A recent assignment on packaging design gave me the chance to explore an intriguing yet often overlooked segment of retail in the country: the wholesale market. I say ‘overlooked’ because most packaging designers work on products sold directly to consumers through supermarkets, corner shops and home delivery networks. But there is a thriving, incredibly colourful world behind the crumbling facades of the ‘mandi’ or wholesale bazaar in India.

My particular visit took me to the APMC Yard in Bangalore where sacks of grain, flour and spices are brought in from mills across the country. Its a highly competitive space with manufacturers desperate to attract potential buyers with offers on quality and price, but a classic case study of how to brand a product that offers very little in terms of differentiation. Colour and iconography play a big role in the design of the bags as the often semi-literate customers have little time to stop and choose in a crowded warehouse. There is plenty of scope for design intervention as the layout on the bags is often stuffed full of information and looks incredibly crowded. There is little consistency among products of the same brand: the louder the colour the better and you know that most of the packs are just trying too hard. But you can’t help but marvel at the creativity that goes into the naming of some of these brands. As is typical for most solutions in India, when all else fails, invoke the Gods! A clean sophisticated Swiss-modernist approach isn’t always a good idea and needless to say I had a bit of fun designing something loud and shouty. Take a look at the slideshow for pictures from my walk around the market.

All images © Copyright Aditya Palsule