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Interview with Ghada Wali

Home > Designer Interviews > Ghada Wali

Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Ghada Wali (GW) for A’ Design Award and Competition. You can access the full profile of Ghada Wali by clicking here.

Interview with Ghada Wali at Tuesday 1st of May 2018

FS: 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?
GW: A passionate artist from a young age, Wali always wanted to study art. She changed her mind when the German University in Cairo introduced its graphic design program. Wali “hopped on the opportunity” when she realized she could still be an artist, change the world and improve people’s lives through design and visual communication. As one of the Graphic Design pioneers in Egypt, “it was a great challenge to join a program offered for the first time in Egypt, and I insisted on marking my first steps in my journey.” She said. With her art background, Wali was disappointed to learn that design in not art, but she aspires to prove this statement wrong, or at least she tries to prove that “Design is Art – with function.” Through her work, Wali strives to experiment and explore with “diversity of approaches” that work for different briefs rather than tying herself to a specific one. “My heart is my compass,” she says. “I work with my full heart and emotion, and I believe that it reaches the cores of people when it is true and genuine.” Wali also believes that, “inspiration has no distinctive specifications. It can be extreme, complex or a simple idea, generated from absolute infinite and unpredictable sources. Everything, everybody, everywhere inspires me.”

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
GW: The Wali's Studio is a design changer full-service studio that operates for unparalleled brand experience. We are changing the visual scene by setting new trends, creating strategy, developing solutions, design across all platforms. The Wali's specialize in brand identities, campaigns, strategies, content creation, commercials, websites, apps, books, environments, signage, way finding, and more.We fully indulge the whole creative brand experience. This is where we stand. We passionately seek what we can offer at untapped frontiers. We create an up-roar to any communication.We believe in owning a full partnership with the client, finding the market gaps, providing a competitive analysis, drawing the consumer's perceptual map, finding the right stimulus for evoking a certain emotion in his brain to a real fulfilling brand experience. Brands are as well transforming into intangible mediums rather than the static conventions. Brands should focus on visual content, tap into the world of wearable technologies; they should focus on "live" and real-time engagement while keeping the classic element of "story-telling". Customers are becoming brand influencers and ambassadors, user-generated content is the drive. Brands should hammer on the power of convergence, as creativity is now becoming a social act. For it to be “shareable”, content has not only to be meaningful but also makes you look “fashionable/cool” to share and be part of it, while still triggering the main factors of either humor, emotion, shock or sex appeal.We are not only writing a story, or keen only on making a brand recognition, but we are transcending a full stimuli to the consumer's emotion as he lives by. We are not only satisfied by creating a lovemark between our brands and our consumers. But we are consistently walking the consumer's path with the constantly changing mediums that bombard him daily. People are seeking experiences and not technologies, virtual reality and augmented are all about enhancing existing human behaviors; the possibility of the human immersion inside different worlds in real time is groundbreaking. With the most complex network system of nerves and sensors, the human being by itself makes the perfect platform of a digital, interactive, movable & personalized tool of communication. The role of humanity is here being pushed to the maximum, not only individuals coexisting but carriers of global & local messages, precious information, ideas & thoughts. Only Design can shape and foster the limitless possibilities of today’s growing technologies.That is why we are keen on providing creative solutions and we work closely with our clients on strategy, possibilities, etc... and we even supervise closely with other agencies what we don't produce in-house to ensure that our client is receiving all the best there is for their brand.Because we believe that this relationship is so personal in a dynamic changing world and we believe so much in change, and we are residing with it, even for the way that design can take over the world, just as our founder believes "Graphics Design can change the world" we really believe that there are more skies to the skies themselves, and how unconventional the communication scene can change all at once. Now. We believe in successful stories not only with the ones that we create with our brands, but more profoundly with the start of our partnership with our esteemed clients.

