A new perspective

Let’s clean our glasses… it’s a beautiful world!

I think aesthetics are like paradigms. They start developing as soon as we are born, the things we see, the emotions we feel, the colors we taste, the smell we hear. Like paradigms, aesthetics mostly changes and adapts itself to the environment and to the society.

While working with various designers and clients, I seem to notice that the less you know about design, the more your individual aesthetics sense comes to the forefront. For example, a couple of years ago a client of mine was quite adamant to use the color red in his poster which was for his spa.

It seemed to clash with my tinted aesthetics sense – databases of colour theory knowledge – using peaceful soothing blues to denote peace, calmness; lighter shade of blue would also reflect pureness, lightness and tranquility. But how was I to convince this client?

So when I asked him, he said, and I politely quote, “I want to use red because it stands out.”

I guess every person in the design industry must have heard this line. RED – red stands out. It stands out probably because after this color no other color can be seen by the naked human eye, because after red everything becomes infrared.

It’s probably the first color we see in the womb, the color we are made of, the color of our mum’s bindi, anything to do with vanity, the garish scar on the knee, the color fail written on your paper, the road signs, the road blocks, the big fat Indian wedding bride, love – not only on Valentine’s day, anything and everything that wants to stand out.

So what is wrong if this poor chap wants a red poster for his spa just because he wants it to stand out? Are you going to make him remove his paradigm glasses which he built since he could see, to put on someone else glasses whose standing out color was say black because of all the sin he’s seen and the music he’s heard? Are we supposed to swap paisleys and baroque with pickachoos in the future?

You may say it is individuality. But how do we communicate this to a society with norms and regulations? Isn’t that why we created global standards? Everything has a standard to live up to nowadays; it’s easier to work with standards too. Write books, back it up with theories, publicize it with blogs, and bang! It’s sold. You have a million people following it like moths to a light.

The easiest example I guess is the term web 2.0. Oh! It’s hilarious- the number of people using the term these days to fit their own understanding. Interfaces, fonts, colors, usability – everything has started becoming a clone of everything, under the huge umbrella of web 2.0. Buttons in 80% of web pages remain the same, glossy, double shaded ‘web 2.0’.

From where I see, web 2.0 is a paradigm too. When a designer comes up with say, a better button – not necessarily glossy or double shaded – it gets immediately shot down by people like us in the industry who have gotten used to certain ways of looking at things and relating to things. We don’t like changes because it takes a helluva long a time to adapt, right? Then we get this factory one-size-fits-all design out, and boom! The client buys it because it looks very much like the benchmark website.

Impact of red colorIt easier said than done to create your own benchmarks, but we need to see brands as individuals and not succumb to the client’s personal aesthetic sensibilities. The client probably will quit a couple of years later, but the brand will live on forever.  As designers I think it’s our responsibility to get good functional designs out, and educate clients about designs – on the need to use a particular color, font, image.

Now, we go back to aesthetic sensibilities. As designers we need to feed our brain with all sorts of imagery to constantly change our glasses which are our inspiration. One’s foundation of design sensibilities should not be trends and fads – it should be balance, rhythm, harmony, functionality.

Finally, let me sum it up with: lizard brain is what black is to fashion like blue is to corporates. But we aren’t all wearing black right now, are we? Check and see just in case! :)

127 Responses

  1. Akansha
    October 3, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    love the way you have put across the argument. It is sometimes difficult to explain the clients why you are using a particular pattern, design or font because that is where the natural aesthetic sense clashes with the trained and the experienced one. Color red definitely stands out but does not go easy on the eyes and mind, and for a brochure, its not really a good idea unless it is for a one time read.Because it will have the retaining power but is very uncomfortable to the eyes.
    Red has a lot of associations, devil vs love, bold vs blood, strong spirit vs aggression. passion vs ruthlessness, though contradictory, they are all signified by red.

  2. pankaj
    August 8, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    title takes me the journey to oldies. I found one special song there which suits to this blog. “kehta hai joker sara jamana! aadhi hakikat aadha fasana!! chashma utaro fir dekho yaaro! duniya nai hai ham bhi naye!!!”. Yes it’s pure perception game.

  3. Nidhi
    July 12, 2010 at 3:18 pm


    Love your style of wriitung. very engaging and well thought out. Red is the color we associate with extreme emotions, nothing subtle. And also our own thoughts and asscociations color our views. But love your argument on what makes something aesthetically appealing…

    1. July 12, 2010 at 5:28 pm

      I’m glad you read it! i was just reading through your blog this morning, now i understand why “woods”… :) looking forward to the next party :)

  4. Prarthana
    July 7, 2010 at 11:50 am

    Hi Muki,
    Indeed RED stands out and that RED PEPPER is what caught my attention the first time too !!!

