The Little Yellow Book is a series of short interviews with different members of the Landor team. You can find out more about who they are, what they do, and what inspires and motivates them to do what they do.
Kurnal, our Creative Director, is a firm believer in intelligent design and has over 20 years of experience in creating exciting and impactful design solutions for brands across categories. He is responsible for steering the creative team to deliver agile and inspired design solutions. Equally proficient in both print and digital, Kurnal has successfully worked across a wide portfolio of industries – aviation, banking, consumer goods, exhibitions & events, fashion & lifestyle, hospitality, sports and government initiatives. He has also been a proud recipient of many prestigious honours, including Designomics and Creative Abby amongst others. He says “My mantra is to push myself into fearlessly experimenting and looking at things with a different perspective”. He practises reiki and meditation, and is a curious mind that observes every bit of the evolving industry while working to disrupt the same through his work.
What does it take to captain a ship?
I deeply believe in these words by Stephen R. Covey’s in his book – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: “Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.” There must be a good balance between authority and approachability. I believe in leading my team through mentorship rather than ‘bossing around’. There are going to be good times and bad times, but as the captain of the ship, it is important to train your team to manage the bad and turn the tides to good! One of the essentials is to project calmness because I really feel that the team feeds on your energy. It is important to keep calm and have the confidence to deal with the situation well.
What inspires you? And how do you constantly stay energised?
Life inspires me!
First is Nyra, my daughter. She is an important part of my life. Spending quality time with her while playing, talking with her, making art, always adds a different perspective. Creating without constraint like a child always helps to clear my mind.
Secondly, any fascinating experience. Maya Angelou famously said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This holds true for any kind of experience. I crave inspiring stories and sensory experiences to clear my mind. This need not have anything to do with design; it’s enough to feed my curiosity. It could be a fabulous book or a stellar short film. Maybe even just a great afternoon cooking for the people I love.
Thirdly, my yoga and meditation. Design is both a science and an art. It needs a balance of analytical and creative mindsets, and I chase this balance through my yoga, reiki, and meditation practices. It creates a peaceful space for me in the daily chaos of deadlines. It has been one of the strong factors behind my personal, spiritual and professional growth. It helps me stay grounded and stay connected to my inner-self.
One rebrand you love and one rebrand which has gone absolutely wrong.
It was impressive how Google, which has been famous for its simplicity since its inception, has created a smart visual system. I absolutely love the way Google has expanded the visual language and made it so simple, agile and dynamic. The brand moving away from a static wordmark was unexpected. The four dots taking different avatars from loading to audio to search in an animated form is truly amazing. Google demonstrates how dynamic and agile even a logo can be.
I think Hero could have done a better job at rebranding. It lost an opportunity to rebrand itself as an automobile brand. The design doesn’t feel oriented to the automobile industry and doesn’t have any badge value that a customer would relate with or feel proud to be associated with. It looks completely off category and lacks the touch of strategic storytelling.
If you could go back in time and advise your 20-year-old self, what would you say?
I believe that our decisions determine our experiences, which are our best teachers.
What I am today is because of the choices I have made in the past. Good or bad, they always taught me and helped me grow. I don’t believe in the phrases like “too late” and “if only”, which is why advising my 20-year-old self would be tantamount to not standing by my choices. I think what I did in my 20s was the right thing, and I don’t think I would ever go back and advise myself to do things otherwise. I’d be content to just cheer myself on.
If not a Creative Director, what would you have been and why?
If I wasn’t a creative director, I would have been a great ‘Defence Personnel’. Two things I always clearly knew about myself – I am courageous and I am driven to make a difference. I always wanted to be in the army and make a difference for the people. I couldn’t do it through my masculine energy, hence, today I am doing this through my feminine energy.
Words of wisdom for the design aspirants today
- Reflect, be your own critic and challenge yourself.
- No detail is too small to let go of.
- Inspiration is not in front of your computer. Step out.
- If you can surprise yourself with your work that means you have your mojo.
- Take every brief as an opportunity to excel by creating something amazing.
What is brand Kurnal?
Fearless, dynamic, empathetic, humble