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PROFILE

Vivek Sahni offers ‘graphic solutions’ to every problem. Approach him with almost anything you want packed, packaged, designed or re-designed — and the ideas will begin to flow. You name it and he’s done it — repackaged products, designed brand logos and business cards, created book jackets for novels and art books and even churned out ultra-chic wedding invitations. Sahni would like to be known as the man who delivers more than what’s expected of him.

“I keenly observe everything around me because one little twist can make all the difference to the looks of a product,” says the nattily dressed Sahni as he settles down in the cool white environs of his south Delhi office.

The designer enjoys acquainting you — up, close and graphic — with his repertoire of designs and logos on his sleek desktop computer. It’s a world of projects going from lavish ‘sets’ for weddings to shampoo bottles conceived and designed by him and his Trinidadian business partner, Dave Chang.

Sahni has been in business for the last 14 years. Armed with a degree in graphic design from the famed Parsons School of Design in New York, he’s built a strong brand in his company that simply goes by his name — Vivek Sahni.

The real turning point for Sahni came in the ’90s when he took up a government project to give the staid Khadi Gram Udyog products a new look. The spiffy bottles that you now see on its shop shelves in Delhi come courtesy Sahni, who used and labelled recycled Chyawanprash and Catch Salt bottles for the required effect.

From the experience he acquired while working on the Khadi project, Sahni came up with the idea of his own line of Ayurvedic and beauty products which he named Kama. He launched Kama with three other partners — Chang, sugar baroness Rajshri Pathi and interior designer Vikram Goyal of Viya Home. Now Kama is being exported to Japan, Italy, France and England.

Since the time he started out, Sahni has garnered quite a fan-following. Hotshot fashion designers including Tarun Tahiliani, Malini Ramani and Rohit Bal are regular clients as are topnotch hotels like The Imperial in Delhi.

Trends

It’s boom time for the graphic designer, says Sahni. “Magazines might be folding up elsewhere in the world, in India you have a plethora of them. There are malls everywhere — and therefore shop windows to decorate. Also there is so much of everything — from food and fashion to auto parts — that require packaging and designing. The business is huge,” he says.

Trends in graphic design keep changing rapidly and cultural references pour in from across the world. According to him, the Internet has ushered in plenty of changes as well in the world of design. “There are a lot of cross-cultural references. Today, some Indian comics have Japanese-style graphics that are highly detailed,” Sahni says. But overall, it depends on the individual demands of clients and the trends too keep changing in different fields like art, fashion and more.

But sadly, the downturn in the economy has dictated that art books are a thing of the past. Sahni says: “They are a closed chapter. We used to earn considerable revenue from them but after the crash in the art market they are history.”

PROducts

The Vivek Sahni design sensibility is chic and non-fussy and brought together by the 20-strong team of design and sales professionals. It surfaces in the logo that Sahni designed for the Mehrangarh Museum Shop in Jodhpur and even more clearly in the sets that he and Chang designed for the Fendi and Dior launches in the country. They have a separate department that caters to only wedding clients.

Their pricing depends entirely on the job at hand. A book cover will cost the publisher between Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 — low by any standards. But that’s because Sahni considers books as prestige projects. “You like to see your name on the book cover so it really doesn’t matter if the money is nothing to write home about,” admits Sahni. A 200-page art book however used to earn his company lakhs.

It annoys him to have to explain his pricing. “I have to explain to people why they are paying what they are — and it’s not just for getting the job done but also for our expertise,” says Sahni. He says with a wave of his hand: “And just because you have a computer handy, it does not necessarily mean you can be a graphic designer. It’s much more than that.”

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