  5. Felix
    July 6, 2010 at 11:50 pm

    Good read, from a designers perspective; however isnt there a phrase/aphorism which comes out as ‘the customer is always right’? Balance, rhythm, harmony and functionality, yes. But the truth is we need our clients, no matter what effing colour combo they conjure :)

    1. July 12, 2010 at 5:19 pm

      hehe, yes true

  6. Sakti
    July 3, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    The way u have harmonized the flow of symbolism to the different stages of life with the sense of human feelings and notion is really very heart touching…..its really a good one.

    1. July 12, 2010 at 5:18 pm

      Thank you for reading Sakti!

  7. Uttam Puthran
    July 3, 2010 at 12:24 am

    Wow it made a good read !! While reading through could not help but relate your blog to Steven Covey’s 7 habits of highly effective people. To understand certain things/emotions is a giant step forward to know you are wearing glasses … let alone clean them !! Keep up the excellent thinking/writing …

    1. July 12, 2010 at 5:17 pm

      Thanks Uttam!

  8. Muki
    July 2, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    Rhythm, harmony, functionality. I think these three can create a WOW.

    FYI: You may not like to use RED for the SPA. But i am sure you are gonna enjoy the Red roses in the LEELA SPA next week.

    1. July 12, 2010 at 5:16 pm

      yes i am :P

  9. July 2, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    Eye-opening, Khushboo!
    It’s very important that clients sometimes see the designers’ perspective. They hardly spend time on it because they are lost in their worlds and they don’t know what they are missing out on!
    Thanks for the cake :)

    1. July 12, 2010 at 5:13 pm

      your welcome:)

  10. Seema Puthran
    July 2, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    Very well written Khushboo.
    “The client is king.”This applies to all industries-be it design, banking or software.
    As a creative person,you may often get caught in a situation wherein you cant decide whether to give in to your creative urges or listen to the client.
    As your dad says,”At times you have to swim with the tide.”
    If everyone changes glasses constantly,the world would be such a beautiful place!

    1. July 2, 2010 at 8:54 pm

      Thanks seema im glad you read it !

  11. Suhas
    July 2, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Way to go Khushboo!! really nice..

    m/ RED m/

    1. July 2, 2010 at 8:53 pm

      Thanks Su!

  12. Gopal C S
    July 2, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    Good flow in writing. Thanks, Gopal

    1. July 2, 2010 at 8:52 pm

      Thanks Gopal!

  13. wsm
    July 2, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Nice one.. I liked the examples..

    1. July 2, 2010 at 8:52 pm

      Thanks Waseem :)

  14. Guru Prasad K
    July 2, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.

    Well written blog, made for a good read.

    1. July 2, 2010 at 8:51 pm

      Thanks Guru ! Hope to see you in office soon

  15. Jyothi
    July 2, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Red is the colour of obsession. I once painted my nails red and then brought red lipstick, matching accessories, red stilletoes, red bag, even downloaded the song lady in red, and then when I thought I should be changing the colour of my car, i knew I was going too far! It was easier to remove the nail polish than get my car painted red, so I went home and dashed the darn Manish Malhotra red nail polish against the stone, and only then I felt liberated! Just thinking about my crimson binge gives me a scarlet fever!

    1. July 2, 2010 at 8:50 pm

      love the ‘crimson binge gives me a scarlet fever’ line jyo

  16. July 2, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    Paradoxical it might seem but actually very true.
    Ozzy got a Grammy for
    “I don’t wanna change the world
    I don’t want the world to change me”

    Do we have an answer to that here?

    Like the analogies you have mentioned.
    Great read overall.

    Look forward to more.

    1. Alice
      July 2, 2010 at 3:34 pm

      What the heck Shankha, where did Ozzy come from, are you on dope? Then gimme a buzz.
      Hey Khushboo, nice blog ya… and agree with you, and Shankha too… But it takes time to make your mark. Wish you all the luck. Nice blog from a designer’s perspective.

      1. July 2, 2010 at 8:46 pm

        Thank you Alice

    2. July 2, 2010 at 8:46 pm

      Nice Shankha

  17. subho
    July 2, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    The new BOO for us huh!!!

    I don’t understand design that much so won’t comment on that…but would def say that everyone of us wan to be different and like u said we wanna stand out…its the human nature i guess…n we do it in our own personalized way…

    And coming to the color RED, for sure stands out…i say it from the point that I am a Manchester United and Ferrari fan…n we all know they stand out :)

    Also why go that far even for us pepper in RED stands out…people notices it…its a great conversation starter..

    but saying that I think individuality is sumthn we all appreciate…n that’s a very personal thn…as we all relate to different thns in our own way..

