An ambitious woman, a kick-ass boss and a visual thinker, Srishti Agarwal is a graphic designer and the founder of the Nouveau Studio as well as the co-founder of the ZISYA Culinary. We spent a lovely day in her home chatting about her experience and her thought process in the creative field. Seen on Srishti is our Evelyn Set.
What did baby Srishti want to become?
Well, you won’t believe it but as a little girl, I wanted to be a horse breeder. I guess, for most of it, the idea of having a stallion and naming it 'Aristocrat' made me more amenable to the possibility of this profession.
Serif or Sans Serif?
Umm, can I say both? Having to pick is very brain-freezing for me. Let me just phrase it this way- the elegance of Serif but how could one not want Helvetica?!
In a parallel pandemic-free world, where would you be spending the summer of 2021?
Definitely in Spain with my girls for a best friend's bachelorette. But the question does make me wonder- is there a parallel COVID-free universe right now? If something so akin to this does prevail somewhere out there, I guess that is where I would be unabashedly lounging away right now, trying to make the most of everything.
"I have come to appreciate the power of grey. It's a colour that lets white stand out in all its glory whilst simultaneously providing a platform for black to retain its identity."
Which is your favourite blog or page for art inspiration?
There’s a myriad of immensely inspiring platforms out there that I look up to on an unceasing basis but if I had to pick, it would Jeff Lincoln Art Design on Instagram, and Shillington’s blog, which is also the college where I learned the multivariate disciplines of graphic design from.
Tell us a typeface you currently love (and one that you hate!)
Urgh, okay. I am going to have to say Garamond. But then I wouldn't want to metamorphose this system of design by not saying Helvetica. (being a little greedy here and picking two :P)
What are Srishti’s brand colors and why?
My brand colours are Midnight Grey, Ultramarine Green, and Sand Brown. I have always liked black and white as colours but more so, I have come to appreciate the power of grey. It's a colour that lets white stand out in all its glory whilst simultaneously providing a platform for black to retain its identity. It is a space where there is no right or wrong, or acceptable or unacceptable. It is a latitude of freedom, free will, and free form.
"When I look at an identity design, I need it to be simple, modular, and responsive while echoing the sensibilities of what the brand stands for."
Tell our readers about your culinary venture.
ZIS YA was a dream project for my mother. She'd been tailgating her desire to be the perfect mother and the perfect wife for far too long. While in actuality, she needed me to unwind from my education to help follow her dreams for real. She needed a support system, someone who could tell her that she's going to do great. I was that person for her. We both started ZIS YA roughly about 3 months before the pandemic and the resultant lockdown. ZIS YA (Sanskrit for passion) is a meet-and-greet realm with fair moderation of cooking for those who wallow in the indulgences of this art form. We came up with this idea to provide a platform to people who saw cooking as a way to liberate themselves and to sync with people. With all we've done so far, we want ZIS YA to be that culinary experience that exposes you to the articulate flavours of different cuisines.
What are the three most important ingredients in a strong visual identity in your opinion?
When I look at an identity design, I need it to be simple, modular, and responsive while echoing the sensibilities of what the brand stands for. It's a sort of montage in my head of different variables and disciplines of design when I look at a brand. It's about a more holistic approach to see how different nodes of the identity can bring out a stronger and more communicative (dialogue-oriented) visual language. The key is thinking of the brand as a person and then working on all the attributes.
What’s your favourite food to cook?
Well, this one's going to be a shocker for most. A cooking book that's indispensable to me is 'Everyday ayurveda cooking for a calm, clear mind- 100 simple sattvic recipes' by Kate O'Donnell. I follow (or at least try to mostly) a sattvic diet primarily eradicating dairy products, garlic, and onion. No, I don't do it because a religion expects me to but because it makes me feel beautiful from the within.
"For me, design blocks are a clear indication of an overstretched home run. It is exactly then when I know I need to declutter, wipe it clean and start all over. "
How do you deal with a creative block?
For me, design blocks are a clear indication of an overstretched home run. It is exactly then when I know I need to declutter, wipe it clean and start all over. I do honestly believe in this adage - "don't work more than you live" and when I have a creative block, I do exactly this. I hit pause for just that moment and let it swim through a little. I start living a little more doing small things that elevate my sense of being. I don't think that I have a list per se. I do whatever makes me oblivious in that stretch. To recapitulate, Freewill headspace- this is what breaks my block and lets me outrun myself.
What does your typical workday look like?
A typical workday or not, it always is a healthy concoction of client sync calls, managing the studio socials, reaching out to creative bodies to collaborate with, making minor tweaks here and there, and if I'm fortunate enough, getting the time to design during the day (which is too often not the case). The chronology however is always too disheveled and on most days I feel like I'm running the cogwheels all at once. But the side benefit makes me a multi-tasker and I can't complain. One thing that does stick on most days is jotting down all things that I have (or try) to whip up in a day. It's like workspace caffeine for me without which jacking up for the day is almost impossible.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Umm, that's a trick question because there are too many ideas and places clashed up against each other. But if it were to boil down to just one place, I would want to live in the head of Ellen Lupton. Just knowing how she informs the design decisions on all multivariate projects is something that excites me.
"Relentless, passionate, and determined, my mother is this one woman I continually look up to."
Tell us about a woman you really admire. Why?
We interact with numerous people daily. Some leave a mark in our lives, some don't and some just become a happy memory. But don't we all have this one person who continues to inadvertently create insightful impacts on our lives every day? Relentless, passionate, and determined, my mother is this one woman I continually look up to. She is an inspiring artist, a wholesome cook, and a dazzling homemaker but no words seem enough to describe the gamut of what she does or of who she is.
Your first memory of foraying into the creative world.
From the very beginning actually, the whole creative/cultural climate has been very big on me. This was primarily because of my mother being an art enthusiast and cultural aficionado. But purely speaking about my interest spike, I guess that happened during school, roughly in the 4th grade. The exact event was when I had forgotten to bring along my craft supply bag to school and as a result, had to sit through the physical education class making clay flowers with my art professor. I wasn't the least bit upset (especially since that was the whole purpose of the punishment). That is when I knew and maybe also when started my creative journey.