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Graphic Design

Aparna Ashok

Aparna is a multi-disciplinary designer and self-portrait photographer based in India. She is driven by research and curiosity about the complexities of human experience and identity. 

Before studying MA Visual Communication at the Royal College of Art, Aparna completed her BA in Visual Arts at Stella Maris College in Chennai, India. 

Aparna’s work centres around social benefit through the creation of scenarios and opportunities for interaction. She works across the fields of graphic design, photography, art direction, curation and filmmaking. Her practice is rooted in creating curated designed experiences.

Degree Details

School of Communication

Graphic Design

Culture, traditions and customs make up a very important part of our identities; they shape who we are as individuals and as societies. India is a country that’s rich in diverse cultures and traditions, but in today’s technologically driven world, some of these ancient customs and traditions seem to have no place in people’s minds. With each passing day, a tradition is lost to ignorance and western-centric ideas of progress. 

We’ve had to live our lives in isolation and in bubbles, separated from family and loved ones due to the global pandemic; forgetting ourselves, each other and as a result our identities.

Over the past year, I’ve grown tired of the interaction I was having through my 16inch computer screen. I was beginning to feel numb and desensitised to all the things happening in the world. I wanted to change that, remind myself and people to feel and to empathise; make them rediscover and reclaim their identities by getting in touch with their roots.

Could these ancient traditions actually have the power to get us through something as strange as the situation we are in now? Can they give us the mental strength and support we all yearn for during these times? My research-led process, including interviews, workshops and desk research, aims to unpack some of these big questions and break them down into tangible experiences that can help change people’s understanding of themselves and the world around them.  

My work is built on the tradition of ancestral worship. My primary aim through this project is to not only revive an ancient tradition but help people get through these uncertain times by giving them an opportunity to connect with family and rediscover their roots; understand who their ancestors were so that they can value their lives in the present. Each experience is designed to take the participant on a self-reflective journey that aids in the release of emotions and expression of feelings, drawing the participant’s attention to the benefit of thinking about their ancestors.  

As a designer, I’m guilty of believing that design has the power to change the world, but I think that can only happen if we change the way people feel, think and do things, essentially breaking them out of their comfort zones to make them see things differently and that is what my work does.

Release me from this state of Limbo

How are we remembered after we die? When our physical presence is no longer there to reinforce our place in society or help mark our existence. Do we then just disappear? Do we become an amorphous form of energy, with nothing to anchor us down?

Limbo is an experimental film that urges the viewer to remember their ancestors by recalling memories, experiences and stories they have shared. These memories ultimately help restore their identities, giving the life they lived value and meaning.

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Website / Film / Experience / Workshop
Reclaim and discover your identity by remembering your roots
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Your experience kit

I Just Want You To Remember Me, is a series of interactive and participatory experiences that is based on the ancient age-old tradition of ancestral worship. With each experience, the participant is encouraged to remember an ancestor and think about the life they used to live. 

This project aims to reconnect people with their roots by exploring the effect ritual-like actions have on the mind. Each experience is carefully curated to aid in the release of any pent up emotions, ultimately unpacking whether these actions really have the potential to reset our minds and help us cope with any unresolved feelings of grief; bringing us closer to each other and ourselves. 

We are always watching is an experience that is based on the concept of identity and explores human behaviour in relation to the idea of privacy.

Circles of life is inspired by the act of circumambulation and therefore the effect it has on the human mind. 

Dear dearly departed is a very personal experience that is based on the symbolism behind the Tibetan prayer flags. The experience encourages the participant to release any pent up emotions through the act of writing. 

Smell a memory draws its main source of inspiration from the science behind olfactory memory. Through this experience participants actively engage in recreating a smell that reminds them of a memory they associate with their ancestors.

This site is best viewed on a desktop. For seamless viewing on a mobile screen, please use landscape mode.

Based in India?

If you are interested in receiving a kit and participating in this experience-based workshop, click on the link to sign-up


Kit / Experience / Website / Workshop