We spoke with Kunel Gaur, the Founder & Creative Director of New Delhi based Animal. Kunel chatted to us about his amazing team who he refers to as 'wild enthusiasts', how he seeks out graduates to bring onto his team who embrace failure and experimentation, and their amazing side project where they paired designers up with local businesses to rebrand!

Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs?

I studied Advertising and Graphic Design from a design institute. But I’d much rather put it as self-taught. My first job was with DDB where I worked on creating the sign design guidelines for Delhi Metro, India’s first city subway. Since it was also the first sign design project we worked with the team from London Underground to help show us the way. During this time I also experimented with working on some architectural projects for the company. Designing building facades, retail experiences and airport lounges. Within the first year, I was glad to have gotten hands on experience with handling large scale projects and understanding file and project management that has to do with the public at large.

How did you name your practice and what does the name represent to you?

Prior to starting Animal I was working at various advertising agencies like JWT, Saatchi and Saatchi and Weiden+Kennedy. Traditional agencies have a rigid structure, where events, digital marketing, product design and other cool things were outsourced to other, smaller companies. I wanted to be able to bring these lost opportunities closer to me, skipping and hopping across multiple disciplines by creating a team of wild enthusiasts specialising in different areas of work. From starting as a design studio, Animal has grown into becoming a full-service creative agency and now also an incubator to foster and develop our own tech-related products.

Talk us through a typical working day include for you right now.

On a given day at Animal we could be found working on tweaking a social media launch campaign for a tech startup, crafting the props for a fashion shoot next week, finalising designs for a streetwear line for a beer brand, crowd-sourcing an activation for our favourite sneaker brand, tweaking an animation documenting the education scenario in Ghana, Africa, creating city-specific packaging for a Vodka, preparing an investor pitch deck for a product we conceived and developed in-house, ordering more cakes than needed for birthdays amongst other things!  🙂

Culture always affects our work in myriad ways. Part of our culture is rooted in history and tradition. And part of it is emerging from it.

How does the local culture of where you live affect your design work and getting clients?

Culture always affects our work in myriad ways. Part of our culture is rooted in history and tradition. And part of it is emerging from it. Between there somewhere there’s a sweet spot where there’s a lot of action – be it music, fashion, design, politics or food. Good communication binds it all, though mostly for brands willing to experiment and go that mile. Those are the brands we’re speaking to.

What qualities and skills do you look for in a graduate?

We strive for the un-satisfied ones. Those who’re always trying new things, mostly failing. But most definitely trying nonetheless. Much more than skills we would appreciate an effort, and a drive to solve a given problem no matter what it takes. Some of our best work has come out by going off-road, off-brief or having a skewed opinion on something.

Any passion projects/collabs you would like to share?

Collaboration has been in our blood from day 01. We started Animal six years back by crowd-sourcing our own logo. And we’re a curious bunch that doesn’t take lightly questions like ‘What is Indian design?’. To initiate a discussion around that, in 2016 we initiated a project called Indianama. An effort to bring together the designers from around the country to solve for a single theme every year. In the 2018 edition of Indianama – we went to the streets of Delhi – we approached 71 street-side shops (Part of Small / Medium enterprises or SME’s that contribute to 25% of India’s GDP) and paired them with 71 graphic designers to redesign their identity systems. Why? Because if design has to emerge from the niche that it is in right now, the common people will have to play a big part.

Another one of our recent projects include Veu : A product conceptualised and developed at Animal. Veu is a marketplace that connects people around the world with local and talented photographers. A Google search statistic revealed that since the time between 2007 to now there’s a surge in people looking for photographers and photographers looking for assignments. That, coupled with the rise of the gig economy gave us enough reason to step in and create an app that could make this meeting of minds easier. Veu takes care of everything from discovery to delivery in a time-bound secure environment.

What advice would you give design graduates?

– Not to take themselves seriously – good work takes time. And that is perfectly ok.

– Keep putting work out on social media or whatever works for you. But keep putting work out. Don’t worry about the judgement. The only one that is important is your own, and that is going to change everything, over time.

Where do you think design is heading in the next five years and how will you adapt?

We’re excited about where the industry is headed. Of course the on-coming recession will bring some chaos. But we’re hopeful that it will also bring innovation, and new perspectives in design and technology. We also can’t wait to see what a 360 degree canvas brings when advancements in AR and MR make wearable technology an everyday thing.

Whats on the cards professionally and personally in the next 12 months?

Personally, I’m planning to roll out some new series of work that I have been creating of late, maybe put up a show soon. At Animal, we’re also working on some ideas in AR. Hoping to see a manifestation of our creativity in non-traditional ways like tech. Amongst projects, we’re excited about a soon to be released streetwear collection we’re working on for a beer brand. As well as the expansion of our operations for Veu into other cities, and hopefully countries.

Where to find Animal:


Instagram (Animal): @weareanimalco

Instagram (Kunel): @kunelgaur

Twitter (Animal): @weareanimalco

Twitter (Kunel): @kunelgaur

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