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January 2012 | # 19 Indian edition

Supported by

“Using only board markers, I completed a huge 760 x 230 cm wall illustration in four days.”

“Being an inventor at heart, the need for ‘something new’ has driven me ever since I can remember.”

Cagri Cankaya 03

Sanandan (Sandy) Sudhir 12

India’s First International Design Magazine D E S I G N • I N N OVAT I O N • C R E AT I V I T Y

0 ACCLAIM Sameer Sangaru 06

craft Aditi Prakash 22

Illustrator Harshvardhan Kadam 24


Kripa Ananthan

FASHION Anjana Das 28 EVENT Designing Communication for India - Vision 2020 04

Photographed by Ajmal Manzil

PHOTOGRAPHY Sameer Belvalkar 08

BLOGGER Amisha Desai, Riddhi Mankad 31


Position: Clarity

Abhijit Bansod Studio ABD, India

Kigge Hevid CEO, Index Awards, Denmark

Adil Darukhanawala Editor, Economic Times, Zigwheels, India

Kishor Singh Business Editor, India

Dr. Inyoung Albert Choi Professor, Hanyang University, Korea

Kohei Nishiyama Founder, Elephant Design, Japan

Anaezi Modu Rebrand, USA

Madhukar Kamath Managing Director and CEO, Mudra Group, India

Prof. Anil Sinha Principal, NID, India

M P Ranjan India

Anna Muoio Social Innovation, US

Prasoon Pandey Corcoise Films, India

Anuj Sharma Designer, India

Rajesh Kejriwal Kyoorius Exchange, India

Aradhana Goel Designer / Strategist, Ideo, USA

Rodney Fitch UK

Cathy Huang President, China Bridge Shanghai

Shilpa Das Head, Publications, NID, India

Craig Branigan Chairperson, Landor, CEO, B to D Group, USA

Dr Soumitra R Pathare Psychiatrist, India

Christopher Charles Benninger Architect, Studio CCBA, India

Shrikant Nivasarkar Founder, Nivasarkar Consultants, India

David Berman David Berman Communications, Canada

Subrata Bhowmik Subrata Bhowmik Design, India

Deepika Jindal Managing Director, Artdinox, India

Sudhir Sharma Designindia, India

Essam Abu Awad MIDAS, Jordan

Suresh Venkat CNBC, India

Hrridaysh Deshpande Innoastra, India

Uday Dandavate Sonicrim, USA

Jos Oberdof NPK Design, Netherland

Umesh Shukla Auryn, LA, USA

Julia Chiu Executive Director, JIDPO, Japan

William Drentell Winterhouse, USA

Kieu Pham Haki Brand, Vietnam

William Herald Wong WHW Design, Malaysia

Editor in Chief Sudhir Sharma

Finance Kuldeep Harit Deepak Gautam

Copy Editor Ashvina Vakil

Art & Design Pradeep Goswami Swapnil Gaikwad Sayali Satish Lonkar

Design Coordinator Shriya Nagi Research Team Maitreyi Doshi-Joshi Vaibhav Mohite Triveni Sutar Layout & Production Pradeep Arora Satyajeet Harpude Subscription & Logistics Seema Sharma

Jury–Dutch Design Awards 2011 at Eindhoven, The Netherlands Jury–Dutch Design Awards 2011 at Eindhoven, The Netherlands

What is your position on Anna Hazare’s Lokpal Bill? What do you say about the drinking water situation in rural India? Do you like the new restaurant in the neighborhood? Life is defining us every moment based on the positions we take on many issues. We take a position on a certain situation depending on how much of it we understand, or how we perceive it. Positions are like coordinates on a map; it becomes easy to locate and place something if you know its coordinates on the map in your mind. You know where to place your family on this map, you know where to place your iPod, or the Taj Hotel, or the new hot SUV. And when you are not clear about the position, the confusion can always be tracked to bad design, that which is not clear enough, or precise enough... Designers always work to clarify a position. Position has to be articulated in words, made clear in function and conveyed through esthetics. Industrial designers and service designers create the positioning, which is normally articulated by a communication designer. In this issue of POOL we feature a designer who has put Mahindra & Mahindra on this map with even more clarity. The POOL team wishes you a clear position for yourself and whatever you do in the coming year! Sudhir Sharma Editor in Chief Publisher INDI Design Pvt Ltd

Designindia was founded in 2002. It was started as a platform for interaction for the design community in India and abroad. Over the years it has grown into a forum spread over many social and professional networking domains, linking design professionals into an active, interactive and thought leading community.

Digital Manish Kori Marianna Korniienko Aboli Milind Kanade Marketing Arjun Samaddar Tarun Thakkar Assistants Yamanappa Dodamani Shailesh Angre Pranil Gaikwad

January 2012 | # 19 Indian Edition

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POOL Annual 1 • Compilation of first 12 issues of Pool Magazine • Hard bound 400 Pages • Design Showcases, Success Stories, Experiences and a lot more on design • It’s a melange of ideas and inspiration

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Around the World girls were in Thailand. The next day I was sitting in a popular bar in Chiang Mai with my friend David. I saw a beautiful girl opposite me and clicked her picture secretly, hoping to upload it on my blog and show the world what I was talking about. But my friend David said me, “Hey, you clicked that girl’s picture, right?” “Yes, she is hot!” “She is not a girl, dude!” “Oh *$%@&!!”

