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Product Designer Vibhor Sogani: Designs without borders

Yusuf Begg  |  New Delhi 

Metaphors such as friendship, peace and cricket are the flavours of the season.
And has done his fair share to foster such feelings between and Having designed the Samsung Cup "" made of brass and plated with gold and silver with Swarovski crystals as embellishments "" Sogani was busy tying up loose ends so as to make it to Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium in time for the fifth one-day cricket match.
It has been one of the most exciting projects that the product designer from NID has tackled in his 12 years of professional life.
"Communication was the key factor since this series is not just about cricket. There is a lot of symbolism attached to it. Through my design I've tried to bring in elements of friendship, peace as well as sport "" sort of distilling the spirits of these concepts and giving it a new form," he explains. The trophy is shaped like gloved hands morphing into doves with a cricket ball at the centre.
Besides the main trophies for the one-day and Test series, he has also designed the trophies that go to the man of the match, man of the series and sundry mementoes for people involved in the series.While the cricket fever may bring him to the notice of the hoi polloi, for the design conscious, both corporate and individual, Sogani has been a familiar name. for his range of exclusive household accessories.
Retailed under Vibhor Sogani brand name, the products can only be seen at upmarket stores such a Vis-a-vis in Mumbai and Delhi, Ffolio in Bangalore, the Park, Chennai and the capital's Anant. "It's not that I don't want to venture into more stores. Firstly, there are investments to make; and secondly I want to be sure of the creative equations between the retailer and me. For the time being , my accessories will continue to be niche, design-driven products," he says.
For Sogani, his financial sustenance comes from his other venture, Office of Design and Development (ODD), a firm of designers and architects who accept projects in space design, industrial product design and graphic design. While his signature line has been around for just over a year, ODD's been in existence for nearly a decade. "The idea is to create a retail identity for our corporate clients," he explains.
Over the years, Sogani has designed over 90 showrooms and service centres for JK Tyres, retail space for Ravi Bajaj, Fab and Tata Infotech among others. It has also done the graphic design for Lufthansa, Gold Souk, World Gold Council. The company has also created exhibition space for clients as diverse as Mehrasons Jewellers, Thomson Electronics and DRDO.
For Sogani, design is a wide canvas. "You can say I'm lucky in being able to produce ashtrays as well as huge trade pavilions," he says. But do people or companies understand design? Sogani says more and more companies are aware of the need to have good designs. "A good design cuts down manufacturing costs. It means good business," he adds. The more important thing is to have design managers and not finance or HR people to pass judgements on designs, he feels.
Sogani has plans to start a line of lighting accessories and furniture. Talks are on to retail from stores across the UK. But the way ahead, according to him, is to produce design solutions for customised projects. Grand Hyatt, Mumbai, has already asked him to supply an exclusive line of accessories for each of its 600 rooms and its restaurants and bar.
So which team will hold the winner's trophy, designed by him, later this evening? His heart wants to win. But in these times, surcharged with political correctness, he says diplomatically, "Let the best team win."

First Published: Wed, March 24 2004. 00:00 IST