGBTQ community, entitled Universal Love.


Design Strategy, Trends

At the intersection of technology and design lies a huge potential to create meaningful solutions. In last week’s article, we briefly explored some of the new technology that will soon find its way into our everyday lives. Today we examine a few industries where tech and design are already beginning to sit comfortably together and we explore what the future could bring.


For disciplines like architecture, interior design, process and factory layouts, and other space design fields, new technologies are opening up possibilities like never imagined before. mixed reality tools like Microsoft HoloLens allow all parties involved in decision making to view, edit and participate in the development of designs before execution, resulting in huge cost and time saving thanks to real time interaction, as well as improved customer and end user satisfaction!

With a VR headset, potential users of a space can take a virtual walkthrough in an unfinished project to see what the end result will look like.

Realtor apps like Street Peek already use augmented reality to have information like listing price and number of bedrooms pop up when potential home buyers/renters point their phone at a house.


Virtual and augmented reality improves the efficiency of collaborative efforts – a key element in developing sound and purposeful products.
According the the Microsoft website, “Microsoft HoloLens and Autodesk Fusion 360 are helping improve collaboration across the entire product development process, enabling engineers and designers to iterate together in real-time. Faster prototyping, more confident decisions, and more efficient cooperation are the future of product design.”


Google Glass, which didn’t do as well as its creators imagined it would in the mass consumer market, would appear to be finding a new lease of life in its new avatar – Google Glass Enterprise Edition, or Glass EE as it’s referred to by those in the know.

This version, which was adopted as pilot projects for testing in companies like GE, Boeing, DHL and Volkswagen, is beginning to garner large scale adoption, thanks to the improved quality and productivity observed by these early adopters, where Glass has helped workers improve their efficiency. For example, when workers at GE use Glass EE with a wi-fi enabled torque wrench, the device tells them if they are using the right amount of torque.

Further, research from Forrester indicates that by 2025, over 14 million US workers will be wearing smart glasses at their workplace.

Glass is a good example of innovative technology missing the mark, when its market potential is not properly explored and the product isn’t accordingly modified to suit a latent need. While Glass failed to garner mass B2C adoption, it appears to be redeeming itself in its 2.0 version in the B2B market.


Augmented and virtual reality have the ability to add tremendous value to the world of retail, and are poised to be used more frequently in the future.

We’ve already seen some examples of how virtual reality can offer a more immersive experience when it comes to advertising. For example, Lipton’s 360 VR ad campaign of 2016 allowed viewers to “go on a journey” inside a relaxing cup of tea. Similarly, Oreo’s campaign took their audience through a sweet-filled, tempting journey to promote their new cupcake filled cookie, while Johnnie Walker used VR to create a more realistic viewing experience while promoting awareness around the consequences of drinking and driving.

With augmented reality, retailers have the opportunity to put more information in the hands of their consumers, in a more fun and interactive way, simply by pointing their phone at an object. Imagine a future where you could walk through your supermarket and point your phone at a loaf of bread to have its ingredients, expiry date and such information pop up on your screen – the day when this will be commonplace is not that far away.

Besides educating or imparting information to potential consumers, AR could also offer them a more convenient, pleasurable and time saving shopping experience. Companies like Home Depot, Ikea, Lacoste and Sephora already have apps that do just this.

With Ikea Place for example, you can point your phone at any space and see what an Ikea product would look like in it. With the Lacoste LCST app, users just need to scan trigger images in a Lacoste store and can “try on” an entire product range, as well as interact with additional information. Timberland has even experimented with using AR technology for users to try on clothes, without physically trying them on.


Augmented reality puts information at the tips of travellers’ fingers, as they explore a new place. From historical information on monuments to nearby restaurants, lodging and other facilities, the improved experience for travellers results in more accurate information dissemination, time saving, better informed decision making and ultimately, happier holidays!

eTips is one company already offering AR enabled apps that turn your phone into you own personal your guide. Their apps are categorised into Landmarks, National Parks, Cities and Museums. So for example, if you were visiting the Louvre in Paris and wanted to know more about a particular painting, all you would have to do is point your phone at the painting and have the information pop up on your screen!
This article from CNN explores ten popular AR travel apps.


