Aaquib Wani is a musician, an artist, an experiential designer and art director based in New Delhi. He is known for combining traditional graphic design elements with fashion, art, and styling to create incredibly unique visuals. Aaquib has over a decade of experience in the creative field. He opened his design studio – Aaquib Wani Design – in 2018, wherein he focuses on branding, art direction, space design, installations and designing custom jackets.

Aaquib has worked as a creative head with Rock Street Journal and also with Sumant Jayakrishnan for experiential design. He is known for designing some of the best known festivals in India and also some of the biggest weddings including both the Ambani weddings. He’s worked on a collaboration with Levi’s for customised jackets as well. Aaquib is currently the creative head for PVR’s new members-only venue – Home.

AWD is looking forward to launch a line of shirts, trousers and bomber jackets made from ikat and garment factory waste end of 2019. Aaquib is also collaborating with small-time artisans who are skilled in traditional Indian arts like Madhubani and Pattachitra to put out a jacket collection.

We caught up with Aaquib Wani after his panel – India’s Rising Creative Entrepreneurs – at Music Inc to talk about music and art.

  1. What was your take away from Music Inc 2.0?
    • Music Inc 2.0 has been incredibly informative for me. The insights from the numerous presentations – from business heads, independent artists & entrepreneurs gave me a deeper understanding of where the Indian music industry stands currently. Being a part of the independent music scene myself, it felt good to know the growth prospects that are envisioned for the next 5 years. There is hope and action seems to be in the right hands!
    • Networking with industry professionals was another big take away – we know the platforms and hear about things being done but don’t actually get to know who is doing these things so that was a good thing.
    • The workshop by Arthur Pingrey was absolutely fantastic – I got to hear so much new music and learn how artists are making new tunes. I am sure for the ones selected; it must have been even more amazing! Even the talk with Raftaar – he came across as such a genuine and hardworking artist and these are things we miss out on when we only hear songs – the other side of the person following their passion enough to make something out of it.
  2. What do you think is the state and scope of music in the present scenario in India?
    • As far as Bollywood is concerned, I think the scope and state of it is growing with great speed. International artists wanting to do collaborations with our musicians and them being invited across the globe for the biggest events is a clear indicator that this is a good space for them.
    • As far as the independent music industry is concerned, there is still a long way to go – yes, bands and artists have had a great touring year abroad but within the country, except for the DJ sets, the scene is pretty much dead especially the metal/rock bands. I have witnessed the peak and the burn-out of such amazing musicians and it’s a sad state of affairs on ground. We need more venues for live music, we need more of a push financially and media wise for this section. There is still a long way to go within India and also to get them out at a global level.
  3. How do you think different industries/government can contribute to the music culture?
    • There are lots of ways in which the industries and government can contribute to the growth of the music culture. Firstly, allocate more funds to the independent arts. Second, create awareness through programs; these can be more cultural events, competitions, awareness drives etc . Third, integrate music into learning in all schools, collaborate and open more music oriented schools and colleges and have music as a degree subject to create more value, opportunities and work scope and bring it into the mainstream.
    • Industries can sponsor music scholarships and programs for talented and/or under privileged children, many of whom are bursting with talent but don’t have the means or knowledge to take it forward as a full time career.
  4. How do you think live music can be integrated into different sections of the industry?
    • I like how for this World Cup they have live music playing throughout the matches and not just a DJ blasting songs! We can easily replicate this for our own football, hockey, badminton leagues. Even politicians used small time musicians to come with raps and songs for the elections so we know we are getting there! As I mentioned earlier, we will need the government and bigger industries to put some funds into this and get the ball rolling. Live music is a big part of the entertainment industry but I think we need more people to know about other live acts apart from the Bollywood ones- they are as good sometimes even better just without proper knowledge or a clear path. People are moving away from conventional DJs to live acts for events, weddings, birthdays and social gatherings which is a reassuring sign. I also see corporate companies have their internal bands and competitions for their own employee engagement, which again brings focus not only on work but on passions and gives people a chance to showcase their music skills too!
  5. How did the move from music to designing for other industries happen for you?
    • So, music was never a career, it is a passion which I discovered and honed during my school/college years. I was part of a metal band (Phobia) and then my first job, was at Rock Street Journal, as their designer. This is where designing for music happened – album art, covers, t-shirts for bands etc. So working as a designer for a music company is how music got integrated into design for me. I have always been into art and knew that, that would make up my career.
    • Post RSJ [I joined] Scenografia Sumant, which is a wedding/space design company. Under Sumant, I learnt to use my design skills to create sets, stages, live experiences and interiors. So that’s how I moved from designing just for the music scene to being an experiential designer. Now, I have a studio of my own – Aaquib Wani Design, where I look at all aspects of design across industries and spaces, branding projects and even have my own line of hand-painted customised jackets.
  6. What was your experience designing the Ambani wedding?
    • Being a part of the most lavish weddings across the country and a few global ones, I am used to creating extravagant sets and designs. But both the Ambani weddings were a different ball game all together! For the first, we created the launch of their campaign – ‘Swadesh Bazaar’ in Udaipur. Working with traditional artisans is something I love so this was right up my alley. Creating a full-fledged souk of sorts with detailed structures was not only a learning experience but expanded my design skills to include interiors and visual merchandising as well. The second wedding in Mumbai was like creating a whole new world within a city. From the moment you entered the venue till you left, there were different design aspects not only to see but played through all the senses. The scale for both was something never seen before and the magnitude of all the events, sets, accessories, florals was an experience which is difficult to put down in words!
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