The Designer’s Guide to Stereotypes

Described as being a visual record of stereotypes in modern thinking. “The Designer’s Guide to Stereotypes,” is a piece of mockery for those who use cliches and preconceived notions as part of their creative work. 26 year old, international child Saman Sohail created this guide as a reflection upon how the public might be treating and judging faceless individuals as a society. More than anything it is a subtle nudge and encouragement for designers to design and investigate past stereotypes. Sketchbook picked Saman’s brains to learn more about this one of a kind visual guid, and her inspiration behind it.

 

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Tell our readers a little about yourself and your background.

I am 26 and a very international child. Born in Saudi Arabia to Pakistani parents, lived in Pakistan, Iran, Dubai and Saudi but travelling all over the world while growing up, finished my education in London with a BA Hons Graphic Design from Kingston University and an MA in Graphic Branding and Identity from the London College of Communication.

Fun Fact: I can never answer the question about what my favorite city in the world is!

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What was your main motivation behind this project? 

This particular project was part of my final master’s thesis at LCC. I had started observing this while my time in the UK. London is a beautiful city to be in but I did observe a lot of stereotyping in the local culture, particularly the national television and news that form a huge part of people’s perceptions. I later found out through my research that these also form people’s opinions and preferences about certain products and brands.

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How do you think this book will help designers? 

This book was a somewhat humorous take on how various aspects of peoples personalities are usually represented around us. It was a ‘what not to do’ instead of a rule book of any sort. I also wanted to encourage designers to break the moulds of stereotyping and understand their audiences beyond these visuals.

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What stereotypes does the book touch on? Why do you think they are relevant? 

The book explores a wide collection of stereotypes that include cultural, religious, age, music preference, typographic etc. Some are definitely more relevant than others. This is shown by giving them more emphasis in some way or the other through the use of paper folds or repetition.

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In your opinion, has the public’s view of the “Faceless Audience,” as you’ve called them, changed in the past 10 years? If so, how has this change translated in the design world? 

Firstly, I think it’s quite the opposite: the design world dictates and moulds peoples perception rather than the other way round. How things are shown in advertisements, brands, animations etc over a period of time is a very important aspect of how we start to think as a society.

 

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If you talk about the last 10 years, one can not ignore the internet and its exposure and openness of information. This is a total game changer as far as perceptions are concerned. The term ‘Global Village’ is quite popularly used now implying a world without boundaries. The design world has to now adapt even more and create content for a far wider audience than it did ever before.

 

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What kind of feedback have you received on this project? 

As this was part of my thesis, the best feedback I could get was a merit in my final grade! The project was much appreciated in the university degree show by a range of educators and designers.

 

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What are your future plans?

I am currently working as a lecturer in the College of Design at the University of Dammam in Dammam, Saudi Arabia teaching Graphic Design,  Illustration, Branding and Typography as well as engaging design students in a practice of observing the world around them through research and observation and understand their role as designers in their society. I am also a freelance brand consultant.