Taariq Latiff

On the Mic: Taariq Latiff from Open CPT

We recently asked Taariq Latiff, BTech Product Designer and Creative Director at Open CPT, to share some insight into his life as a designer and creative in the world of internal communication.

By Aneeqah Samsodien, Communication and Brand Specialist (March 2019).

How did your career in design start?

I was commissioned to create a logo for a hair nourishing product by my first client during the third year of my studies, which then grew into brochures and packaging. I went into depression when I started my first job after studying,  designing POS units for the makeup industry. There wasn’t much room for creativity and I resigned after just three months. I vowed that I would never again work for someone or a business where I was not growing creatively. I picked up some clients, started freelancing, and gradually grew into an independent creative studio.

How did you end up at Open, specialists in internal communication?

I went for an interview at Open after a friend referred me to see what it was about. The more I heard about internal communication, the more I felt that this is the type of thing I’ve been looking for, but didn’t know existed.

What is the purpose of creating meaningful design when communicating to employees?

Design is essential when you’re communicating with employees. It’s about using a modern approach to communicate stories simply and visually across different contexts and using different materials. We are visual beings that respond to visual communication, and this should be reflected in modern-day internal communication as well.

What do you like most about working for Open?

It’s always challenging. It keeps me on my toes and I am constantly learning new techniques. The system we work within is also really great as it gives me the ability to adapt and grow. I work with really amazing designers and strategists abroad, who are specialists of their craft and always have different ways of approaching a problem. I have access to a wealth of information that wouldn’t typically be readily available due to my location.

Where would you say your specialty lies?

I love conceptualising and having a broad understanding of materials, manufacturing processes and systems, making me a good problem solver.

What are some of the first childhood memories that made you realise you had a knack for design?

From a young age, I would spend a lot of time watching my mom – a signwriter and a real perfectionist – paint signage, posters and banners. Our dining room would always be filled with poster paper and paint brushes and I’d always play with the scraps. I would find cartoon characters I really liked and would spend hours trying to redraw them until I got the correct proportions.

In primary school, I was tasked to create a show-and-tell project of what my dream job is. I used our computer and, in Microsoft Word, I designed my own chocolate bar wrappers (I’ve always loved chocolate). I even created unique names for each of the imaginary chocolate bars. That’s pretty much how my design journey started.

As a designer, name one project you have always envisioned that you would like to achieve in your lifetime. 

I’ve been blessed – I have worked on and created most of the projects I’ve conceptualised and wanted to try thus far. I’d meet a client and they’d describe the product they would want and it ends up being something I had already thought about. Most of my dream projects have been given to me and the best thing is, I got paid to do it.

If we’re talking about personal projects, I would love to design food products or create my own perfume brand.

What are some of the creative challenges you face regularly and how do you remedy them?

I love working on multiple tasks at once; that’s how I’ve been operating from a young age. At Open, using time effectively is vital to everyday life. I get a variety of tasks to manage, but there is usually one big task or project that grounds me.

Why do you do what you do, and could you see yourself doing anything else?

Frustration fuelled my desire to become a designer. When I saw poor signage, visual communication products and architecture, I noticed gaps where people weren’t paying attention to the design and how it could be improved.

If I weren’t a product designer, I would probably be an artist or a chef. I would also like to design a hydroponic garden in my backyard one day (I love plants).

On the Mic is a series of blog posts that invite internal communication professionals to share their take on employee communication, their view on trends within the field and what rocks their boat. Feel free to send us tips on who should be ‘On the Mic’ next.