by Jincy IypeAug 17, 2020
Much like the multidiverse, colourful spectrum of cultures, architecture, languages, religions and cuisines that form the unique identity of India, this chapter of Made In:, a STIR original series that looks inward to celebrate native design from all over the world, highlights the nuances and range found within the product design industry of the hearty South Asian country. A remarkable intermingling of the old and new, traditional and modern, functional and aesthetic, lays out a buffet of colourful possibilities spiced with diverse, sophisticated designs.
Leading the design curation is Anubhav Gupta, an award-winning designer and innovator who trained at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Cambridge as an architect, urban designer and economist. Gupta is the founder of GPL Design Studio at Godrej – a unique multi-disciplinary innovation engine with a mandate for design, product development and brand building. He currently serves as Executive Vice President at Godrej Properties, where he leads as Business Head, and also dons the hat of company’s Chief CSR and Sustainability Officer. Gupta, who has featured in publications like Forbes, GQ, Mondo Arc and Elle Décor, strongly believes in putting the user at the heart of every enterprise, and using design thinking to leverage value across the 7Ps - People, Processes, Partnerships, Product, Place, Profit and Planet.
Programmed as a community centre for the residential towers of the Club at The Trees, the Vikhroli (Mumbai) project is a 34-acre mixed-use development for Godrej Properties, designed in collaboration with Studio Lotus. Built as the experience centre for The Trees, Imagine Studio was envisaged as a microcosm of the master plan where we see two former co-generation plants and a boiler repurposed into a studio and café respectively. The group’s headquarters in Mumbai, the 12 storey Godrej One is designed with Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects and draws strong connections between the building’s users, local culture and nature.
We are yet to fully recognise the truest and immense potential of wearing a globally celebrated label of ‘Made in India’ with pride, and I hope this selection brings us closer to that dream. – Anubhav Gupta, Founder, GPL Design Studio
“Artisanal craftsmanship, an eye for detail and a narrative of what it means to be a modern Indian best describes the current identity of the design industry here. We often talk about ‘Make in India’ but we rarely speak of ‘Design In India’ – something that is so unique because of our rich and complex history, processes and traditions seeped in cultural, religious and political affiliations. Made in India perhaps aims to showcase and celebrate both, design and its production in our country,” says Gupta. Speaking about his curation, he relays that he wanted to select passionate designers who shared a rigour for research, harboured deep respect for materials and the earth, fostered a need to reinterpret history and relevant traditions in interesting ways and addressed the evolving aspirations of the well-travelled Indian.
“A strong focus on storytelling with a unique blend of cultures between the old and new, traditional and modern, aesthetics and eco-friendly processes, unite these designers, ranging from upcycling waste into products, reviving traditional crafts and supporting the skills of craftsmen and artisans,” observes Gupta.
Here is a selection of designers and collectives in an arbitrary order, their works representing the diverse and modish product design industry in India – works that are a ray of hope in reviving a post-pandemic economy.
Sahgal founded her boutique design house Mishcat Co in 2013, with an unparalleled emphasis on marrying traditional Indian crafts and colours with sustainable design. Her team upcycles waste sari yarn and scraps to weave exquisite, luxurious and bespoke carpets, made by a powerful network of artisans and weavers from rural areas of Rajasthan and Gujarat.
“The beauty of our carpets is that they vary from artisan to artisan, from yarn to yarn. All collections celebrate inconsistencies that can’t be replicated by machine or man, making each piece lovingly unique.”
After collecting the finest leftover silk fibre from the sari industry in South India, the raw material is sorted into colour families of ivory, neutrals, beiges, browns, blues, greens, purples, yellows and oranges. This colour sorted yarn is spun into threads to create spools that are ready to be woven into customised carpets. A hand sketched idea is translated to software to generate a blueprint that acts as a guide for the artisan to hand knot each piece, resulting in her magnificent rug collection. “We experimented with infusing this sari silk onto a wool base, and are also looking into upcycled linen and other sustainable materials to expand our practice,” says the designer who has also been featured in Forbes 30 Under 30 (Asia - Industry, Manufacturing and Energy, 2018).