According to HackerNoon, by 2025 the healthcare revenue from augmented and virtual reality will be around $5 billion. Here are a few ways the medical world has already adopted the technology:

Using the Augmedix platform with Glass, a ‘scribe’ or real time assistant is able to remotely experience what a doctor sees and hears, thus freeing him up from the task of having to fill in information and leaving him more time to focus on his patient.
In one study, the total time spent on data entry went down from 33% of the day to just 10%, while patient interaction rose from 35% to 70%.

Another example is AccuVein. According to the company, 40% of IV injections miss locating the vein on the first attempt. Accuvein uses projection based augmented reality to make vein location in patients far more accurate it and has been found to improve the likelihood of first stick success by 3.5 times.

The AED4EU app used in conjunction with the Layar reality browser could potentially save people’s lives by helping them locate the nearest defibrillator.


Virtual and augmented reality in education allow one to experience something without actually having to be present at the place. For example, with Google Expeditions students can explore places from the Great Barrier Reef to Mount Everest, without having to ever leave the classroom!


We’ve only really covered just the tip of the iceberg in this article. While we’ve highlighted the major tech trends that are going to impact us, we’ve examined just some of the possibilities in just a few industries. That’s because the potential is enormous. We would have to write book-sized article to explore it all completely in depth.

The idea is to get us all, as designers, thinking about where we could find a place in this landscape that will soon be upon us.

As a designer where do you think you will fit in in the future?

Do share your thoughts in the comments below and don’t forget to check out Part 1 of this article.


Design Strategy, Trends

Twenty years ago we sat on the cusp of the mobile phone revolution. The advancement in technology at the time opened up endless possibilities for designers from various fields. From new possibilities for existing design disciplines – product designers for example – to entirely new design job profiles, like application designers, the design world was headed towards a new era.

Today we sit on the cusp of another revolution. Advancements in technology today are paving the way for virtual, augmented and mixed reality to become a part of everyday life. Where does this leave designers? What is the current scenario and going forward, what are the new roles where designers will be able to add tremendous value? What are the skills that designers should begin to hone?

In this article, we take a look at the overall scenario, and in the following week, we will take a specific look at certain industries, to see what the future could hold. If you are a designer, perhaps the time is ripe to ask yourself – Am I ready?


In case you’re not absolutely familiar with the terminology, here’s a succinct explanation from Wikipedia that sums it up nicely:

Virtual Reality (VR) immerses users in a fully artificial digital environment.
Augmented Reality (AR) overlays virtual objects on the real-world environment.
Mixed Reality (MR) doesn’t just overlay, but anchors virtual objects to the real world and allows the user to interact with the virtual objects.

Besides our smartphones and tablets, hardware such as Google Glass and Microsoft HoloLens present us with a whole new range of possibilities. Coupled with this, is the soon-to-be-ubiquitous 5G and the yet-to-be-realised potential of IoT, which push the boundaries even further.


The obvious roles for designers are in the more areas of traditional design, like graphic design, user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design.
But beyond this, more and more designers are finding a spot at the biggest decision making tables across organisations, and not just at those within the design sector. With design thinking as a process gaining more popularity, the huge value a designer can add in helping to arrive at truly impactful and viable solutions is being recognised.

Companies are putting designers at the head of the table…The user’s experience of technology these days is even more important than the tech itself. The UI is what distinguishes a product; a company. That’s one reason why designers are being employed across industries.

– Scott Belsky,
Chief Product Officer, Adobe
Co-founder, Behance

Venture design services that incorporate the design thinking framework, where problems are looked at from a macro level, and proposed design solutions are crafted from end user insights along with other factors in their environment, will come to play an important role.