FS: What is "design" for you?
GW: OUR DRIVEWHY ARE WE HERE? "GRAPHIC DESIGN CAN CHANGE THE WORLD""One who doesn’t have a history, does not have a future. I create work that is relevant to who I am and where I come from. I have gained global recognition on the works that specifically celebrate my identity" Ghada Wali, 2017.Our aim is to encompass the Arabian heritage & Egyptian identity through portraying our work on the maps of global trends. An ancient civilization has been out looked, commercialized and fallen into the abused clichés. The role of design in fostering cultures, scripts, history and finding innovative ways to preserve history while keeping up with the fast moving future is essential. A fresh eye on history’s treasures with a contemporary approach while Celebrating a Nation’s history with global engagement is my objective – so our beautiful Arab Identity can be proudly showcased to the world. Local Vs. Global, Living in a small world we live in right now, designing a brand that looks and is understood to a global market is a factor that enhances its lifetime, however, this must not be caught against its relevance to its original local target.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
GW: OUR MISSION"SO WHAT DOES REALLY BRANDING MEAN TO US?"It’s all about building relationships, catering towards serving customers’ emotional needs. More than selling a function, brands should sell ideas, belief systems, and ethos. Choosing to become part of this world is choosing a brand for life – hence brand loyalty. Brands should study and appeal to their customers’ changeable states, they should customize their looks and features accordingly and resonate with a direct emotion. Then, the single-minded response for a ‘buying’ action no more stands for logical reasons, rather becomes beyond rationale sometimes. The first and main manifestation of reaching this is through customer’s first interaction with the brand – “sight”, the visual language – branding. Brands should customize stories that intersect with their customer’s daily journey at important and intimate moments. Other than design should address to the consumer not the product, design should leverage on the medium used to maximize efficient communication. With a world over bombarding information everywhere, the attention span is diminished so Brand Design should focus on minimal yet impactful use of image and text to maintain strength and power; maybe even simplification to clear iconography is needed. If a question is raised through brand design then this will enable more consumer interaction and will create conversation. Visuals should ensure more than an appeal but a deep mental immersion to the world of the Brand. Brand design should be responsive to the consumer’s life events and to today’s technological advances.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
GW: People and places propel Wali’s drive for design projects, and she considers the redesigning of Cairo’s National Circus project, which combined these two elements as “one of the most enjoyable design journeys” she had been through. The objective of the project was to develop a poster series for the Egyptian circus, that highlights the spirit of the Egyptian culture, and create a new identity that “influences the perception of the brand [national circus] to attract a higher social class and become an original cultural and touristic spot.” To produce posters with the desired results, Wali spent an entire month at the circus with the performers and audience. She observed, recoded, photographed, ran surveys, conducted interviews and examined the psychology of both the performers and audience. The innovation of both the idea and the subject matter in Egypt was her “source of motivation.”

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
GW: A poster for a music performance

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
GW: s powerful design reaches over any medium

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
GW: travel

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
GW: The definition of a brand is an open elusive concept; it has no specific boundaries or interpretation. A corporate identity is not only created to communicate a tangible product, in many cases it’s a service, a producer or even a person. A ‘functional’ brand identity is in my opinion communicates the brand personality, brand promise, unique selling point, and most importantly a brand that ‘honestly’ sells. Nowadays, a successful identity mark is not only about visual communication, it is about a real user-brand experience. A good brand identity is the one that does not only use appropriate well-designed concepts, logotypes, picture-marks, typefaces or colors but also a one that is able to go far beyond the tangible brand assets, such as the ethos, ambiance, brand strategy, consumer perception, corporate behavior, that surround their product. Real brands are ones that leave marks in people heads, the ones that interact, solve a problem or make their daily lives easier. “From the people, by the people, to the people.” is a great motto that I always keep in my head while working on identity projects. In my working process, Spending time of research and inspiration from the actual thing (people/place/product/service) I am working on is an essential asset to producing real, relevant and honest story-telling designs, People (consumer) for me constitute the main drive and cause of any design project I’m about to embark. I chose to spend time to study and explore their behavior, where they talk about their experience in the place and their real stories. Observing, recording, taking notes, taking pictures, running surveys, interviews etc. This process, which in turn inspires and expands the horizon if any designer in building a great successful brand. Of course in our very fast moving world, not all tasks I am assigned to could have a flexible timeline for a full satisfactory journey. However, working in advertising has made me work effectively under a pressured working mode that requires fast and constant results in best qualities.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
GW: freedom, meditation.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
GW: accomplishment, pride, joy