The mesmerising Peacock Rug with its bejeweled colours set against a charcoal background is an ode to India’s national bird, completed in their signature hand knotted, upcycled sari silk, and can also be used as a majestic wall hanging. Resembling a quiet watercolour painting, the nature inspired colour palette of the Luxe Rug was influenced by Sahgal’s childhood in Chandigarh, Punjab. “One of the things I can recall when I think of my family home is the lush garden speckled generously with fuchsia pink flowers that ran along elongated plant beds, a place where I spent many lazy afternoons,” Sahgal reminisces.
The dreamlike feroze blue Herat Rug draws from Sahgal’s early memories of getting lost in fairytales, of entering faraway lands and enchanted forests, woven in adventure and magic. The Polonia Rug is distinct in its use of unpredictable, untamable colours, in the rugged calmness of its base, and the soothing jewel topped bed of flowers.
Sidnal is an architect, biomimetic designer and a researcher, and the founder of Carbon Craft Design, a Mumbai-based design and material innovation company started in 2016. He has been researching the field of biomimicry for the past nine years, with a passion for exploring sustainable innovative strategies and combating climate change with design as a weapon. Carbon Craft Design lies at the intriguing intersection of technology, craft and design, and consists of a group of architects and engineers seeking to develop carbon offsetting products, in an attempt to reduce air pollution from urban settlements.
“We build products by upcycling air pollution.”
Reducing air pollution is not just a technological challenge, but surely requires an intervention of design, according to the Carbon Craft Design team. How can one do that? Well, Sidnal and his team sought ways to upcycle captured air pollution particles, which led to Carbon Tiles. “We have been prototyping various iterations that have led us to develop the first building material made with air pollution. Particulate Matter (PM) in polluted air that otherwise reaches our lungs is used in creating the tiles such as ‘Identile’ and ‘Industile’,” reveals Sidnal.
Carbon emissions are collected from factory exhausts, extracted and then converted to slurry and dry mixes, and combined with waste marble chips and binder. Craftsmen then pour this mix into molds which compresses them into tiles, and are later cured and shipped to customers. “We are moving towards making a more affordable range of Carbon Tiles for wider implementation, along with developing other building materials and lifestyle, décor products with this process as well. Carbon Craft Design’s vision is to upcycle as much carbon emission as possible and eventually build an entire building made out of construction material fashioned from upcycled carbon,” concludes Sidnal. Imagine the possibilities!
Pleasingly mysterious and doused in the endurance of the handmade, Farooqui launched Injiri (translates to Real India) - her minimal clothing brand - in 2009, believing in the timeless beauty of indigenous hand woven processes. The Rajasthan-based brand makes clothing for women and fabrics for home, focusing on textile development and use of sustainable materials and practices. With a degree in Fine Arts and a Masters in Textile Design, Farooqui unravels tactile stories behind the making of a garment.
“We aim to create a body of work that explores the narrative of handwoven and handmade textiles of India and beyond, celebrating a fabric from its inception in the yarn to its manifestation in the tangible end product.”
“India, across her length and breadth, has been the land of extraordinary handwoven fabric of multifarious styles, colours, textures and unique features, pertaining to the specific region they are grown and spun in. Our process centers on working closely with master weavers and their textile vocabulary, across various parts of the country. We are in constant conversation with these keepers of intangible human heritage,” shares Farooqui.
Her fabrics can be described as timeless, antique and simple – her appreciation for Indian garment construction and the handmade grew manifold with her travels to diverse parts of the country – museums in Lucknow, regional clothing in Ladakh, stitched costumes of Gujarat and Rajasthan, and so on. “The simplest of clothes worn by peasants, farmers and the common man inspire us the most,” Farooqui says, explaining Injiri’s aesthetic of simple patterns, light coloured fabric and meek motifs.
All of Inijiri’s home products are woven from organic or kala cotton fibre, which gives them their characteristic texture and colour, like old world cotton. The Ahir home collection derives its title from the Aheer clan of Kutch, and is composed of slight bursts of colour stitched onto the distinguishing base of off-white fabric. The Rebari collection also employs subdued whites and blacks. “The key inspiration behind the name has been the graphic use of such tones by the pastoral Rabari community of Kutch,” informs the official website.
