Hitesh Singhal is an award-winning graphic designer specializing in work for art, architecture, education, and culture. Combining a conceptual approach with progressive tools of visual communication, his practice encompasses the full range of contemporary graphic media—from exhibitions and printed materials, to branding and interactive applications. In recognition of his achievements, Hitesh Singhal was awarded the Adobe Design Award 2015 in Exhibition Design, one of the United States’ highest distinction in the field.
He currently collaborates with Patrick Seymour at Tsang Seymour Design, a design studio in the West Chelsea arts district of Manhattan. The studio practice in centered around the belief that successful and enduring solutions are made when knowledge and creative thinking are shared in an open and collaborative exchange. Merging their backgrounds in architecture and graphic design, they work on creating user-centered experiences for various museums and arts organisations in New York City and beyond.
Hitesh strives to go beyond the superficiality of design and explore how design can tackle real social, political and economic issues. He recently completed an exhibition for the Smithsonian Design Museum called By the People: Designing a Better America. The show challenges the country’s persistent social and economic inequality. Curator of Socially Responsible Design Cynthia E. Smith conducted over two years of field research—traveling to shrinking post-industrial cities, sprawling metro regions, struggling rural towns, areas impacted by natural and man-made disasters, and places of persistent poverty—in search of design for more inclusive and sustainable communities.
The design intent was to use humble materials and simple ideas that disrupts the traditional white-box museum experience just enough that the visitor does not judge the objects on display as pristine works of art, but rather as the products of meaningful ideas. The exhibition graphics build on the straightforward exhibit design to create a strong graphic identity. In a simple, bold move, Hitesh “hacked” the Cooper Hewitt’s open source font to create a stencil font. This font was used to paint important text, including the title wall, intro text and compelling info graphics, directly onto wall panels. As the show’s title implies, design is not just the task of designers. The exhibition delivers a powerful message of optimism for achieving a more just and equitable society for all Americans through design. The show received a phenomenal review in the New York Times.
Hitesh completed his Masters in Fine Art(MFA) from Maryland Institute College of Arts, MICA, ranked in the top 3 MFA programs in United States. Mentored under the famous graphic designer, writer, curator, and program director, Ellen Lupton, he got the chance to work on her exhibition “How Posters Work”. The show demonstrated how some of the world’s most creative designers have employed and pushed the boundaries of two-dimensional design, harnessed the mechanics and psychology of perception, and mastered the art of storytelling to produce powerful acts of visual communication.
Hitesh’s work was featured in the best-selling graphic design book by Ellen Lupton called “Graphic Design: The New Basics”. In Graphic Design: The New Basics, Ellen Lupton, best-selling author of such books as Thinking with Type and Design It Yourself, focus design instruction on the study of the fundamentals of form in a critical, rigorous way informed by contemporary media, theory, and software systems.
His project, Hedonist Monk, has been featured in AIGA, profession's oldest and largest professional membership organization for design—with 70 chapters and more than 25000 members. The installation used the vernacular of a monk but communicates the ideology of a hedonist.
Through his work he creates new relations between journalism and design. Under the name of Archaeology of Tea he created visual narratives about geopolitical issues around Tea. Tea changed the world. He created animated maps that explore tea and its dynamic relationships to globalism, urbanism and migration. The sensory experience of tea was also evoked through teacups and tea blends. From theme of how Tea and spices drove the Western age of discovery to how the tea trade spurred urban growth in Mumbai. The seven islands of the original city gradually merged as builders reclaimed land from the sea, creating a single connected metropolis. And the present day mass migration of people can be looked as tea culture in making through the global flow of customs and flavors.
He has an attitude to stay nimble. He has delved into ceramics, CNC milling and code-based animation. He made vessels that stored tea blends and flavors, for his project Archaeology of Tea.. They added another layer of tactile and gustatory stimulus in the project. The challenge of a new tool and medium has helped him re-define my design practice.
The writings of prolific design critic Andrew Blauvelt have deeply influenced Hitesh’s design philosophy. He used his writings about Hippie Modernism to create an identity system for MICA’s Graduate thesis show. The visual identity celebrated the organic, liquid qualities that behaved as a counterpoint to the gridded typographic lock up. It serves to remind us that art and design is at its core is a visceral human endeavor. The project was nominated for Adobe Design Award 2016.
He often questions the role as a designer. What are their expectations, our tools and its implication. As a challenge to question how tools dictate his design practice, he created a zine without using any familiar tools in his kit such as existing typefaces or graphic softwares. He used a mix of free web tools like Pixelr(an image-editing website), Fontstruct(modular type design tool) and Processing to create the visual language. The outcome was surprising and opened new questions for him.
Besides his recent accomplishments, he has also gained a wealth of professional experience. At Ogilvy and Mather, he got first hand experience of how large-scale national campaigns are rolled out. At the design department of newspaper, Times of India, he learnt the virtues of speed and efficiency. Churning out design layouts for the English daily everyday was challenging and exciting.
He strongly believe that as designers we must take enough risk and go beyond performing as Graphic Designers.He is now working on the next project for the Smithsonian Design museum centered around the theme of Jazz age and the visual culture surrounding it. The show opens in the spring 2017.