FS: What makes a design successful?
GW: With the fast moving world of commercialism, social media and smart technologies. A world that is geared toward tomorrow and endless sea of opportunities. The human element is being replaced by screens, robots & machines. Researchers from the University of Oxford are claiming that approximately 47% of all currently existing jobs have a high chance of being taken over by machines within the next 20 years. Brands are as well transforming into intangible mediums rather than the static conventions. Brands should focus on visual content, tap into the world of wearable technologies; they should focus on ‘live’ and real-time engagement while keeping the classic element of ‘story-telling’. Customers are becoming brand influencers and ambassadors, user-generated content is the drive. Brands should hammer on the power of convergence, as creativity is now becoming a social act. For it to be “shareable”, content has not only to be meaningful but also makes you look “fashionable/cool” to share and be part of it, while still triggering the main factors of either humor, emotion, shock or sex appeal.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
GW: Designing brands that people could own and relate to is the only way we can make it in the constant bombardment and growth of brands. Creating guidelines that fit each and every platform is definitely also one of the challenging tasks. This is even more common in case of an international brand; language barriers could also form a huge challenge. For example, creating a bilingual brand that feels, looks and even communicates the same to the consumer both in Arabic and English Language, may seem an easy task but is much more complex when it comes to application. Also creating a brand that is consistent and yet not boring nor predictable is another uneasy task. A lot of brands fall in the trap of following the holy identity guidelines without focusing on creativity, innovation and change. The target group is also a huge factor that identity designers need to consider, brands that target various segments are harder to design for than brands with specific/smaller target groups. In the world of brand clutter, differentiation from the market competition is also another challenge. I think some of the common mistakes that designers fall into while attempting a global appeal are: 1. Copying, is one of the major mistakes designers could fall into. Creating an identity by default means creating a new unique being. Copying market leaders does not mean gaining the same successes at all. Designers should always look for and magnify what makes their brand special even if it is a start-up. 2. Irrelevance, designing is not a process of art, its main role is to serve the market. If the identity does not relate to the targeted audience or the nature of the industry then it is a failure! Relevance is not only about the target group, but also about choosing the typography, colors and elements that reflect the nature/industry of the brand correctly.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
GW: The power of Graphic Design is all around us, often without us even noticing, for Ghada this omnipresence captivated her. “The unseen hand of the graphic designer enhances and molds every area of our lives; books, road signs, logos, websites,” Ghada tells. For her Graphic Design’s potential is not in being static artwork, with the belief that “graphic design can change the world” at the core of her ethos. “Its power as a tool for positive change is undeniably strong, just look at the 2011 Revolution, the city was flooded with graphic design, (posters, signs, graffiti). Visual communication spoke louder than words when the voices of 90 million voices were censored.” This outlook allows her to not just pour her talent into her work, as she reveals, “I work with my heart and emotion. We have a responsibility to use our talent to have a positive impact”.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
GW: OUR FUTURETHE FUTURE OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE LIES IN THE HANDS OF DESIGNERS AND SCIENTISTSThe relationship between designers and scientists is essential to our future. Innovation in the sciences is always linked in some way, either directly or indirectly, to a human experience. And human experiences happen through engaging with the arts – listening to music, say, or seeing a piece of art. Superior innovation comes from bringing divergents (the artists and designers) and convergents (science and engineering) together. Look at Apple’s iPod. A perfect example of technology – an MP3 player – that existed for a long time but that nobody ever wanted, until design made it something desirable, useful, integrated into your lifestyle.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
GW: people, places, everything, everyone, everywhere. To develop her work and improve her talents, she practices daily to enhance her skills, “drawings, sketches, conceptualization, watching tutorials, reading design books, following the global scene, and latest trending articles.” She is also keen on attending major design conferences, workshops, exhibitions, competitions and design events happening around the world.