AND NEXT STOP : THAIL a is completely

gri Cankay ‘Designer on the Road’ Ca d much more! an captivated by Thai girls…

After my three-month long Indian adventure, I jumped on a plane and headed for Thailand. I was to join the fourth company on my journey - a digital advertising company called Digital Zoo, located in Chiang Mai. I was very surprised by Chiang Mai, which I discovered is a wonderful place to live. I had read something about the city on the Internet before I arrived so I was already expecting a good place - but I was completely struck by the pure beauty of Chiang Mai. A creative boutique agency, Digital Zoo has eight members. The company is engaged in digital projects but also does some print work. This was my second experience in a digital agency, and I liked it very much. The founders of Digital Zoo are two best friends - Pasu and David. Many years ago David was travelling with his backpack when he reached Chiang Mai. The young British designer fell in love, not only with the lady who was to be his wife, but also Chiang Mai. It’s very easy to understand why David was captivated when you see

Chiang Mai. Life is inexpensive, easy, and comfortable. The place is clean, the food is nice, and the girls are sexy! I can’t find a single thing that’s wrong with Chiang Mai and I think that is why so many foreigners have made it their home - they are not tourists. Since there were so many foreigners around I was not treated like a super star as I was in India! There are a lot of talented people in Chiang Mai – I came across fresh minds and nice people attending the various art universities. Companies like Digital Zoo find it easy to hire talented coders or 3D artists at very reasonable rates. Chiang Mai offers many activities - from ziplining in rain forests to ATV driving in jungles; from spending time with huge tigers to riding elephants; from taking massages in spas to visiting a snake camp! All these activities are reasonably priced too. Girls are very sexy in Thailand – maybe the sexiest in all of Asia. I was falling in love 12 times a day! But be careful - sometimes the best looking girls are not girls! When I first reached Thailand I wrote on my blog about how hot the

My first project was to create a corporate identity for a Chinese restaurant called Shark Fin. Both the client and I liked my work, and everyone was happy! Then David told me to design a huge sticker for the big yellow wall in the office. I offered to directly draw something on the wall instead. Using only board markers, I completed a huge 760 cm x 230 cm wall illustration in four days. I set my camera to take pictures of the wall every 20 seconds and after finishing the work I combined all 2,310 photos to make a stop motion animation film of the wall art. I plan to publish it in the videos section of my blog as a kind of behind-the-scenes record of the work I did.The agency was very happy with the illustration. David said it was the best wall art he had ever seen and that he would cut out the wall and carry it with them if they moved their office somewhere else! I was proud of my work because everybody was happy with it. Other offices in the vicinity asked me to do similar work for them but I was too tired to comply. I also worked on a Christmas cards project and some small things for the agency’s web design projects. I traveled a lot, saw a lot, and did a lot. Thailand is probably one of the best places I have visited during this road trip. I advise everybody to go to Thailand. You will thank me later. See you at my next stop, Ho Chi Minh city in Vietnam! Cheers! 3


DESIGN AT THE CROSSROADS Communication design for emerging media was the subject of a recently held seminar in Vadodara

The beginning of December saw a confluence of academicians and professionals from the field of communication in the cultural city of Vadodara. Well-known for the famous Baroda School of Art, the city has long been the hub of India’s art scenario, having groomed and nurtured some of the most heard names in painting, sculpture, print making and art history. What many don’t know is that the same college has also been producing some of the country’s best creative talent in the form of graphic designers or communication designers, who are lapped up by advertising agencies even before they graduate! With the Advertising and Communication Design industry growing by leaps and bounds, there is an explosion, even while

conventional boundaries are vanishing. Earlier the print media was distinct and could be differentiated from the electronic media. Design was for print only, but now there is a participatory element - the viewer is no more a passive receiver. As we have new and interactive media unfolding futuristic communication methods, newer ways of designing communication are needed for them. To prepare young designers for the future, it seemed appropriate to create a platform for experts to share their experiences and expectations with future professionals. With this view the Faculty of Fine Arts conducted a two-day National Seminar on ‘Designing Communication for India VISION 2020’ on 2-3 December 2011. The seminar was conceived and organized by Malti Gaekwad, Sr. Faculty from the Department of Applied Arts of Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. It was attended by over 150 students, academicians and professionals. Prof. Pradyumna Vyas, Director of National Institute of Design (NID) Ahmedabad, delivered the keynote address on the subject ‘India on the Crossroads’. As the head of an institution imparting training in aspects of design, he was probably the

Malti Gaekwad

Rupesh Vyas

Pradyumna Vyas

ScottFilmCritic I feel bad for Scrooge that his name has become a synonym for miserly greed & not redemption. By

the end, he’s the nicest chap in literature

4 POOL | 1.12 | #19

out AMUL and SEWA as examples of social development movements and suggested we learn from them how to become successful brands. “It is time for multi-dimensional social and economic development. By 2020 the whole globe will be our market, not just India. The whole world is waiting to be explored – address the global market needs.”

