The Emotional Value

Design can be art. Design can be simple. That’s why it’s so complicated.” –Paul Rand

The Emotional Value

A team’s success relies on having a shared emotional connection to the task at hand. Consciously or subconsciously, the team must strongly believe in what they are striving to achieve.

In big fashion houses, this shared connection binds employees together. Fashion designers should start their work by recognizing the emotional value of what they want to create. That emotional value often sprouts out of a moment of inspiration or connection with a particular place or aesthetic. The emotional value can then be stretched out to a mood board and to silhouettes, fabrics, colours, and details, consequently shaping an intangible feeling into something with form.

Putting together a collection is a difficult process with many pieces. In part, this is because creative thinking is not unidirectional. It shoots three dimensionally in any direction around a starting point. That can be hard to control, which is why a mood board, inspiration board or a theme board, whatever one calls it, helps the designer remember that the feeling or emotion he or she started off with should be the Bible of the collection, the compass helping to push the work forward. When a designer feels lost or out of control, going back to the initial moment of inspiration helps remind him or her of the bones of the collection.

So we must realise and remember that a product is created on the background of a feeling(mood) that doesn’t exist in the physical realm. It is driven by the vision of using or interacting with the product.

“The role of the designer is that of a good, thoughtful host anticipating the needs of his guests” –Charles Eames

When a product does not live up to the expectations of the customer, challenges arise and fixes must be made. Take the case of a stiff shirt, for example. Giving an enzyme softener wash to the shirt helps it live up to the feeling we want it to engender in the wearer, one of comfort.

So we can say that we are actually catering to a certain set of consumer desires with our design work. The product is only a medium to cater to that feeling. When a customer responds to a product and sees its value, he or she will pull out their wallet to pay for that value. Or, in the case of online sales, order it.

If I want a winter jacket it has to “feel” warm. But I also want to “feel” fashionable in it. Ultimately, I may pick a black woolen overcoat because I “felt” it would fit in my wardrobe. The customer’s journey toward making a purchase is actually a journey of feeling.

This feeling can never be fully controlled, but we can nurture it by identifying what drives a customer forward. We can facilitate their journeys.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” –Leonardo da Vinci

This feeling (the emotional value) is important for designers to be conscious of. It helps them communicate with customers by creating products that buyers see value in.

Ads, hoardings, events, shows, and collaborations are all used to create the spark and generate awareness of a brand or product. But that is not enough to create a lasting impression or earn the customer’s trust.

“Art has always been summoned to advertise social ideas, religious beliefs, new philosophies and finally products (post industrial revolution).”

Physical retail spaces can brilliantly communicate a brand’s value and win customers’ trust. The store layout, the selection of styles/products, the visual merchandising, the store staff, the aesthetics of the space and even the packaging all contribute to a certain experience for customers, convincing them of a brand’s value.

This is the reason why Visual Merchandising has been such a key element for stores. The higher the product value, the richer the VM.

E.g. “Anthropologie”

This doesn’t stand very important for a price-point driven product, but they also will access it to beat the competition in their favour.

“presentation is everything”

The digital space is revolutionising the way we live and the way we shop. Through technology, the world is becoming a global village, but also a global marketplace.

Online stores must create impressive digital content in order to market themselves well and create that perceived value which drives traffic to their website, leading to sales.

Your website is the only thing that the customer has to get to know you better. The layout, the images, and the copy are all crucial pieces when enticing customers to buy your products.

Again, for a price conscious product, rich aesthetics is not primary as the customer is only concerned with getting the best price.

He or she doesn’t care about the layout or designs much. However, for a quality driven product, the presentation could be a game changer.

“The Universe is in Constant Motion”

Out of our five senses, we are limited to two senses on the screen: We can only hear and see. A brand must create content that caters to these two senses. That is the reason why video content is very important. A moving image is more engaging than a still image, unless one zooms in and focuses on something specific like texture, which occurs mostly on product websites. People zoom in to get a closer look, to fill in for the sense of touch and maybe even for smell and taste, depending on the product and the quality of the image. The takeaway from this point is that digital content has to be as life-like as possible, and typically, a moving image imitates life better than a still image.