An interdisciplinary approach that views the problem from various angles and seeks the inputs of experts from different disciplines will lead to the most comprehensively designed solutions. For example, when planning a commercial building, an architect would create a more effective design if he clearly understood the market segment he was designing for, the demographics of the area and the needs of each specific age group of the end users.

This would require intensive research and an in depth analysis by the architect, requiring him to go beyond his domain and should ideally be a collaborative effort with other experts, such as a social anthropologist or social psychologist.

Furthermore, venture design enabled through design thinking, allows the business to discover and tap into latent needs that the end user might not even realise he has, leading to a more comprehensive solution. With technology evolving at a speed that’s hard to keep up with, organisations will have to integrate new solutions rapidly. Venture design helps firms focus on the right thing at the right time, to take advantage of opportunities when they arise and to constantly deliver meaningful solutions. It also addresses the need for adaptability and answering the “what ifs”, by providing pivot strategies that enable the business to move or change the direction of their solutions to better fit the end user’s requirements, as they evolve.

Designers who wish to be at the forefront of pathbreaking designs, will have to engage in continuous learning and experimentation, to be able to understand, manipulate and employ new technology optimally.

The designers of the future need to look beyond just their field of speciality and also remind themselves to understand things from the point of view of a layman using that product or service. Design, be it of a product, space, user experience or of an organisation can no longer be looked at in isolation, if it is to be truly impactful.

As a designer, are you ready for the impending revolution that is upon us?

What are your thoughts – we’d love to know in the comments below.


Brand Strategy

The goal of Design Thinking is to develop solutions that create value within a given context.

As science advances, perceptions change and progress takes place, the requirement of the end user changes as well.

Isn’t it pertinent then to regularly re-evaluate the relevance of an existing design in its current context? Especially if it is one that has been around for a while?

This is what ignites the flame of innovation. Here are three examples of re-branding done intelligently and that spark a deep connect with their respective audiences.

Towards Inclusivity – The International Symbol for Access (ISA)

As the ISA – a white figure in a wheelchair against a blue background – celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, McCann London has launched its Visibility93 campaign to address the sign’s relevance in today’s context.

Over the past 50 years, advances in science and people’s perceptions have led to us as a society slowly recognising that a person in a wheelchair is not necessarily indicative of someone with a disability. From physical disabilities like arthritis to mental ones such as schizophrenia, ‘invisible’ disabilities can often be overlooked and suitable access denied. The Visibility93 campaign was launched by McCann to shed light on this and to reimagine the sign as one that is more inclusive.

The Visability93 campaign includes a suite of custom typeface that can be freely downloaded from the campaign website, as can a free poster, to raise awareness of the same.

Why the number 93? According to Sport England, 93% of the people living with disabilities do not in fact use a wheelchair. McCann wanted to draw focus to this eye-opening statistic.

The original disability sign, designed by Danish student Susanne Koefoed in 1968 played a huge role in raising awareness and promoting empathy, acceptance and a change in perception. But even the best of designs must take heed of the zeitgeist and readapt itself to become meaningful and relevant in its current context.

Making Growth Fun – Social Mobility Foundation

The Social Mobility Foundation in England, is a charity that works towards improving the lives of young people from low income and minority sections of society, by helping them gain an entry into good universities and on to the career paths of their choice.

Jones Knowles Ritchie (JKR), which worked on the project for free, has rebranded the organisation to be more in tune with the target audience – a young, Internet savvy, always-online community. The new identity is playful and inclusive.

Keeping in mind that online platforms are a big marketing channel for the organisation, JKR developed animated branding, which you can see below – it’s playful, attractive, clever and representative of upward mobility. The missing ‘o’ concept was extended to promotional and marketing material.

The firm was also cleverly able to transfer the missing ‘o’ concept into static print material, such as posters, brochures and t-shirts.