    Bottom line its all about how we define thns to ourselves..

    Good stuff Boo…N lemme know when we goin to Leela :)

    1. July 2, 2010 at 8:45 pm

      Whenever Hon !

  18. Akshata
    July 2, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    its a nice article:)

    1. July 2, 2010 at 8:44 pm

      Thanks Akshata

  19. July 2, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    Nicely written. Great!!!

    You are talking…

    1. July 2, 2010 at 8:43 pm

      :) glad you liked it

  20. July 2, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    beautifully written…and amazing to see your love for red :)

    1. July 2, 2010 at 8:43 pm

      Thank you Manik!

  21. July 2, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    Good one! and very true…. looks like google will eventually take over the world tho! and we are going to have a “standard” way of living as prescribed by google

    Insightful to say the least!

    1. July 2, 2010 at 8:42 pm

      Thank you for reading Tejas

  22. Neha Shetty
    July 2, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Insightful…..all said & done…there are very few who would dare to b different!!!

    1. July 2, 2010 at 8:42 pm

      true :P

  23. Ameen
    July 2, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    I see RED RED RED all the way from Dubai!
    *thumbs up*

    1. July 2, 2010 at 8:41 pm

      Thanks :)

  24. Inderdeep Cheema
    July 2, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Red is also color of Happiness and festival in China.

    and vinit after red wine does everything seem infrared????????????????

    1. July 2, 2010 at 8:41 pm


  25. Vinit
    July 2, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    hmmmmmmmmmmm…… i can only think of red as my favorite wine!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. July 2, 2010 at 8:40 pm


  26. Ambili
    July 2, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    “WORLD” will look beautiful or in other words, you will feel its beauty, only when you are happy and others are satisfied.

    Just showcase or think how can you make it happen.

    Its all about changing your vision……..rest everything moves on good……
    Glasses too…..

    And then, it will be a beautiful world!!!

    1. July 2, 2010 at 8:40 pm

      Thanks for commenting

  27. Nitish
    July 2, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    nice post,

    keep it up …..and keep sending us good posts..

    1. July 2, 2010 at 8:37 pm

      ill try :P

  28. simon dutta
    July 2, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    The button example was nicely cited coz its the simplest thing that explains the whole huge issue. We designers are supposed to be innovative not just norm followers!

    1. July 2, 2010 at 8:36 pm

      true :)

  29. Balaguru
    July 2, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    RED alert!!

  30. Gaurav
    July 2, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Good insights. I like your many examples of the colour red. Never thought of the ‘F’ mark on our answer sheets! :)

    1. July 2, 2010 at 8:35 pm

      Thanks Gaurav!

  31. Aparna
    July 2, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Being a designer myself, I am faced with such situations. Thank you for letting others know what we think!

    1. July 2, 2010 at 8:34 pm

      :) lol

  32. Varun
    July 2, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    Hi Khushboo,

    Good read. Looking forward to more.

    1. July 2, 2010 at 8:34 pm

      Thanks Varun!

  33. Kshitij
    July 2, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    I think, people who don’t know anything about importance of each and every element of design, should be hanged till death as he starts delivering his “fundae”.

  34. manas modi
    July 2, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    ya, i agree with your opinion on aesthetics and design. i being in the same industry have also faces such situations. clients have their aspirations and we have our own beliefs. but i think there lies the actual challenge! we have to find a solution that suits every aspect and fulfills it overall purpose.


    1. July 2, 2010 at 8:29 pm

      ya i guess that’s the challenge , thanks for commenting manas!

  35. Rajdeep
    July 2, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    Creative freedom does not always work together. While one’s own creativity should be respected, I feel that client’s demands can’t be neglected at times as that would mean losing business. Several of my friends in the Ad world suffer from frustration as they feel that their creativity is being infringed by unreasonable demands from the client. But I guess, if we look at our creative past, some our most satisfying moments will be when we made our first sketch as a child or built our first sand castle or our first bicycle ride. What I mean to say is our creative hunger gets satisfied only when we do something out of out free will.

    It’s a nice read. Keep posting.

    1. July 2, 2010 at 8:19 pm

      Thanks Rajdeep

  36. El Davis
    July 2, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Does one stand out from the crowd or does one run with the herd? I think everyone begins by running with the herd and then non conformism calls – the same call that made icons out of Warhol, Pollock and Laurent. To hear that call, we need to, as one design genius told me, “Know the rules, before you can break them.”