Vinod Vidwans

best person to do so, as today’s young students will be in the driver’s seat by 2020. “Opportunity is on our threshold,” he said. “We have to have the confidence and communicate that to our society. We need to relate the developing technology to context - to gain advantage.” He cited the example of Khadi Village Industries Co-operative (KVIC), which probably has a larger turnover than even Unilever, with a ‘0’ carbon footprint – a fact that is not known to anybody since there is no story around it. “Designers need to create that story as part of Social Communication and build a ‘brand’ that Indians can be proud of.” Prof. Vyas also elaborated on the need to have vision, hope, optimism, sincerity and integrity. “Without hope nothing works. We have to be optimistic and passionate. We have to realize that as designers we are in the driving seat. Don’t wait for others to do something. We need to look at inclusive communication and development modules. Sustainability has to be looked into.” He pointed

In tune with the subject ‘India on the Crossroads’, Prof. Vyas highlighted the transition India is undergoing from being an OEM to ODM, and now towards becoming on OBM (Original Brand Manufacturer). “Brands like TATA NANO, Titan, VIP and Mahindra Scorpio are examples of India’s success as an OBM,” he stated. Rounding up his talk, Prof. Vyas laid emphasis on education, technology, preventive aspects of healthcare, environment, service industry, sustainability and innovation as the thrust areas for communication of the times to come. In the service sectors we need to look at the success of Indigo Airlines and Indian Railways. “Never look down on your culture,” he advised. “India is known for it. Diversity and variety is what attracts the world to us. Keep it and take it forward from there…” Prof. Yogesh Singh, Vice Chancellor of Maharaja Sayajirao University, who inaugurated the seminar, observed, “The psychological aspects of Indians have to be understood and addressed in a professional manner. Electricity and the Internet have changed our lives at a very fast pace. We as a nation cannot afford not to participate in this change, whether

we like it or not. We need to accept the change and change ourselves. Human nature always resists change.” He went on to give the example of the Mayor of London City who had resisted the launch of the first car over a century ago. When he was finally convinced, he insisted that the car must have four horses in front of it and four horses behind it whenever it was on the roads! On a more serious note Prof. Singh added, “Patience and passion are required to create something unique, along with a capacity to digest failure! We have to develop that capacity. What will be the concept of communication in 2020? We don’t know, but artists should become pro-technology and work with changing times. And most importantly, we must take pride in being Indian – that should be our target for 2020.” Other speakers included Manish Bhatt of Scarecrow Communications, Harsh Purohit of Cognito Advertising, Pantul Kothari of Tiger Advertising, Prof. Vinod Vidwans from FLAME Institute, Devki Marks, Regional Head RED FM, Ajay Umat, Senior Editor – Times of India, Rupesh Vyas from NID, and Dr. Niti Chopra from Faculty of Journalism & Communication. The topics covered included Movable Type to InDesign, The Future of Print, Radio – The Theater of the Mind, Role of the Graphic Designer - Creativity & New Media, How to Prepare an Impactful Portfolio, and Technology Enhancing Art or Hampering it?

iWanderluster Christmas is all around and so the feeling grows. 5



BAMBOO Sangaru Design Studio’s ‘Truss Me’ furniture line was recently awarded the Design for Asia Award. Sandeep Sangaru tells POOL what it means…

6 POOL | 1.12 | #19

Truss Me Bench

Book Shelf: Wall Scape

Tell us something about the Design for Asia (DFA) Award. SS: The DFA Award is presented to ‘companies and designers from around the world that have achieved business success through good design that reflects, or has an impact on the Asian lifestyle’. The Hong Kong Design Centre nominated ‘Truss Me’ for the ‘Grand Award’. We were thrilled to be informed that we had been chosen for the award from all the other deserving designs, across categories, from around the world. The thing I like about the nominations is the insights with which HKDC identifies and promotes good design without differentiating between material, methods and technology.

What does winning the DFA Award mean to you? SS: DFA is awarded to the company (not the designer) for promoting ‘Truss Me’ and bringing it into the market. This could not have been timed any better – we have just set up the manufacturing company Sangaru Design Objects. The two awards – Grand, and Gold (Product and Industrial – Homeware category) inspire us to build on what we started. We are honored to be standing with other very interesting projects from Shigeru Ban Architects, the works of designer Kenya Hara for Nippon Design Center, and companies like Apple and Herman Miller, to name a few. Personally too, the award means a lot to me. How did the ‘Truss Me’ line of bamboo furniture come about? SS: It started off as a personal exploration with the material. The range is based on a construction technique I call ‘Truss Me’. This technique uses solid pole bamboo and split bamboo in a unique way; the laminated module acts like a truss - a very light load bearing structure. The brief I gave myself is to develop a range of functional products and furniture using this principle. What inspired you to create the furniture? SS: Bamboo is a very beautiful and unique

material. I did not realize its potential till I was in Tripura and saw the way of life of the natives; everything one sees, touches and eats is of bamboo - even the local delicacies are cooked in bamboo. However, I observed that the value added products sold in the market as handicrafts made from bamboo were mere decorative items and the value generated in return for the artisan was minimal. I already had this technique and had experimented with a few prototypes. I believed I could use this technique and build a system of products with a higher perceived value using the traditional skills of the local artisan along with design and technology. At whom is the furniture targeted? SS: When I started to design it was not for a particular market. Now if I have to position this it will be for people who value craftsmanship, design and material. It’s certainly not for people who consider bamboo as a cheap material and want the finished crafted products to be cheap too. What plans do you have for ‘Truss Me’? SS: We will start retailing ‘Truss Me’ from early next year. We want to continue to work with bamboo and at the same time develop new products using traditional techniques and materials; functional and contemporary.