While developing the redesign, JKR worked within certain constraints. For example, it didn’t alter the existing identity to an extent that it would no longer be recognisable as that of the organisation’s. It made subtle tweaks instead, such as retaining the original colour palette of pink, purple and white, but opting for slightly brighter shades. It also kept in mind that running costs across brand extensions should be kept to a minimum to make it a viable proposition for the charity. So a free typeface that is readily available on Apple and Microsoft systems was chosen, while existing photographs from the charity’s own vast database were used for impactful imagery.

Depicting the Role of Women in 2018 – Girl Guides, UK

The role of women in today’s society is vastly different from what it was a 109 years ago, when the concept of Girlguiding was born. For over 100 years, the organisation has been encouraging girls and women between the ages of 15 to 25 to “learn new skills, work as part of a team or as a leader, and complete projects for social or charitable causes.” The Guides are split into 4 categories based on age (plus the Senior section for those aged 14 to 25). Guides can earn accomplishment badges in a skill or an area of interest by completing certain (age appropriate) challenges. The brand’s redesign which was developed by Red Studio, focused on a new look and feel for the badges and the corresponding award books and handbooks. It also incorporates the addition of new skills to the Guides’ repertoire, such as Coding, Inventing, Human Rights and Festival Go-ing.

The badges are current, appealing and appropriate to all the Guide age groups. One of the main outcomes of this re-design is that the new badges have a more “permanent” feel to them – they can be sewn onto jackets, caps, blankets etc. as keepsakes, evoking the feelings of achievement and belonging, as well as nostalgia in the years to come.

While the colour palette for for all the age groups is the same, the books for the two younger groups focus more on the colours and contain illustrations; the use of colour in the books for the two older groups is more pared down and photographs instead of illustrations are used.

The examples highlighted here have added value to existing designs by making them relevant to their current audience, in their current context, without taking away from the core of what each brand has stood for over many years.

Design Thinking focuses on human-centered design that truly adds value to the end user. Do you have a brand identity that needs re-imagining for today’s world? Using the framework of Design Thinking, Zeitgeist can help you design and develop a Brand Strategy that can take your business to the next level. Reach out today!

Gitanjali Singh Cherian
Marketing Manager

Image and information source:


Design Strategy

Zeitgeist is a collective of design thinkers and strategists committed to elevating and enhancing human experiences. To understand how Zeitgeist came to find value in and incorporate the Design Thinking framework, read our earlier article by our Founder, Madhuri Rao

Be it developing a brand for a company, creating a meaningful space for a client or helping a startup idea go from concept to reality, Zeitgeist approaches each challenge against the backdrop of a Design Thinking framework.

The framework is, and allows us to develop solutions that are:


Designing for the end user lies at the heart of the Design Thinking framework. By employing multiple creative minds and expert opinions to achieve this, the solutions proposed are innovative. They may be simple or complex, but generally are ‘have not been thought of before’ ideas – original, fruitful and with very well defined value propositions. Further, rapid prototyping, which forms part of the framework, allows for a quick time to market, a key factor in innovations becoming successful.


Design Thinking doesn’t solve problems by addressing symptoms. It digs deep to arrive at the correct definition of the root cause of a problem, instead of immediately rushing to come up with a Band-Aid solution. By encouraging rapid prototyping, ideas can be quickly tested for effectiveness, rejected, tweaked or finalised.


Since Design Thinking is a holistic approach, taking into account various perspectives and potential influences, solutions are designed not only for the present, but acknowledge potential variables in the future as well.

The framework is also iterative; there is no ‘from point A to point Z’ process. It allows for flexible usage of the creative tools. Once the problem has been accurately defined, you can ideate, prototype and test various potential solutions with the end user numerous times until an optimum one has been arrived at. Design Thinking understands that first ideas don’t always have to be the best ones!


Design Thinking nudges you to immerse yourself into the lives of the people you are designing for, using tools like The Five Whys and Card Sorting. It is only once you truly understand what makes them tick, what their pain points are and what brings them joy that you can begin to consider coming up with solutions that would be truly valuable to them.


In depth research forms a major part of the process leading up to ideation.