    1. July 2, 2010 at 8:18 pm

      i think i know who the genius is ;P

  37. July 2, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    hey! nice blog..

    1. July 2, 2010 at 8:17 pm


  38. July 2, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    I guess designers have to be sometimes like chameleons when they work, which changes colors as it suits :)

    nevertheless customers should be educated on whats best for them and let them decide what they want ..ultimately customer is the ATM for us :)

    1. July 2, 2010 at 8:17 pm

      hehe yes they are

  39. July 2, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    Aawwwwwsome article!!! love it!! great job Khushboo!

    1. July 2, 2010 at 8:16 pm

      Thanks for readin pearlu :)

  40. Kirana
    July 2, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    nice one….

    1. July 2, 2010 at 8:16 pm

      Thanks Kirana

  41. Arun VJ
    July 2, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    This one again asked me to think for a while before you do something.
    Now that’s a good way to say Followers are far behind the Innovators…
    When someone comes up to you and says something, gives instructions and asks “do you follow me”. That’s when you need to say “understood but will have to think about it”. Mere following will never take you places, its the innovator inside you who needs to understand. How your innovation is going to help others…following will do no good other than helping yourself which is selfish.

    So keep innovating and be a trend setter..

    1. July 2, 2010 at 8:16 pm

      Love your insight Arun

  42. Pragya
    July 2, 2010 at 11:55 am

    I agree…creativity is individual prerogative and brand has to stand out as an individual..

    I am with you on your take :-)


    1. July 2, 2010 at 8:14 pm

      Thanks pragya

  43. Mahajan Shetty
    July 2, 2010 at 11:51 am

    I really like your view point as it gives us technical people an artistic look into the world of creative design. It helps us deal better with creative professionals.

    1. July 2, 2010 at 8:14 pm

      :) thank you Mahajan

  44. July 2, 2010 at 11:37 am


    Very well written post.. I agree with you about the need to educate people on designs that appeal to their customers v/s designs that appeal to the clients themselves (in case of contradictions). Design is a core function in driving sustainability and overall customer loyalty.

    Will look forward to readimg more from you.

    1. July 2, 2010 at 11:43 am

      Thanks for reading Sonali!

  45. Jyothi
    July 2, 2010 at 11:36 am

    Artistic freedom is one thing and business sense is another. But what binds the two is the colour of courage which is red.

    1. July 2, 2010 at 11:39 am

      True ! Thanks Jyo!

  46. Ravi
    July 2, 2010 at 11:34 am

    Great going khushboo…..

    Its true that its unorthodox to do something new that is completely out of the box …….but people have succeeded to change this world through there ideas ……and ideas of past is what has become a paradigm for our present…….they will always be there but will keep evolving ……….

  47. July 2, 2010 at 11:21 am

    So true. Makes sense. I never thought abt this till I read your piece.

    All the best

    1. July 2, 2010 at 11:36 am

      :) Thanks cronin

    2. Anoushka Barpujari
      July 2, 2010 at 12:43 pm

      fantastic article! so true…very well written..thoughtful response :)

  48. Julia
    July 2, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Hey, Nice blog Khushboo…

    I keep thinking about the same… you just put it into words in the best possible way…

    Loved it…

    1. July 2, 2010 at 11:36 am

      Thanks a lot Julia :)

  49. Fakrudin
    July 2, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Nice one its like “catch one’s eye”

    1. July 2, 2010 at 11:36 am

      Thankyou Fakrudin

  50. Manju
    July 2, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Absolutely true. nice article

    1. July 2, 2010 at 11:37 am

      Thank you Manju

  51. Thomson
    July 2, 2010 at 11:11 am

    “Good design is good business”, but no patience!

    1. July 2, 2010 at 11:37 am


  52. Lissy
    July 2, 2010 at 11:09 am

    It is true and correct…

  53. July 2, 2010 at 11:07 am

    Khushboo this is a great post.

    “We don’t know what we want… but that’s not It.” is another one :)

    Even once I had a similar situation with client, at least 60% of this happened to me. It was not related to Web Design, all my online marketing strategy, recommendations & SEO proposals are rejected by one argument: I don’t care. I pay, you do what I say! Well client is consulting proof.

    1. July 2, 2010 at 11:38 am

      Gosh! thats an experience :)

  54. July 2, 2010 at 11:05 am

    its pretty nice!

  55. Reshma
    July 2, 2010 at 10:42 am

    I agree.. Symbolization and generalization do go hand in hand and become very difficult habits to break ..Any deviations would immediately be looked upon as unorthodox . Having said that it is true that many such ‘rebels’ go on to become cult beginnings..