The team (L-R): Manoranjan Debbarma, Nipenedra Debbarma, Ranjit Debbarma, Chailendra Debbarma, Sandeep Sangaru, Ajit Debbarma

Book Shelve: The Tree 7



GAZING... Photograph by Rasesh Sugandhi

Did you always want to be a photographer? SB: I wish the answer were an emphatic ‘yes’ and that I had always dreamt of being what I am today, but no, I didn’t always want to be a photographer. Like any other enthusiastic youngster, I envisioned being many other things, but not a photographer. In fact, it wasn’t even a hobby till much later in my life. But when I did finally get behind the lens, I realized I was truly passionate about it. How did you start your career as a film photographer? SB: Initially, I began as a wildlife and still photographer. During this time, I briefly assisted a very reputed photographer, while continuing to shoot on my own. In less than a year, I was referred to the

Commercial photographer Sameer Belvalkar uses his chemistry and management degrees to add value to his work; while one helps him understand the technology better, the other is an asset when it comes to dealing with the financial results! He tells POOL what it takes to be a successful fashion and celebrity photographer…

technical crew of the film ‘Jodhaa Akbar’, who requested that I be on the sets of the movie to shoot publicity stills for the film. How do you decide on your locations and subjects? SB: We have a preliminary meeting before the shoot to understand the brief and get a feel for all the factors - the desired look, hairstyling, make-up, references, etc. This helps form a picture in my mind’s eye. If I can see it in my head (which is the main challenge) then I can use the means at hand (the camera and other equipment) to capture it on film. However, every shoot, no matter how well planned, takes a different turn at the time of the shoot and requires improvisation. I am very spontaneous in this regard. During the shoot I might resort to a totally different

approach; most of my creativity flows once I begin shooting. How do you make your subjects feel comfortable? SB: Communication! If you can communicate well, you can shoot well. Putting your subjects at ease and making them feel comfortable is a result of constant communication from the photographer to the subject. It’s not just about instructing them – it’s about encouraging, inspiring, even flattering them. Constantly telling them that they look amazing and are doing a great job brings out their best. Another important factor is music; I carry all genres of music to suit the mood of the shoot and the preference of the subject. Have you ever had to photograph someone you didn’t particularly like? SB: It’s just about being true to the profession. I am passionate about shooting and honestly, it doesn’t matter who or what I shoot. No doubt, the subject is important and their personality does affect the general mood, but the person in front of the lens doesn’t matter to me as much as what’s happening behind it. For me each shoot is an opportunity to learn, to experiment with angles and lighting, to be creative and mostly, to reinvent my art. Generally, during a shoot, how many pictures would you take to find ‘the right one’? SB: Here it depends mostly on the subject. Some people, like celebrities and top models, have incredible camera presence and body language. With them, just 10-15

PSFK Christmas Choir Sponsored By British Bagel Chain Sings Requests Sent Via Twitter & Facebook 8 POOL | 1.12 | #19 9


shots give me a pretty good set. Others, who are being shot for the first time, or are not very comfortable with facing the camera, take more time and shots. Most people get better the more you shoot them; they need to warm up before they can give their best. In such cases, I keep shooting patiently, perhaps 30-40 shots, till I get the best out of them.

step that is often under-estimated. People think that using Photoshop means that you aren’t a good photographer. This is incorrect. What used to happen with film in the dark room happens to digital on the computer. It is an important step in the development of any photograph. There is a very thin line between enhancing and manipulation. I believe in enhancing.

What do you need to keep in mind while doing a photo-shoot for a movie? SB: It’s about seeing the shot in my mind before I’ve even clicked it. There are hundreds of great shots on a film set that I simply skip, because I don’t see them being used as a billboard or a poster. And then there are those perfect poster moments which you can use as-is. It’s completely different when I’m shooting special publicity stills in a studio. In these cases, its pure reference to the brief and I focus on taking shots that match the references and gel with the artwork and layouts.

What is the most challenging part of being a photographer? SB: Staying in the game! Like any other profession today, it’s about knowing the business and being able to adapt and survive in the space. Digital photography has opened up the space. Today, many more people are investing in the right equipment and getting really good at the job. The challenge is to be cost-effective, dynamic and most importantly to be the one that gets the business. Staying updated with technology is also critical. You have to continue to be abreast with the latest trends in technology (cameras / lights / accessories) and photography. If you’re outdated, you’re out of the business.

As a photographer, do you rely on lighting or dark-room/computer manipulation? SB: Every photographer knows that lighting and how you use it is very important. I rely on both natural and artificial light to capture the mood and subject accurately, rather than relying on computer manipulations. However, I do believe that enhancing images on the computer is an important

Do you think it is important to share knowledge as a professional? SB: I get a lot of enquiries on my website and blog on the kind of work I do and the nuances of being a photographer. I am always amazed at how many people are interested in my work and in photography

in general. I do conduct workshops the idea came from the fact that many enthusiasts wanted to work with me, just for the learning experience. Real photography can never be taught just in theory behind closed doors, so these workshops are more about giving them an insight into how I work and about sharing my experiences as a photographer. My aim is not so much to teach, as to inspire. I do enjoy talking about photography and my experiences. I think (hope) that my passion for the subject projects through. It is also interesting to address issues and explore ideas that participants have during these workshops. Is photography a skill that comes naturally or can it be learnt? SB: A natural flair for photography and understanding the basics can certainly be a boost to starting a career in photography but real skill comes from practice, experimentation and experience. To be good at it, you need to rely less on the theory and technicalities of photography and more on the art of it. If can see the picture in your mind and if you can be creative about how to capture it, then the camera is just a tool at hand. Painters are better photographers, with any kind of camera, because they see the picture in their minds. This ability, this creativity - is the part that can’t be learnt.