Research into the end users and the social, political, economic and environmental context within which a solution is being proposed ensures a holistic view of the problem today and in the future.


Design Thinking aims to address the problem from the entire journey of the end user, and multiple potential innovations in the process. As mentioned in the earlier point, the problem is looked at up close, but also from a bird’s eye view, giving it context and taking that context into consideration while developing a solution.


Since Design Thinking takes a holistic viewpoint, it must be collaborative in order to be successful. Only through multiple perspectives of all the parties affected by the problem can an effective outcome be achieved. And only by engaging with experts can information that is relevant and up to date be factored in. Design Thinking encourages and supports co-creation endeavours.


The Design Thinking framework encourages out of the box thinking, using techniques like Brainstorming and Mash-Ups. No initial idea is too ridiculous or far fetched to be considered. When the mind is free to work without constraints, the sky truly is the limit, especially when one is secure in the knowledge that the prototyping and testing phases will reveal how feasible and effective an idea is.


A solution arrived at using Design Thinking is one that aims to minimise negative impact – in finding a solution, it doesn’t create more new problems. It looks to optimally utilise resources and always takes into consideration the long terms impact of a proposed solution. It is why Zeitgeist also believes that Design Thinking is an excellent framework with which to develop solutions for positive social impact.

Zeitgeist can help you use the Design Thinking framework to arrive at optimal design solutions for your company – whether you are a startup, an established firm looking to turn things around, or looking to design new solutions for the future that are truly impactful and meaningful – reach out to us today.


Space Design

Making a render photorealistic is every 3D artist’s ultimate goal. In every rendering process good lighting and materials are essential.
Here are 10 simple tips for creating photo realistic renders.

Begin with choosing a scene or inspiration and build the scene with the relevant models. The first step is to define your focal point – focal point means the function of the render – what function are you trying to show? In our example we are trying to show the function of the bay window as a potential reading and coffee drinking space, a time for reflection, respite, or to get lost in thought – so the objective of the render must clearly be defined from a functional standpoint.

Furthermore, you should spend time modelling objects carefully to achieve a realistic form, otherwise you will end up having an object that looks more like a toy.

1. Materials and Maps

Material properties are very important in photorealistic rendering. Playing around with Reflection, Glossiness and Specularity of materials such as metal, wood or glass can make your render very realistic.

Make sure your textures are perfectly mapped and use reflection, bump and specular maps for the respective objects. For example, giving a bump, reflection and adding a specular map will create realistic properties for the wooden objects in your render.

2. Lighting

Always Use a 3-Point Light System – Key light, Fill light and Back light

Key Light – This is the main light. It is usually the strongest and has the most influence on the look of the scene.
Fill Light – This is the secondary light and is placed on the opposite side of the key light. It is used to fill the shadows created by the key.
Back Light – The back light is placed behind the subject and lights it from the rear, rather than providing direct lighting (like the Key and Fill).
The above image shows only lighting elements activated.

3. Run Test Renderings at Low Quality to Save Time

High quality rendering will slow down your rendering time. So for testing purposes always opt for low quality rendering, until you get the required perfection in your render.

Don’t put all the lights in the scene on at one time; carefully add them one by one, depending on your scene. Set your render engine to a low resolution to give you a snapshot of the final output.

4. Use X-Ref

While working with huge scenes, divide the scene into different areas and save them individually in a different 3ds Max file to work on easily. Then bring them into a single file to render them all together at the end.
Working on X-Ref objects before bringing them into your main scene helps avoid losing render performance when the scene has lots of geometry. This saves a lot of time!

5. Use HDRI Maps

To create a realistic environment I use HDRI maps. This gives realistic material properties like reflection, refraction, specularity and light to your render. Once you select the HDRI map that best suits the scene, use it as your V-Ray environment map along with a V-Ray dome light for best practice.

In the image above, you can see how applying a realistic background, puts the scene in a realistic context by using HDRI maps.

