Sudarshan Dheer: The identity maker

By , agencyfaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | April 09, 2008
Dheer says the term 'design' is used very loosely and frivolously nowadays

What's common & #BANNER1 & # to Hindustan Petroleum (HP), Titan, the Essar Group, Raheja Corp., Kissan, IDBI Bank and Centurion Bank? The answer is Sudarshan Dheer, who has designed the logos or brand identities for these and over 100 more.

Dheer's work has been featured in more than 50 international publications and won more than 40 awards. The late American artist, Paul Peter Piech, who worked briefly with Dheer, wrote, "His corporate identity symbols have a pure sense of grace, beauty and fresh inventiveness that give a bold and vigorous visual identity." Coming from the renowned graphic designer, that was high praise indeed.

Dheer, who worked with ad agencies such as National Advertising and MCM for about two decades, quit advertising to start his own design studio, Graphic Communication Concepts in 1974. Ask him about his defining moments and he immediately rewinds to 34 years ago.

Sudarshan Dheer
His biggest break, he recalls, was winning the HP logo design job. "I was just a year into my own business and HP had called about five-six big agencies for this pitch."

The logo is a circle within which oil spouts from the bottom and spreads to the sides. The circle represents the distribution of oil evenly across the country.

Dheer counts people such as J Krishnamurti, the philosopher, and Kersey Katrak (from his MCM days), among those who inspired him. Krishnamurti's February speeches at the JJ School of Art in Mumbai in 1954 were a must-attend for Dheer. "I remember his sessions were held every Sunday and we used to eagerly wait to attend them. What he said kept me probing myself."

Dheer has a problem with the interpretation of design. He feels that, nowadays, the term 'design' is used very loosely and frivolously - 'designer shoes' or 'designer clothes'. He believes that to create design, "you have to get in touch with your inner being to bring out that creativity. If you're not doing that, you are recreating something you have seen or remember, or something done before. You have to feel it to create it."

Dheer has published and edited The World of Symbols/Logos & Trademarks - India. He lectures on graphic design at various national and international institutions and organisations.