We, as the Designer Interviews ("DI") had the distinct pleasure and opportunity to interview award-winning, most creative and innovative Nalisha Chouraria ("NC").
Nalisha Chouraria is a multidisciplinary designer and illustrator who specialises in play & design for children. She creates unorthodox tools to stimulate and empower children, and encourage them to step out of their comfort zone through play. Her work includes illustration, play design, graphic design, event design, and digital & physical toys and games. She brings the child's perspective into her designs through research, playtests, observation, interviews & workshops. As well as working with a suite of award-winning studios, Nalisha has had utterly unique life experiences, including being a Bollywood child actor and marrying a tree. During her early education, all her designs were termed as ‘cute’. This led her to question the very attribute and break out of it through experimentation with the unconventional. Studio Oddball is her playground.
Nalisha Chouraria Designs
We are pleased to share with you original and innovative design work by Nalisha Chouraria.
Designer Interview of Nalisha Chouraria:
DI: Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
NC : Ever since I can remember, I've loved drawing and making things. I knew pretty early on that I wanted to pursue design. I studied visual communication design at Srishti School of Design in Bangalore, India. Soon after I joined, a lab called Interactive Toy Design was introduced. YAY! It was supposed to be a side project but I loved it so much that by the time I finished design school, I had spent more time as a toy designer than as a graphic designer. I enjoyed making objects which led me to pursue a Masters in Designed Objects at School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the United States. When I realised I was directing all my briefs towards play and children, I decided to pursue another Masters in Child Culture Design at HDK in Gothenburg, Sweden. Professionally, I've had the opportunity to work with some of the best agencies and design studios around the world. I'm grateful for having had the privilege to go wherever my curiosity led me.
DI: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
NC : Studio Oddball is a one woman creative practise specialising in play and design for children based on the Gold Coast, Australia. I create unorthodox tools and experiences to stimulate and empower children, and encourage them to step out of their comfort zone through play. Studio Oddball is my playground!
DI: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
NC : My work includes but is not limited to illustration, play design, graphic design, digital and physical toys & games design.
DI: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
NC : Characters for an online game.
DI: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
NC : I let the project define the medium. It could be anything from digital illustrations to working with materials like wood, hair, tea bags or taxidermy. Whatever the medium, I try to insert the odd and unexpected.
DI: When do you feel the most creative?
NC : I'm a morning person.
DI: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
NC : Research. I'm a very curious person and love learning. I also spend a lot of time making and refining because I enjoy it but more importantly because I was born with the curse of perfectionism.
DI: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
NC : Playful and often uncomfortable.
DI: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
NC : It's always exciting to see a design go from a sketch to a finished product. I feel proud.
DI: What makes a design successful?
NC : It should embody and inspire creativity, playfulness, empathy, goodness and guts.
DI: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
NC : Does it challenge perceptions? Does it stimulate the imagination? Does it inspire playfulness?
DI: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
NC : Be a good human being, designer or not.
DI: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
NC : I'm interested in what children do when no one's watching. I stay inspired by constantly learning and taking in as many new experiences as possible, outside of design.
DI: How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
NC : During my early education, all my designs were termed as ‘cute’. This led me to question the very attribute and break out of it through experimentation with the unconventional. A recurring theme in her work is the uncanny. My work is a push and pull between the cute and not cute.
DI: Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
NC : Although I currently live on the Gold Coast, Australia, I've grown up in India and lived in the United States, Sweden, Italy, and the Netherlands. I've travelled a fair bit and have had unique life experiences, including being a Bollywood child actor and marrying a tree. All my experiences influence me in some way or the other, irrespective of where I live.
DI: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
NC : 1. Work with people that share the same core values as you but constantly challenge you. 2. Trust them. 3. Pay them.
DI: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
NC : Don't be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. Try to take in as many new experiences as possible, outside of design. Don't be a dick.
DI: What is your "golden rule" in design?
NC : It's better to be odd than boring.
DI: What skills are most important for a designer?
NC : Curiosity, empathy, playfulness and guts
DI: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
NC : I repeatedly tell myself "It doesn't need to be perfect, it needs to be tomorrow!"
DI: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
NC : You're a children's designer, why don't you have children?
DI: What was your most important job experience?
NC : After working at an ad agency, I was sure I never wanted to go back to doing advertising. It is not only important to figure out what you like to do but also what you don't like to do.
DI: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
NC : The ones that give me full freedom within tight parameters and the ones where I learn something new.
DI: How can people contact you?
NC : Write to email@example.com and follow my work on Instagram: @studiooddball