Grazia_Live Princess Diana’s Kate Middleton-a-Like Dress Takes Centre Stage in Dress Exhibition 10 POOL | 1.12 | #19

not get into it at all. If you’re not overly passionate about mainstream photography, there are alternatives like cinematography which are not yet fully exploited, easier to get into, and have a much lower investment.

What is the most exciting project you have worked on so far? SB: I’ve been lucky that most of my projects have been very exciting - there are just too many to name. For instance, my experience on ‘Jodhaa Akbar’ was terrific, but also the experience of being on the sets of ‘My Name is Khan’ taught me a great deal and changed a lot of things for me. Has photography helped you evolve as a human being? SB: Photography is about relating to the person you shoot. It’s about identifying that one thing in them that I can show, flaunt, bring out and build on in the pictures. This requires me to talk to them, observe them, analyze them, and know what they are comfortable with and what they are not. It also helps me understand how they hold themselves in their own regard. I guess this has helped me to understand the deeper side of people’s psyche. The more I interact with them, the more I grow and evolve. What is your career advice to young photographers? SB: Honestly, it’s a dog eat dog world and you need to be a wolf to survive! So, my cruel advice to young enthusiasts is either to toughen up for the long run or

How do you differentiate yourself from other photographers? SB: Photography is bigger than me and will always be. Some photographers work hard to get somewhere or to enter an industry and when they reach their destination, they let their name and their brand do the rest of the work for them. The approach changes and the brand-name becomes bigger than the medium. For me, clichéd as it may sound, it’s not about the destination but about the journey, about learning and experiencing something new every single day. I’ve worked with some of the best celebrities in the industry, and delivered awesome shoots. But I still do a lot of shoots free of cost because I’m excited about trying out a new concept or experimenting with different techniques. For me it’s more about the medium. I truly love what I do. And in the long run, I’d like to believe that I’m an original and my art is unique to me.

johnmaeda OH ”When you make everyone else your competition, nobody wants to help you.

When you compete again yourself, everyone will.” 11



INVENTION Sanandan (Sandy) Sudhir is an award-winning designer, strategist, researcher, trainer and educator with more than 14 years of experience in product design and development. Known for his ability to evolve unique design processes that integrate best practices across the globe, he tells POOL more about his penchant for invention!

What were your early influences? SS: I have fond memories of waterfalls in Bhagsunath (near Dharamshala), my grandmother’s palatial house, and a strong urge to get up early in the morning and climb mountains like Indru Nag to see the sun rising from the peaks. Staying close to nature, learning from nature, and a realization of the natural way of living have been the biggest influences in my life. Education at DAV exposed me to hawans and Sandhya Paddhati, and the divine fragrances from hawans even now help me reclaim the piousness in self and spaces around me as a reminder of the importance of purity and clarity of thought from within. In terms of people and thoughts, I have been most influenced by ‘The Godfather’ (for excellence in film making, power in characters and story telling); Lord Shri Krishna (for being the master of 16 arts of living – solahkalasampurn); The Bible (for propagating the urge in humanity to rule over everything that moves on the earth, and to fill the earth and subdue it - Genesis - 1:26-28); MC Escher (for visual transformations); Roger Penrose (for saying ‘physics is wrong from string theory to quantum mechanics’ and for giving us ‘Penrose Tiles’); conspiracy theories (for a search for meaning)’; and ‘Theories of everything’ (for finding order in chaos). How did you become a designer? SS: Being an inventor at heart, the need for ‘something new’ has driven me ever since I can remember. I was amazed by magic as a child, and problem solving began at age eight – I would try to solve puzzles and figure out magic tricks. So the obvious choice was to become a

designer, though my idea of design before I came to the National Institute of Design (NID) was ‘invention’. NID gave me a real understanding of the difference between Invention, Innovation, and Design. How did you get into designing medical products? SS: Medical products save lives, and there is a lot of sense of purpose when you work on the design of a medical product. Since rationality always drove me towards doing design with a sense of responsibility and purpose for humanity, designing medical products emerged as the obvious choice for me at that time. In 1998, when Gireesh (a very close friend) and I were looking for a diploma project in Bangalore for the course completion at NID, GE Healthcare was setting up base in India in a big way. The John F Welch Technology Center (unified R&D center for all their businesses) was on the cards, and Jack Welch and Seth R Banks (head of Global Design for GE Healthcare) were visiting India. Seth had seen some of the initial sketches we had done for mobile x-ray systems as a part of our diploma projects, and decided to take both of us on their global design team. We still had to establish ourselves as a center of excellence for design in India, and it took us around three years, and shifting offices multiple times, to finally have a wonderful design space in the John F Welch Technology Center. I ended up working on almost 30 medical products for GE Healthcare, and won the IDSA silver award for an MRI system in 2009. Mac 400 (the ECG machine for India and other low cost countries) was a challenge, and it finally became a