“Art Imitates Life”

Apart from still images for catalog, the digital content for promotion has to be more story driven, representing life or a lifestyle more broadly. Today, the blog page of a brand has become a key element to engage audiences and also to push them to believe in the value the brand wants to create.

Examples: theoliostories.com, HUEMN, chubstr.com, mrporter.com, asos.com                

                                      “Good design is honest.” –Dieter Rams

Depending on what value the brand wants to create, and what the key strengths of the product are, digital content has to be integrated with other marketing techniques. Mostly, when stylists or art directors create content for websites, it is a superficial affair. They might be great visual artists and storytellers, but integrating the brand’s aesthetic or message with a specific product requires time spent with the people behind the product to understand what initially inspired them. Having a creative team that understands the brand’s vision is important for capturing the emotional value of a product and communicating that message to the customer.

“Integration has to be deep, sensitive and qualitative.”

By Sahdev Hooda

 

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Dusky endings.

The month of March had not even ended and the heat already made its presence felt. I travelled to the city of Jodhpur in Rajasthan, India. I stayed at the NIFT campus, located on the outskirts of the city, to take a few lectures on written communication and to hold a colour psychology workshop with Fashion Communication students at the centre. As much as I love teaching, or rather interacting with design students, the constant travel to different centres does take a toll on my health.

The dry heat of the “Land of Kings” was a new experience for me. As a child, I would travel with my family to see my sister in the town of Pilani in northeastern Rajasthan. These trips would usually be short affairs, mostly done during the cooler parts of the year when the BITS campus is quite green so you wouldn’t feel the heat as much. But during this visit, I experienced the mercury rise. Transitioning into summer at this place was not easy. And I am not talking about the Delhi heat problem. Delhi feels like paradise when compared to the moisture-sucking air of Rajasthan. My days were mostly spent in air conditioning, and my walking path was dictated by following shaded spots on the ground. For most of the time I was there, I wrapped muslin around my face, wishing it was always drenched in cold water to soothe my burning skin. Still, there was no escape from the relentless heat once I left the shelter protecting me. The trees, the people, the animals, the birds, all life seemed to be asking for mercy from the ironically life-giving Sun.

Only when dusk arrives can you breathe a sigh of relief. The merciless sun now takes a softer tone. The colour of the evening is a tangerine dusk. The hot air becomes kinder, morphing into a slow breeze. You close your eyes and feel your body relax along with the mood of the sky. You can finally sit outside in the open and watch the sun go down as the earth swallows it up. Everything seems slightly easier and you don’t have to take refuge under the shade any more.

You see why the culture of Rajasthan, or even Gujarat for that matter, is so bright and colourful, why the folk music has so much soul. Because the sun, which usually gives life, can also take life. Take the calmness of water away from the land and you are left with a feeling of lifelessness. I tried to compensate for this life-sucking heat by wearing a cotton shirt with a vintage print and wide collar, along with white denims. The cotton made me feel lighter and the print made me feel hopeful and light. People in this culture compensate for a desaturated landscape through using saturated colours. That is why vibrant colours and eclectic prints became such an important part of the Rajasthani culture. Clothing is a reaction to surrounding environments, and also an opportunity for people to express themselves amidst a landscape that can often feel oppressive and boring.

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Photographs by Suryan Unni Joy.

Story by Sahdev Hooda.

Kangra diaries

Traveling is like reading a book. Like being transported to a new world where unpredictability of life comes to life again. Giving us insights on the world around us at large and also what lies with in ourselves.

I have recently started teaching at different centres of National Institute of Fashion Technology. I studied fashion at NIFT, New Delhi and now teaching the same to the next generation of curious thinkers. Apart from being able to share what I have learned in past ten years of working, I thoroughly enjoy traveling to these different destinations, which I might not have visited otherwise.