“We need to produce slow, less and emphasise on skill and use of organic materials, instead of lethal, cheap and mass produced products,” Farooqui states.
Anchoring his designs in innovation and flexibility, Bansal’s oeuvre spans a wide range of projects, from residential and commercial to product design. His multidisciplinary design and research practice Tuba Design was founded in 2015 and remains dedicated to interior design and its byproducts, along with manufacturing bespoke furniture, home accessories as well as lifestyle products.
Bansal shares that his team comprises highly skilled craftsmen and artisans who he often interacts and spends time with, to create his handsomely neat objects seeped in clear functionality and sophistication. “Any sort of design needs to have a solid narrative. It becomes even more fascinating when immersed in meaning, resulting in a consistent, engaging product,” he says.
“I try to be as meticulous as possible in my creative process, and follow an approach to design that is resourcefully modern, clean and minimal.”
Bansal experiments with various materials such as brass, bronze, copper and steel in his handcrafted Brianna Collection, dominated by dusky hues and straight, orthodox lines. Comprising cuboidal candle sticks, book holders, vases, lanterns, bins and paper trays, the minimal products “breathe and see through architecturally-inspired geometric laser cut patterns. The collection’s versatility fits into any space, and yet stands out to make a subtle, timeless statement,” says Bansal.
Tuba Design’s first handcrafted furniture collection, Kogeta (Japanese for burnt and also known as Yakisugi) is informed by three challenging materials – leather, patinated steel and burnt wood, the latter a central design and visual element. Charred and waxed to perfection and comprising a study chair, screen, stool, bar cabinet, coffee table, console desk, bench and ottoman, the rustic and sensual assortment is inspired by Shou Sugi Ban, an ancient Japanese method of weatherproofing and preserving wood that involves burning it until it turns black.
Lifestyle furniture brand SPIN, founded by Avenish Jain, Manish Jain, Ashish Jain and Neeraj Ajwaniis, is known for its solid coloured, pertinent designs. SPIN derives its maxim from a mix of Nordic and Japanese inspired minimal design philosophies set in modern industrial products. A combination of metal, fabric and various types of wood informs their material palette, fused with modern joineries and technological processes, including CNC, laser machines and automated finishing setups that create cutting edge products.
“In a country where detailing equates beauty, SPIN is a rebel by design. We intend to create honest, accessible products that infuse creativity, joy and a sense of space. Our brand name derives from exploring fresh possibilities by giving a ‘spin’ to existing forms,” explains Avenish, Design Director, SPIN.
“SPIN is a mindset. It is a discovery. It is an aberration. It is a story-in-formation.”
Made with oak wood and aluminium and composed in bright shades of banana yellow, teal blue and matte black, their edgy Three Desk Organiser is imagined for personal use, and keeps desks clutter free. The cylindrical holder houses writing stationery, the slots hold business cards while pins, post-its and staplers can be kept atop the tray. “The three-part piece can be used as a whole or three individual units,” shares the design team. The solid Native Seating Collection comprises couches, daybeds, ottomans and armchairs that are composed in elegant stitching and meticulous selection of fabric. “The cushions are casually placed in precise angles, thickness and dimensions, to bring about a comfortable sitting experience,” observes Avenish. SPIN’s lightweight Nyx Lounger “celebrates cozy minimalism,” in its clean design and craftsmanship. A folded aluminium sheet with a double bend in the centre augments the seating while the coloured, slim cushioning crafts comfort and keeps its sharp form intact.
Curated by Amit Gupta and Pramiti Madhavji, STIR X Script presents Made In: an original series that features curated selections of product designers across countries, showcasing modern, sustainable, homegrown design.
SCRIPT – A Godrej Venture
Combining beauty and intelligence, SCRIPT, part of Godrej Group, makes multifaceted furniture and accessories that are luxurious, interactive and refreshing. Furniture that cares for the smallest details, the planet, as well as the user. The brand’s products are purposeful and aesthetic, designed entirely around and for the user, to give them a fluid living experience that SCRIPT calls ‘Freedom of Living’.
Know more on www.scriptonline.com