moragpaterson Just stopped by sloane street to see @jimmychoo’s new ICONS collection. Love the zebra shoes with the large red rose on the front. Need. 12 POOL | 1.12 | #19

big winner for GE. The most innovative product that I designed was the ‘Giraffe Shuttle. I ended up doing quite a few consultancy projects with GE even after leaving the company. In GE, we used to follow a collaborative process. Though I would be leading the project, I would get inputs from the Milwaukee Studio (John, Murf, Doug) or from the French studio (Lionel, Francois etc.) to make the design really global. This really helped in understanding different perspectives and ways of working in different geographies. What were the challenges involved in creating a medical product? SS: I think the key challenges are understanding the human body and the way it functions; the psyche of people when they are not well; cutting edge technology and medicine along with all the usability related, anthropometric and esthetic aspects of medical product design. A medical product designer needs to have a cumulative understanding of all these, along with passion for design. It also took us time to dive deep and develop a fair understanding of product design and development cycles (these cycles are different in many ways from those for consumer products) and corresponding concerns in different geographies. The personal liking for esthetic elements varies drastically in the East and the West, and specific needs of different user groups in these different geographies need to be addressed differently. Over the last 14 years I have visited around 200 hospitals (for research, FGDs, feedback sessions, etc.) in Asia, Europe and the US. I have attended many medical product shows to develop an in-depth understanding of the system, and become comfortable doing medical product design. Understanding regulatory guidelines (FDA guidelines, UL and CE requirements, etc.) is also necessary to design a responsible medical product. Today, gradual consumerization of medical products is a trend in the medical industry, because technology advances have now enabled the move towards more diagnosis and treatment in the community and in the home. So, designers’ contribution in designing medical products is increasing day by day!

Is it difficult to innovate in a crowded marketplace? SS: The marketplace is quite dynamic. It is important to understand three things – the first is the maturity cycles of products till technology innovation takes place. Secondly, it is critical to understand the evolving boredom cycles of user groups or communities, till esthetic differentiation brings rigor back into the life of a product category - most companies constantly struggle to keep innovating, without keeping these in mind.


Thirdly, understanding trends in form and usage patterns in parallel or connected industries is a must to give synchronous experiences to consumers in their day to day life. Consumers would want a similar ‘quality of experience’ from different products in their day to day life. Products fail if there is a mismatch in the quality expectations and product offerings. So, the answer to your question is ‘no’. It is only difficult to develop an understanding of ‘where to innovate’. A good analysis of the three points mentioned will give one a good understanding of whether it should be a technology, design, esthetics, product category, branding, communication or business process innovation. If the marketplace is extremely crowded, and heavily protected

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Innovation in terms of intellectual property, a tie-up with research institutions may help to create some breakthrough innovation or invention. What are your views on design education in India? SS: Many things have changed in the last 15 years in relation to design and design education. There is no more local - the line between local and global is thinning down, but both need to co-exist. Current design education understands local (craft) or global (aping the West), but has difficulty in understanding how local and global should co-exist. The two, being different, respecting the differentiating factors is becoming more and more important. There is information overload. There is so much to know, as the world is evolving and the marketplace is churning out new products and concepts every day. Design students with access to the latest technology are spending meaningful time in upgrading themselves; they don’t get enough time to follow the process or evolve design thinking by communicating with other designers. So, priorities are misplaced or changing.

Overall, the complexity in designing a product has increased drastically, and more and more multidisciplinary teams are required to address the design concerns. To make matters worse, the quality of design education is going down, with an increasing number of institutes every year and decreasing quality of design thought and design skill among the students passing out (barring one or two institutions). So, if we want to call India an innovation nation in future, we need to have design education all over – in schools, colleges, universities, primary

education, and technical institutes. And we should start now. It is already late; we are already branded as a service oriented nation. This is also my personal mission - to take design education to schools. I do my bit by teaching at NID for a few weeks every semester, and I would request all design professionals to spare a week or two every semester to teach, and help take design education to the next level in our country! I am also a regular visiting faculty in other institutes like CEPT and NIFT, and a member of the Program Advisory Committee, NID, Bangalore and Ahmedabad. MATERNAL INFANT CARE - GE GIRAFFE SHUTTLE

The contrast between compensation in the industry and institutions has increased drastically. Most of the good designers would not even consider design education as a career. The current breed of educationists is far behind both in terms of design thinking and necessary skills required in view of current global industry demands. Those educationists who were the pioneers of design thought in India have either retired or are on the verge of retirement. Globally, intellectual property awareness has increased. Far more people are protecting their innovations every year when compared to the previous year. It is becoming more and more important to have a mature understanding of the design process, with newer research methodologies and a clear understanding of the crowded IP space for any product category, to innovate beyond the obvious, without infringing on ideas protected by others. TRIZ, bio-mimicry and other systematic innovation methodologies need to become a part of the curriculum.

KartikDhar There is a time in the life of every problem when it is big enough to see, yet small enough

to solve - Mike Leavitt

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How would you compare the corporate environment with the consulting field? SS: I joined Lumium Innovations as Vice President, Design in January 2008. At that time it was known as Innovative Design Engineering Animation Pvt. Ltd. (IDEA Pvt. Ltd.) and it had a very interesting business model. IDEA was in the business of providing design services to inventors (B to C), helping them transform their patents into a product. With the global meltdown, we changed the business model to providing services to corporates (B to B) in India and the US. It was a completely different experience. In GE Healthcare, design excellence was the focus, and the organization understood the importance of design. I learnt how Americans design differently from Europeans and are different from the Chinese and the Japanese in their approach to design and problem solving.