6. Subdivision Value

Realism comes with soft shadows. Use good subdivision values for every light in the scene to create smooth shadows. You can find the subdivision value for lights, materials and GI in the settings. Typically, 32 is the average subdivision value that works best with lighting and global illumination.

7. Use Denoiser

Denoiser can save a lot of rendering time. It reduces the noise in the render and helps smooth light and shadows. It brings realism in the render, because noise makes the render unrealistic.

It is really useful in closed room rendering, because you will find more noise in closed or dark interior rendering. Denoiser is a very powerful tool to reduce noise and creates a clean, smooth shadows in the render.

8. Use Depth of Field

Depth of Field creates a fantastic camera effect. It allows you to create a focal point in your shot, called the Focal Plane. This enables a blurring effect on everything outside the Focal Plane, creating an image that looks photorealistic as seen above.

9. Use Vray Frame Buffer – (VFB)

Vray Frame Buffer has very powerful features in it such as Rendering History, Colour Correction and Lense Effect, to name a few.

Rendering History, for instance, allows you to compare the current render with previous render to observe the changes you have made. This would include things like lighting, GI, Camera etc.
Colour Correction allows for small tweaking to enhance the realism in the render.
Lense Effect creates different opportunities to showcase your render.

10. Post-Production in Photoshop

Post-Production is a very powerful tool to change the whole look and feel of the Render. It’s completely up to you to use it within the scene. For example, adding the Motion Blur and Lense Flare effects for dramatic feel, using Blending modes for texture, adding Smoke and Fire etc.

Certain things are either very difficult or very time consuming to pull off in 3Ds max. Adding these effects does them in a jiffy and can go a long way toward bringing an image to life.

Althaf Khan
3D Visualiser


Business Development
Swimming In An Ocean of Change

Returning to a full time job after a gap of 5 years can be a daunting task for anyone, more so if you’re in the Marketing game.

When I joined Zeitgeist a year ago after my “baby-hiatus” I didn’t realise just how much the Marketing game had changed.
The last time I checked, Facebook was being used to reconnect with my school friends who I hadn’t met in 15 years, not as one of the biggest marketing tools the 21st century has seen yet. And just who were these “millennials”? And how was I ever going to understand what made them tick?
How did I ever get any work done before, without being part of an office WhatsApp group?

It’s not that Facebook was alien to me; and of course I knew all about WhatsApp, but I hadn’t realised just how much a part of work culture and business communications these tools had become. Not one who was particularly fond of social media, I soon realised that I definitely had to join ‘em and not beat ‘em if I were to survive as a Marketing professional.

A New Way of Thinking

A year on, I’ve survived, but I do learn something new every single day. And that’s been my biggest takeaway – that today changes in the field of Marketing happen so rapidly, you have to be on the ball all the time.

It hit me the most when the guru of Marketing, Philip Kotler – whose books I devoured in college and referred to regularly in the earlier part of my career – released his Marketing 4.0 in 2017, in which he openly refutes many of his own ‘rules’ of Marketing from just a couple of decades ago. Incidentally, that book is a great place to start, to understand what you’re up against as far as Marketing in the 21st Century (or at least the next few years!) goes.

What’s the Most Important Skill Marketing Professionals Need Today?

I would say it’s adaptability. Technology is going to lead to new tools and new ways of working, with unprecedented changes bombarding you at a pace that is hard to keep up with. (In the few weeks since I’ve started writing this piece itself, the world’s view on Facebook has altered a fair bit! And that’s big!)

But the good news is that learning how a new technology works is not that hard; the resources to do so are easily accessible – usually at the click of a button. The real test will be how well you will be able to adapt new technology to your job as a Marketer. Choosing which aspects of emerging trends and practices are the best for your particular role and rapidly making it work for you, is where the cleverness lies.

If you’re up for a challenge – and every marketer I know usually is – the not-so-distant future is going to be an exciting time for sure!

Gitanjali Singh Cherian
Marketing Manager