UNSCRIPTED with Satyendra Pakhalé: The Truth of the Matter

A closer look at the life of Amsterdam-based Indian designer Satyendra Pakhalé, his love for painting, and his sacred trust in the power of curiosity, reveals this UNSCRIPTED episode.

by Zohra KhanPublished on : Nov 12, 2021

Satyendra Pakhalé is constantly sketching, using whatever materials are at hand – perhaps his favourite Apsara 6B graphite pencil, or the watercolour kit he made for himself. The Satyendra Pakhalé Archives contain several elaborately drawn portraits in pen and ink as well as several spontaneous studies made on restaurant paper mats and napkins. He started drawing as a child and has never stopped. When he set up his studio, Pakhalé also began a daily practice of painting a watercolour on handmade cotton paper using just one brush. Within these self-imposed limits – basic tools, a paper size of 12.5 × 17.5 cm and a single truncated brush – the idea is to focus on the practice of ‘thinking through abstraction’. In his watercolour sketches, we can follow a process of free exploration, watch the realm of ‘poetic analogies’ taking shape, and (sometimes) glimpse the form of a specific project emerging from them. The selected watercolours on the following pages illustrate Pakhalé’s daily habit of letting go of the control of the rational mindset and surrendering instead to intuition and unconscious foresight.

- Jane Szita, Editor of the book 'Satyendra Pakhalé: Culture of Creation'

  • Satyendra Pakhalé says that he has been doing aquarelles in the morning for many years now | UNSCRIPTED with Satyendra Pakhalé | Interviews | STIRworld
    Satyendra Pakhalé says that he has been doing aquarelles in the morning for many years now Image: © Satyendra Pakhalé Associates
  • “I consciously choose to do aquarelles and not something else because of the same conception like life. You can’t go back. Once you make a stroke, you make a stroke.” | UNSCRIPTED with Satyendra Pakhalé | Interviews | STIRworld
    “I consciously choose to do aquarelles and not something else because of the same conception like life. You can’t go back. Once you make a stroke, you make a stroke.” Image: © Satyendra Pakhalé Associates
  • He paints the first thing when he gets to his studio | UNSCRIPTED with Satyendra Pakhalé | Interviews | STIRworld
    He paints the first thing when he gets to his studio Image: © Satyendra Pakhalé Associates

On UNSCRIPTED this week, we catch up with Satyendra Pakhalé, the Amsterdam-based multifaceted Indian designer who walks us through his memorable childhood escapades, his tryst with design, the importance of curiosity in his life, and his passion for drawing.

  • A photo of Pakhalé from his teenage years | UNSCRIPTED with Satyendra Pakhalé | Interviews | STIRworld
    A photo of Pakhalé from his teenage years Image: © Satyendra Pakhalé Associates
  • Satyendra Pakhalé with his iconic work, the BM Horse | UNSCRIPTED with Satyendra Pakhalé | Interviews | STIRworld
    Satyendra Pakhalé with his iconic work, the BM Horse Image: © Satyendra Pakhalé Associates
  • His go-to design tool is his favourite 6B Apsara pencil | UNSCRIPTED with Satyendra Pakhalé | Interviews | STIRworld
    His go-to design tool is his favourite 6B Apsara pencil Image: © Satyendra Pakhalé Associates
  • Pakhalé at his Amsterdam studio | UNSCRIPTED with Satyendra Pakhalé | Interviews | STIRworld
    Pakhalé at his Amsterdam studio Image: © Satyendra Pakhalé Associates

Born in the central Indian city of Washim, Pakhalé's first exposure to the confluence of ideas was at his childhood home where its openness and social engagement spurred his consciousness. Belonging to a family of educators and doctors, he says he was fortunate that his affinity towards creativity and making new things was identified early on by his parents, and he was sent to the right school. “I studied at the Technical High School in Nagpur, India, which was a high school like any other school, where in addition to the primary subjects one also studied workshop technology, engineering drawings, etc. It was what you could call education that prepares you for the university and at the same time, one that prepares you with certain technological insights,” he explains in the 16-minute video conversation.

Being educated is not the idea which often people think that it’s about acquiring a certain degree. Education literally means being curious and to try finding the answer of that curiosity.
  • MVC - Modular Vaccines Carrier. 2021 | UNSCRIPTED with Satyendra Pakhalé | Interviews | STIRworld
    MVC - Modular Vaccines Carrier. 2021 Image: © Satyendra Pakhalé Associates
  • FRIDA Pitcher-Vase, Cor Unum. 2019| UNSCRIPTED with Satyendra Pakhalé | Interviews | STIRworld
    FRIDA Pitcher-Vase, Cor Unum. 2019 Image: © Satyendra Pakhalé Associates
  • Fish Chair, Cappellini. 2005 | UNSCRIPTED with Satyendra Pakhalé | Interviews | STIRworld
    Fish Chair, Cappellini. 2005 Image: © Nicole Marnati
  • Kayo Extensible Table, FIAM. 2015| UNSCRIPTED with Satyendra Pakhalé | Interviews | STIRworld
    Kayo Extensible Table, FIAM. 2015 Image: © Nicole Marnati
  • Culture of Creation: latest monograph by Satyendra Pakhalé | UNSCRIPTED with Satyendra Pakhalé | Interviews | STIRworld
    Culture of Creation: latest monograph by Satyendra Pakhalé Image: © Nicole Marnati

Referred to as ‘polymath designer with dazzling dexterity’, Pakhalé (b. 1967) has been trained in India and Switzerland and his practice straddles the fields of industrial design, digital products, furniture, architecture, art, and interior design. His design work is an act of unity going beyond any binary such as high and low-tech, industrial production and traditional crafts, functionality and poetic significance. He was part of the pioneering new business creation team at Philips Design in the mid-1990s, conceiving some of the first product ideas for new digital communication technologies and mobility design. Through a series of award-winning design projects for leading clients and industries, the practice has developed an international reputation for designing eclectic innovative typologies, pushing the limits of technology and materials. Some of his key clients include Alcantara, Alessi, Cappellini, FIAM, Franke, Hästens, Magis, Moroso, Poltrona Frau, Novartis, TUBES, TOD’s and Vaghi. He recently released a comprehensive monograph titled Satyendra Pakhalé: Culture of Creation, published on the body of his works by nai010 publishers, Rotterdam, NL.

On UNSCRIPTED, we discover a memorable story about ‘excitement nullifying fear’ from his time at the IIT Bombay from where he received his M.Des. Degree from the Industrial Design Centre, and also learn snippets from a roller coaster journey behind the making of one of his most iconic products – the BM Horse Collection.

All this and much more – tap on the cover video to watch the complete episode.

All photographs © Satyendra Pakhalé Associates, unless stated otherwise. Images may not be downloaded, copied, reproduced or used in part or whole without obtaining permission. The photographs in this video are not licensed for personal, commercial or public use, or use in the public domain in any form.

UNSCRIPTED:
Curated by PramitiMadhavji (Consultant, Content Adviser, STIR), UNSCRIPTED is a STIR-original series of quick-witted video interviews with leading design professionals who give us an undiscovered peek into their lives. A melting pot of quests, revelations and quirks, the series releases a new episode every Sunday as designers reveal unheard and unknown nuggets from their lives, in response to 30 questions.  

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