Kangra is one of the places NIFT has established a centre at. The college is placed on a hill, just a small walk from the main city. This is my second trip to this place. It is nothing less than another set of beautiful memories etched in my mind. Conversations with young minds is truly an amazing experience. Their unadulterated personalities is a breath of fresh air. There is a certain sense of serenity in the college, a calm vibe with an under current of excitement of the youth.

The city is still away from being commercialised. It has its own charm. Charm of a world untouched and pleasant simplicity. It will be absolutely unfair to not mention the beautiful view one gets from the perspective of the hill top that the college is built upon. It overlooks the valley which is shielded from the other side by the breathtaking Dhauladhar range, vertically inclined, majestic in sight. You will see it here in the images I have shared out of a big pool of them. At times, after the lectures are done, I would walk with friend, who also teaches there, to the other side of the college hill and find a spot to sit at, over looking a river. The cover page image is the view from where we would usually sit. Our spot. We would sit and stare at the sun go down. An absolutely breathtaking view, right in the lap of untouched nature. The birds of prey in the sky would often distract us and hypnotise us with their seamless flow on the winds above. They are poetry in air, just like the clouds.

Occasionally we would skip the lunch at the college canteen and go down to the ‘dhaba’ near college, which was based on the edge of these beautiful yellow fields in the valley. Mustard was flowering then, welcoming spring. The fresh orange juice, ‘aloo paranthas‘ with ‘dahi‘ were a hit with the students and us two, the only customers. After a nice small glass of chai we would go for a brief walk into the fields. Sit their in silence, giving way to the chirping of birds and ruffle of leaves in the wind. At first when you sit down, you only see the big picture. The mountains, the sky, the trees, the big birds. After some time, the life around starts to emerge in finer detail. The bees, the insects, the little birds, the sunlight on the leaves and you see the most beautiful painting in the world. The innocence of things that are wild and free. Egoless, and pure. The most blissful feeling.

Love.

Something a modern mindset can find hard to tap into.

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I will be going back there very soon. Hopefully, I will gather some more images and make another blogpost out of them. Though I love making beautiful images, I wish I could also share some of the videos I have made of the birds in the sky. I have shared some of them on my Instagram page. It is with the same name as my blog @sahdevhooda.

Photographed by iPhone 7 Plus.

Thank You Vineet for you support and also clicking some of these beautiful images.

Sahdev Hooda

White gets dirty

A colour that represents purity, virginity, innocence, light, goodness, heaven, safety, cleanliness and a lot more positive. It also represents all the colours at once, with their positive and negative. Hence it is the colour of completion.

I guess one of the reasons why we are so easily attracted to anyone who is wearing white is because it makes us feel everything said above. But is white actually all that “good”?

It is and it is not. Talking about perception here.

The yin yang says that every white has some black and vice versa. That is a very spiritual and philosophical message. I merely wanted to capture the feelings about white which are perceived as “dirty”.

No matter how pious a colour it is, white gets dirty.

I am being very confidently presumptuous when I say that this series of images captures every man and woman’s fantasy.

Dedicated to the classic white shirt and the classic sensual attraction towards it.

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To me it is the colour of liberation.

 

Concept and direction be me, Sahdev Hooda.

Assisted and also Photographed by Soumya Reddy.

Talent: A girl has no name.

Men in skirts?

Men is skirts.

I think this statement holds a lot in it. Something after so much discussion and history, still has not seen acceptance in everyday style as much. I use the word style more specifically because if ever a man wears a skirt and shows up, it is considered a statement, without a miss. Be it a hollywood star showing up in a kilt on red carpet or a star kid showing up in a fashion campaign (Jaden smith), carrying off a skirt, it is always talked about. Why are we men so scared of wearing a skirt? That question has very obvious answers and I would not waste my word on that over here. However, when a guy gathers the balls to sport a skirt in a public appearance, it is certainly an empowering sight. Even more so when the person wearing it feels no compromise on his masculinity or identity.  And why the heck not. Men have worn drapes as much as women did, till the western tailoring took over the idea of everyday dressing world wide.  Check out the historical costumes of different cultures and you will know what I mean.