FS: 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?
GW: multidisciplinary

FS: 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?
GW: “one who doesn’t have a history, does not have a future. I create work that is relevant to who I am and where I come from. My aim is to encompass the Arab and Egyptian ?avor in my work so that our beautiful Arab identity can be proudly showcased to the world.” “I want to create a visual revolution in Egypt, I want to spread Graphic Design education and increase awareness of its necessity in our daily lives.” Her ambitions are big, “I hope that one day I can be responsible for implementing the role of Graphic Design in Education, Health, Politics and any fields where design can contribute to promoting, maximizing and reviving our country.” “Cairo is very male driven. As a Creative Team Leader I had difficulty in managing young males because they couldn’t accept a female leader.” Her trials weren’t restricted to Cairo, “if you are an Arab you’re automatically put in the ‘terrorist/danger’ zone. Being an Arab woman is even worse! An Arab woman is raised with a million battles that she has to resolve before she can even start believing in herself. There are dusty layers of gender inequality, peer pressure, religious and race dilemmas. If she manages to shake what has been built up for years, only then she can break free and start battling the next monster,”

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
GW: she/he has to be offering content that is not offered elsewhere

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
GW: From the people, by the people, to the people.” is a great motto that I always keep in my head while working on identity projects. In my working process, spending time of research and inspiration from the actual thing (people/place/product/service) I am working on is an essential asset to producing real, relevant and honest story-telling designs, People (consumer) for me constitute the main drive and cause of any design project I’m about to embark. I chose to spend time to study and explore their behavior, where they talk about their experience in the place and their real stories. Observing, recording, taking notes, taking pictures, running surveys, interviews etc. This process, which in turn inspires and expands the horizon if any designer in building a great successful brand. Of course in our very fast moving world, not all tasks I am assigned to could have a flexible timeline for a full satisfactory journey. However, working in advertising has made me work effectively under a pressured working mode that requires fast and constant results in best qualities.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
GW: sketchbook, imac, wakom, design books, coffee mug

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
GW: work work work work

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
GW: “I am sure that for every story that is recognized, there are a million stories that have failed to reach the public.” In the face of all of these hardships, she sees Arab women as the most resilient and enigmatic women on the planet. Ghada aspires to be a role model for Arab girls wanting to follow their dreams. “If I manage through my work to truly inspire one person, that beats anything else that anyone can ever experience.”

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
GW: being a creator is a quality of god. The world is not ready for creation.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
GW: original, relevance, honest

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
GW: brain, soul, vision

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
GW: oday, the accessibility of quick online tutorials and easy-to-learn graphic design software created a generation of non-professional designers producing a lower quality work. “Nowadays, the internet makes it possible for everyone to become whatever they want – and this is a double blade. Designing is not only about using the tools but also the brains and theory behind every design decision taken.” Wali explained. Having said that, she also acknowledges there are “a lot of exceptional amazing” self-taught designers.

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
GW: i still need help on time management

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
GW: could take months to years

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
GW: what is your job exactly?!!!

FS: What was your most important job experience?
GW: working on rebranding the city of luxor

FS: Who are some of your clients?
GW: pepsico, islamic museum in egypt, boston consulting, egyptian tourism authority, danone..etc

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
GW: design with cause. Because I want to change the world.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
GW: Save the world with design.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
GW: both.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
GW: confidential

FS: How can people contact you?
GW: gw@ghadawali.comwww.ghadawali.com


FS: Thank you for providing us with this opportunity to interview you.

A’ Design Award and Competitions grants rights to press members and bloggers to use parts of this interview. This interview is provided as it is; DesignPRWire and A' Design Award and Competitions cannot be held responsible for the answers given by participating designers.


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