In the consulting world (Lumium), what you get is what you pay for, profitability being the key, and billable hours the mantra. So now you have to achieve excellence in a limited time frame, and that would vary from project to project. In my tenure of almost four years at Lumium, we completed around 300+ projects (including both B to B and B to C), with a team of around 25 designers and 20 engineers. We had two types of clients - those who knew exactly what they wanted (design aware clients), and those who were trying to understand design services for the first time. Creating design awareness in such cases sometimes became a daunting task. I think the government should invest a lot more in creating design awareness in the industry to streamline this gap. The current MSME schemes and awareness initiative are not enough.

What’s next on your agenda? SS: Being an inventor at heart, I can relate to a lot of people who have brilliant ideas, and are looking forward to making a difference in the lives of people by bringing them to life. I have recently started a company - INVENTINDIA, with the mission of bringing new ideas to life. Whatever it takes!

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Cover Story




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Ramkripa Ananthan didn’t plan to become a designer. It just happened. A graduate in mechanical engineering from BITS-Pilani and post-graduate in industrial design from Industrial Design Centre of IIT-Bombay, she joined Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. as an interior designer in 1997 at the Nashik plant, and has worked on designing the interiors of the Bolero, Scorpio and the Xylo. Her greatest achievement so far however has been as head of the 20-member all-Indian styling team that worked on the recently launched XUV500. Hailed as one of the brightest designers in the country, Kripa says she still has miles to go. She tells POOL a little about the journey so far… Where did you grow up and what are your earliest influences? RA: I am known as and called Kripa. My childhood was spent in various really small villages and towns in South India - both Tamil Nadu and Kerala. I have never given too much thought to influences. I think my character has been deeply influenced by my parents. The schools and teachers of my childhood made the languages,

Illustration by Shridhar Mahadevan

history and geography so interesting that literature, architecture and natural phenomena have been fascinating rather than alienating. In design, I try not to get influenced. That said, my favorite artists are Monet - simple beauty achieved by tremendous technique; Michelangelo - his ability to extend what is achievable by understanding the science behind the art; and Gaudi - for just being fantastic.

When did automobiles enter your life? RA: At design school, I guess. Once I decided to study design, I was drawn to cars. Car design seems to have that aura. Maybe it is the challenge of designing very complex forms. To a large extent, what you design is a reflection of how well you understand people and that’s interesting too.

(Left to Right) Aseef, Anis, Redkar, Sunil, Sridhar, Neha, Kripa, Nilay, Suresh, Ankur, Anand, Pimple

Naina This is what I always wanted. Now I have it. And I am afraid. Typical. 17

Illustration by Shridhar Mahadevan Dynamic shoulder line with pouncing attitude over the fender & rear wheel arch The Double Pounce is unique and grab grabs passing eyeballs

Tell us about your team at M&M. RA: I’ve got used to saying we are a really small team - maybe we are not that small anymore! What I’d love to call ‘my team’ are the people with whom I have worked for a long time - we almost never agree on anything, we argue a whole lot, the arguments border on fights, but we love what we do and the way we do it and can’t imagine but doing it together. What role does vision play in shaping products of a company? RA: It helps. It gives direction, cohesion, reason, and it eases communication. To be specific, design cues, say like ‘rugged’, can mean different things to different people. While I would like to have different perspectives, design vision

helps to focus on choosing the right way forward. What’s your take on industrial design in India? RA: I will remain in the area of transportation design which is the only area where I have any exposure or expertise. In India, I think, our market is large and individualistic and therefore, the scope for design for India is massive; our designers have less baggage, enormous drive and the need to effect a change (or ‘to put a ding in the universe’); our management recognizes the advantages of harnessing local knowledge. Comparing with the scene outside India, maybe we can hone our skills better and improve on minute details.

How did XUV happen? RA: We had a brief to design a global SUV, and the mandate to design it inhouse. Telling a design story is difficult - it’s a short rush of creativity and a long hard road to realization. I will expect you to imagine the slog hours and curtail the story to the creative area. We studied the various markets and interacted with customers to understand needs. We studied trends and predicted what the possibilities were for the future. We brainstormed to derive a theme for the product. And then we started sketching. The theme was ‘feeling the power’ which we felt was a perfect fit for our customer profile and the Mahindra DNA. Using this brief, the designers,

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Cover Story contemporary detailing and getting into details like font design, graphics for touch screen display, which was done by Anis Ahmad. We went that extra distance and actually made a trip to Kenya, to get a feel for the cheetah’s habitat and that influenced the design of the texture, color, graphics, fabric patterns, tactile quality and helped give real depth and dimension to the concept, which was done by Neha Chauhan.