This look here is all Anuj Bhutani. Needless to say he is definitely one of the most tasteful designers around. The extreme minimalistic elegance that these pieces had really intrigued me and I wanted to explore the style. The very first time I tried the combination, I fell in love. It brought back the same feeling of grace I had felt when I had worn one of the tibetan men’s full length kimono. I know it sounds funny but I partly did feel like Samurai Jack and that got me even more into it. I got the feeling of an old world charm that could seem like a fantasy land. Where legends lived and world was full of mysteries.

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Moving back to the current reality, it still feels amazing to just be in it. I would usually deny myself the opportunity to dress like this more often as I would attach so much definition to it. Right from gender, sexuality, age, social appropriation and a general sense of being judged unwell. This post for me is also a part of challenging myself and my creativity. Questioning my own idea of self image and growth. It has been an empowering experience. It is a sort of beginning of a journey where I come out of my shell and explore my creativity more fearlessly. This post has some of my favourite images till now.  I love them for their pure beauty and elegance, floating free from the usual and mundane.

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Starting from calmness and opening out to be its own kind of creature.

Clothes by Anuj Bhutani.

Concept, styling and photography by me.

Sahdev Hooda.

Dreams are made of colours.

There is a mad scientist that lives inside each of our’s brain. He is the original dreamer. The one who sees a broader spectrum of possibilities. Things that are not ordinary, mundane or usual.  It is this guy who pushes us to the get the juice out of life. To do things that we would not, unless the mad scientist came up with it.

These are dreams that he is always painting, right form your childhood days. Telling you to go for the biggest candy. To slip out of your mother’s protection and go roaming around the city. To just be yourself.

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With time the scientist grows in his ideas, while you are busy updating your shoe size. He has bigger plans for you now as he only adds to “must do crazy things” list. He is not bothered about making sense. He is mad. He gets away with it. All he knows now is his love for colour. So when we go to sleep, the mad scientist is still at work. Mixing new colours, like the white and red of the candy, swirling around each other, painting a new picture for you. So that when you wake up, you know what you want.

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Though when he is lonely, he invents friends for himself. They are generally nice guys, they like the scientist. They are his creation. his minions.

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Well a little company killed no body.

Jumpsuit by Anuj Bhutani.

Concept and Photography by me.

Sahdev Hooda

p.s. Special thanks to Manisha Shastri for letting me shoot at her place, play with her cats and the invented friends.

Where the kites fly.

My fascination with the sky has been like a love affair. After I moved to Bangalore, weekends and early evenings come together on the terrace, sitting and staring at the blue, endless sky and look at the kites flying above you. Majestic looking, their glide only adds to my fascination.

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Just how I love the blue sky, I also love design. And Urvashi Kaur. I think she is filled with great passion for her craft and her energy is infectious. I always want to know what her new range is like. There is a certain romanticism in the choice of weaves, textures, colours and cuts she puts together. Yet, such absolutely practical pieces that you fall in love. I picked  3 pieces from her label Urvashi Kaur (shirt and jacket) and Kapda by Urvashi Kaur (T-shirt) to shoot. The pants are my own. The shirt and jacket “touch and feel” amazing. One could live in them. I remember trying the jacket at her stall at Lakme Fashion Week for the first time and refusing to get out of it,

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These are only among the several other things that I love from her range. Out of the three, the t-shirt is the one that took me to the sky. The dye effect reminded of a black eagle. Rest all was a chain reaction from there. I hope I could marry the romance I feel for the sky and great clothes together here.

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Shirts and Jacket by Urvashi Kaur and Kapda by Urvashi Kaur.

Concept, Styling and Photography by me.

Sahdev Hooda

Colour takes over.

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SS17 is here and I have been blue about not being able to blog. Yes, I terribly miss doing my shoots. Planning the next set of images. I am still doing similar things but not for the blog. Well changing your city and moving to a “never been there before” one takes its time and I am settling in well with the Bangalore weather. That is indeed the best part about the garden city. Evenings are so very pleasant.

I have been only doing the thinking bit and trying to figure out the best way to kick back into doing my blogposts again. I had put up a post on Facebook some time back about looking out for Photographers to work with which has not lead to any collaborations yet. I decided to do all the work myself, including photography.