    Very Intresting Khushboo .. Makes u wonder whether roses should really be always be red and whether the sky should be colored blue

  56. Vivek Pinto
    July 2, 2010 at 10:32 am

    Aesthetics are giving way to personal opinions and this is seen in the way clients approach design. Personal tastes have no place in a corporate culture and a corporate aesthetic sense is brought about by experience and placing yourself in the shoes of the brand icon. It’s very rare that a brand icon is an individual (take the case of Steve Jobs).

    When you talk about creating benchmarks, you need to keep in mind the organizational sensibilities while trying to be different. Its a tightrope walk, but WTH, as creative agents that’s our cup of tea, isn’t it?

    1. July 2, 2010 at 10:35 am

      yes it is :) thanks vivek

  57. abhiraj
    July 2, 2010 at 10:12 am

    Its a nice thought that you have presented. It seems you are quite tired of being in paradigms!! but what i have learnt through time is that these conventions are necessary to follow in order to evolve to another level ……..its not the change that we need but evolution is the desired goal……

    I don’t agree with your perspective completely coz i think paradigms are something tested with time, and anything new we add in is just the evolution of it.

    But really like the way you have presented your idea ……example u set forth were really out of the box…….keep going!

    1. July 2, 2010 at 11:41 am

      Interesting Insight Abhi!

  58. Bahnik
    July 2, 2010 at 1:07 am

    Very true… as individuals clamped up with ideologies passed on to us thru generations, we have always seen what is expected of us and not what we wish to… And that’s probably why we would always see a half full glass of water, half empty…, an orange always in orange and not red… (Whew!!! sounds preachy to me though…)

    Newayz… time is changing and so are we. Great going Khushboo… a nice piece to read. Keep it up!!!

    1. July 2, 2010 at 10:07 am

      Thanks Bahnik. Im glad you read it :)

  59. Abhishek
    July 1, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    True..nice one..

    1. July 2, 2010 at 10:08 am

      Thankyou Abhishek!

  60. Kumar Salian
    July 1, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    Yes, it is a valid point well articulated but that is not the only thing for the survival of a business. Most of the time you have to swim with the tide.

    1. July 2, 2010 at 10:09 am

      Love your insight dad!

  61. Khushaal
    July 1, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    i see Red people..

    1. July 2, 2010 at 11:40 am

      Very Red

      1. Khushaal
        July 2, 2010 at 12:29 pm

        very bread!

  62. Adarsh
    July 1, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    What you have written is a paradox, but yet factual and somehow a sort of a thumb-rule that generations after generations and species after species have followed. Having said that doesn’t mean somebody cant stop one from looking things slightly unconventionally. Problem is they would then termed a wannabe Einstein.

    Guess Paradox it is that maybe you leave us all to think about with your log.

    Great Read….

    1. July 2, 2010 at 10:11 am

      Thanks Adarsh ! Glad you read it !

  63. Aman
    July 1, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    nice 1…..
    But i would like to add to this that why don’t we are allowed to see through our eyes only,why we are always taught to see the things as we are seeing it from someone else’s eye,
    according to me there’s is no definition of beauty then why everyone is running after creating one for others to follow.

    Anyways change is the law of nature and we should stick to it
    coz CHANGE IS GOOD, and if we are a designer better change or perish…..

    Keep writing ….waiting for some more interesting stuff….

    1. July 2, 2010 at 10:10 am

      Thanks Aman! will miss you when you leave:)

      1. Aman
        July 2, 2010 at 11:10 am

        me too…… :)

        1. Dina
          July 2, 2010 at 11:44 am

          Me three! And Justin Beiber too!

          1. Aman
            July 2, 2010 at 6:11 pm

            Hehehe…….thank you guys for making these 2 months so special,
            one of my life’s most productive 2 months, i would say..
            Learnt a whole lot of new things,was exposed to the corporate world,apart from this you gals really keep the environment electrified with ya activities.

            Keep it up guys (sry gals) ;) …..

            M/ U SIMPLy ROKK M/

  64. Dina
    July 1, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    I agree colourfully! Right from kindergarten, we are taught to colour apples red and trees green; well within the outlines. Our imagination is clamped right there.
    Sigh. If only we could begin again…
    And yeah, a BIG shout out to you for making this a lovely read! Go Khushboooo!

    1. July 2, 2010 at 10:10 am

      Thanks dini!

      1. Pavan
        July 2, 2010 at 1:51 pm

        Yes RED really stands out.. (VIBGYOR)