Heritage, modernisation go hand in hand for logo contest winner

Aziz Idris

Mohammad Abdul Aziz bin Haji Mohd Ali, affectionately known as Yoji, had only one design in mind when he entered the 36th National Day Logo Competition, and it was good enough to win – beating hundreds of other entries in the process.

The freelance graphic designer, who turns 36 in October, received his prize last week during the Brunei Book Festival 2020, with top officials from the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports present.

Aziz won BND1,000 for his logo which carries the theme Menjayakan Wawasan Negara or ‘Achieving the National Vision’. The logo was used on a range of official promotional materials for Brunei’s 36th National Day.

Most notably, the enticing logo was inspired by the Brunei heritage songket anyaman or weaving flower motif, the Bunga Putar – loosely translated as ‘spinning flower’. This carries the sense of a national treasure that plays a vital role in the formation of a nation. The flower represents Brunei as a country that remains blooming alongside a dynamic development for nation building by always upholding the Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB) philosophy.

Looking from the inside, the logo signifies that the nation is looking forward towards achieving Brunei Vision 2035.

Mohammad Abdul Aziz bin Haji Mohd Ali, affectionately known as Yoji. PHOTO: AZIZ IDRIS

It uses striking colours that reflect modernisation and diversity, bringing a vibrant atmosphere to the country.

Aziz believes that a logo must include elements of innovation and heritage, which must go hand-in-hand, not as separate ideas. With the logo, he made sure both elements are seamlessly combined.

“This logo encapsulates the simplicity, equality and sense of purpose that citizens of Brunei have for the progress of the nation,” he shared.

Explaining where the inspiration behind the logo came from, Aziz said he was attracted to 1999’s Southeast Asian (SEA) Games logo when Brunei hosted the event.

“I mixed the Bunga Putar with elements of the SEA Games logo. I incorporated the edges and striking colours. I really love it,” he added.

He highlighted, “Tradition is important in design. We sometimes forget this. When you visualise something and you work hard to achieve it, the design will eventually come to life. What you visualize will materialise.”

Since quitting his job as a policeman with the Royal Brunei Police Force seven years ago, Aziz has become a full-fledged freelance designer, using his talent to become a budding entrepreneur.

The ex-policeman admits it was not easy to make the decision at first but he acknowledged his superiors during his time in the force for always giving support and encouragement in his design skills. He also lauded his mentors during his transition into a designer for always believing in him.

“Without these important people in my life, who gave me the right advice and always gave constructive criticisms, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” he chimed.

Aziz now owns his own apparel brand as well as a modest fashion brand for men, which he designed himself to suit the climate and taste of Bruneian people.

His designs always focus intently on his client’s requirements, which sometimes means the designs can range from the edgy to very professional to super-corporate.

As a freelancer in Brunei, Aziz tends to work odd hours but still finds time for his family. “I’m slightly nocturnal – I’m a night owl. All the design samples/ layout sketches I do are after midnight or earlier hours in the morning.”

“I seldom turn down projects. Even if it’s a not guaranteed project and the project doesn’t pay as much, I spend time on it and try to make designs for the client and send them across for feedback.”

“That’s a key part, coaxing out of the client what they really want,” he added.

For Aziz, money does not come first. The key part is coaxing out of the clients what they really want. “Client engagement is really important. Once they see a design, the client quickly engages with new ideas, specific feedback, examples and references.”

“To me, a design is supposed to be a solution to a problem. Sometimes we take these designs for granted,” he said. “We would go further together if the creative talents collaborate rather than just work individually for personal gain.

“The way I see it, we can achieve our national vision if the creative talents can work together and find the best solutions for the development of the nation,” he added.