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This got me to work with compositions. I have never really done these for my blog. So clicking self and doing some product composition are both “first ever” here.

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This Tommy shirt colour got my attention some time back. I have been consciously trying to move towards a minimalistic bend towards my life and impulsive shopping is certainly not a part that can be managed with that. However, this colour got the good old devil out and now I have it.

I didn’t really need it.

Then why did I pick it up?

The colour?

Yes, the colour.

The colour broke the monotony of blues and olives that I have been overdoing for a while. Since the shirt didn’t come with a name for the colour, I think it sits closest to a ‘Qatar Red’. I like the name. So a colour can inspire someone to own it. That thought brought in the element of 4 tonal colours, listed like they would in a colour book.  Put together like a gradient, it represented my thought of the richness in colour only, without detail. I personally love prints. Specially printed shirts. This however is a story of colours and its tonality.

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The denims are from U.S. Polo, watch from Chaps and the retro sneakers are from KOOVS. This colour palette is a great theme to play with for summers. I generally don’t wear pink. With this look though, I would totally wear pink sneakers. If in canvas, even better. Hah! That is wishful thinking and getting ahead of myself.

Going back to my minimalistic thoughts, hope you like the images.

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Concept, Styling and Photography by me.

Sahdev Hooda

#oldwork

I recently had to go for an interview with an e-commerce company as a stylist. I am generally not the nervous one with interviews but this time I was because even though I have done a good amount of styling work as a freelancer but never was I interviewed as a stylist before. I wanted to show them the best of my work or something with more depth and storytelling. Beyond celeb styling or what I generally have been able to achieve for my blog till now. Believing that I had no record of it, I surprising found all the editorial work that I had done till now. I was feeling absolutely nostalgic to see these images.

This is back in the days, winter of 2010 when I was still exploring my career options, I got an exciting chance to work with a start up. It was a friend who invited me onboard to look after the fashion bit for a magazine.

You are clearly a one man army in a start up situation. This was the first issue of TLF and my first work where I conceptualised, sourced, booked and executed everything myself and was it fun. We were a small knit team of friends, trying to do something different.

The story came from discussions about an earth conscious mood and we moved to creating imagery which somehow embodied a cry or a voice of the current situation of our environment.

It is always such a pleasure to shoot with Rishabh Anupam Sahay. He is one friend I have always enjoyed working with and has long a name. This was our first collaboration as well.

Hah! Old times.

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Photographs by Rishabh Anupam Sahay.

Talent: Tatyana Timirova.

Hair and makeup by Ratul.

Styled by me.

Sahdev Hooda

Suit it Indian

May life be filled with more travel plans and friends getting married at exotic locations.

I wore this look by NoughtOne (by Abhishek Paatni) for one of my dear friend’s wedding. The ‘bandhgala’ to me, is always appropriate for all indian occasions. I think it has been quite a while since I last wore a suit with a tie. Not the biggest fan of ties.

Made famous and followed by his name, the ‘Nehru Jacket’ is a style which I feel has a clear indian feeling attached to it. I recently blogged about a ‘bandhgala’ suit from another indian designer and I realise that they are spontaneously becoming a part of my personal style. This suit has a more modern edge with its crisp fabric and contemporary styling and details. One could even wear it with a mandarin collared shirt. I paired it with a bright blue shirt of mine. It was a perfect highlight for the light beige of the suit.

My friends poked fun at the look by calling it the look of Ladakh as the terrain is mostly rocky, hence beige and the blue of the sky is as clear and saturated as the shirt. I didn’t have much to argue about that and I laughed along with them.

I was once told at a French designer boutique that true luxury is reflected from the inside. Be it the finesse of the jacket lining or the way you maintained your drawers. Abhishek always scores well on that. I haven’t seen his office drawers but I am talking about his designs here. He always has a thought behind how he finishes the clothes he makes. Perfect highlights and impeccably finished insides. This is where a true gentleman would put his money.

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Shot in ‘Neh’ valley near Leh.

Photographed by Malvika Jain.