Function As Much As Form
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Communication designer Varun Panesar’s idea to use better layouts to improve physical products took a surprising turn when he designed his first wallet

Tell us about your journey from UX/UI design to accessory design.

VP: I have been doing UX/UI for eight years and still continue to pursue it as a consultant. It has played an integral part in my journey as a designer. After designing several mobile applications and web platforms, I got insights into application of design to help solve problems and drive user action. The entire design process revolves around a very ‘human centered’ approach. That’s the biggest take away I got from UX/UI design, and I apply a similar ideology in accessory design as well. From the beginning of Forth, I knew that I wanted to design accessories that had good esthetics and functioned well as per user needs. When we say a ‘functional bag’, the most common method to approach the design is to give ‘n’ number of pockets to fit several things, with a lot of space and many different ways to open/close it, involve tech, etc. That’s not bad or incorrect - it is just a conventional way to approach product design.

Coming from a UX/UI background, I approach the design differently. I look for practical solutions. I am not interested in giving hundreds of ‘features’ but a product that is easy to interact with and use. It is more about eliminating the things we don’t generally need and keeping things that are of immediate use. A good product is not about more features but about better usability. I consider practical usage scenarios. That’s what I learnt from UX and now apply in accessory design. It has been a fun and insightful journey so far!

What is the story behind Forth?

VP: After studying Graphic Design at MIT Institute of Design in Pune, I worked on building brands along with user experience design. I was good at building layouts and wanted to make physical products better with better layouts - and that’s when I started designing wallets as a small personal project. The outcome was impressive and liked by my peers. I went ahead with a small production of wallets and got an overwhelming response. That’s how Forth started in July 2016. The idea was to create functional and unconventional products.

What does it take to create functional yet unconventional products?

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