By Christian Manns
Even though three years have past since we started working for our client TVS, I remember the beginnings of the project as if it was yesterday. Because the way we got to know the client was very special. It was definitely one of the most impressive experiences of my career, and I feel like it’s worth sharing.
TVS, one of the biggest two-wheeler brands in India, invited us to their headquarter in Bangalore and, even more exciting, on a trip through the fascinating country of India.
With a team of six composed of professionals from strategy, brand design, brand environments, and client management, we flew to Bangalore, where we started our journey. Once we landed, the team split into two. One half would interview employees at the TVS headquarters in Bangalore; the other started a pretty huge road trip across the country to visit dealerships in several cities and rural areas. The idea was to learn as much about the people, culture, consumption habits, and infrastructural circumstances as possible in no more than weeks. Lucky me, I was one of the traveling guys.
Our route: From our starting point in the south, we headed west to Pune and took a trip to the rural area of Ahmednagar. From there we visited Kolkata in the northeast and Lucknow in the north, and took two small trips in the rural areas of Rae Barel and Bahraich near Nepal.
The journey across this incredibly large and colorful country was the perfect opportunity to get a deep understanding of our client’s needs and the challenges of the project, as well as the huge and diverse culture of India.
The zeitgeist and the design language in India strongly differentiates it from prevalent Central European design conceptions. Furthermore, India itself is extremely large and diverse. Even within the country there are numerous differences in language, food, and fashion, which are sometimes hardly noticeable to Europeans but need to be taken into consideration when creating a new design concept for a renowned country-wide brand like TVS.
After two busy but fascinating weeks of traveling, observing, interviewing, and documenting, we closed our research phase and returned to Berlin to start with the conceptional work. One of the first major TVS projects that landed on our table was the realization of a 600-square-meter booth for Indian Auto Expo 2014 in New Delhi, India’s biggest trade show for cars and two-wheelers.
The overall theme of our booth concept was “streamline” — the motif of streamlined shapes as an emotional expression of engineering. The shapes permeate the entire booth to create a dynamic expression and lead customers through the exhibits with a constant flow. This flow idea was definitely inspired by our travel experiences, because despite perceived obstacles such as traffic chaos, India never really stops.
The streamline motif turned out to be a huge success, so TVS asked us to design another booth twice as large for the show in 2016. Clearly the best proof of concept we could hope for!
For the 2016 show, we not only doubled the size of the booth but also created a large virtual realty space where visitors could jump on a motocross bike, wear Oculus Rift glasses, and drive a virtual motocross challenge. What a crazy ride! But although it made me feel woozy in the end, it was just as the journey through the country — definitely worth every minute.
Christian Manns is a senior designer at MetaDesign Berlin.