Illustration by Shridhar Mahadevan

exterior, interior and CMF, created moods, collages of reference images, and character sketches; and with these visual influencers, created sketches and renderings. During the initial stages of design, almost the entire team was involved. Then, on the basis of best fit to the brief, we chose one design. For the exterior, we had this powerful side view, distinct and evocative, which was inspired from a crouching cheetah which was done by Sridhar Mahadevan. This really touched a chord in our team and we felt it would evoke a similar response in the customer. The interiors had to match this external exuberance and go that extra mile towards delivering luxurious comfort and global standards. We chose the design that was truly edgy, with concept car like floating vents and cluster pods, integral flowing console, taut form with Steering wheel

Can you recall some memorable moments while working on the XUV500? RA: The four years spent working on the XUV500 had many memorable moments - starting with my post experience program at the RCA, London. It was between September and December 2006, just before the XUV styling started but it probably prepared

Illustrations by Anis Ahmad

Cover Story I also remember the ‘okanamiyaki’ Sridhar and I had in Hiroshima when we were there to approve the tooling for the exterior panels. It’s always challenging for a vegetarian to travel abroad - I think the communication is more difficult than the actual availability of vegetarian food but I find it gives me an opportunity to interact with the local people and the ensuing mayhem is always fun even if the outcome is not always edible! What challenges did you face? RA: Conflict is a big challenge for me. I guess a small creative team working in a largely rational engineering and manufacturing based company is likely to cause some ripples. I am learning to face the conflicts head on. Once I have conviction about the design, I am able to make others see the magic. Time is also another big challenge. From drawing board to road, is a long, long journey and to keep the sometimes fickle designers motivated during the course of four years is an uphill task. What are your expectations from the market? RA: The market and designers are like two sides of a mirror. I’d like to think that the market is what we do. Or, if that is too contentious or conceited, we do what the market is or will be.

Illustration by Anis Ahmad

me for taking on the responsibility of designing an entire global vehicle inhouse. My tutor, Ron Sanders, would take me the Tate Modern or the National Art Gallery and talk to me about balance and proportions in the various exhibits. And then, we would discuss the same principles in cars. Along with some grounding in the basics of car design, I think it gave me confidence. Another memorable moment was the first scale model of the XUV500 that was

milled on our new 5 axis CNC machine at our Kandivli Studio - seeing the form evolve out of a block of wood was quite magical. I was also honored to be in Chennai with the project team when they showed the first prototype to the management. It was a proud moment for all of us and the feeling of belonging to a family is just great. It’s only a great team that seems to manage to work symbiotically to achieve a common purpose, in this case, the XUV500.

What advice would you give the next generation of transportation designers? RA: I find that transportation designers are not a bunch that takes advice too kindly! I would probably like to give advice to lead designers who have the sometimes onerous task of getting good design from young designers. Once you accept that the designer has the requisite skill and attitude, I would like to give them wings to do what they will. Trying to get a young designer to do what you want seems unfair and disadvantageous. What next? RA: Oh, miles to go! We seem to have created a new benchmark. Definitely for ourselves and maybe, even the industry. Now, we have to perform better and better still, to keep challenging ourselves. We have a full portfolio to address a larger portion of the market, and the world to conquer! Corporate Communications:

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Craft What’s the story behind Pure Ghee Designs? AP: After having worked as a consultant in the crafts sector for over seven years, I felt the need to get involved in a more comprehensive way. I started Pure Ghee Designs to have a greater stake in the product cycle from concept to end user stage. One of the craftspersons I worked with presented me with a tin of pure ghee made by his mother. He said it was the best gift he could think of as it was home made and pure. I decided to call my company ‘Pure Ghee Designs’ as it symbolizes Indian-ness, something handmade and something that reminds you of home and family. At the moment I am focusing on creating handmade textile bags but I plan to expand my line of products to other accessories like jewelry and footwear. Tell us something about the crafts involved in Pure Ghee Designs. AP: I love combining various materials and that is the reason I studied sculpture and then furniture design. (I have a Diploma in Industrial Design from National Institute of Design.) I focus on the concept first and then identify the medium. I also like combining traditional materials with new materials.




Designer and entrepreneur Aditi Prakash talks to POOL about New Delhi-based Pure Ghee Designs and how she works at ensuring the Indian-ness of her vividly colored and vibrant products

In India we have huge resource base in terms of crafts and materials. As a creative person I always use craft as a starting point in my designs but I combine it with new materials wherever required to make the product more functional and in tune with contemporary requirements. A case in point is my range of bags. The laptop sleeves, for instance, are made from block printed Ajrak fabrics, but they are lined with foam so your laptop is protected. Do you think it is important to revive traditional crafts? AP: I think that in order to make crafts viable they have to be not just revived but that they must evolve. They have to move with the times in order to survive. I don’t start out with the aim of reviving art forms. I believe in producing culturally rich, contextual and functional products for the contemporary consumer. If in the process I am instrumental in reviving certain art forms the satisfaction is doubled. It is crucial to study the cultural

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context and the historical background of a craft form before using it in a design exercise. This helps in designing and producing products that are appropriate and sustainable. What is the scope of folk art in a technically advancing world? AP: There is scope for hand made products; however, the challenge is to innovate. The traditions that innovate will not only survive but will be successful. Technology should be used wherever required to increase efficiency or to create awareness. At a time when there is an abundance of cheap mass-produced products, people will realize the value of customized hand made products and the demand for innovative handmade crafts will be on the rise. Tell us a little about the process of creation at Pure Ghee Designs. AP: There are no set rules or format. This is the interesting part of my work; no two projects are the same. I vary my process all the time depending on the need of the project. This approach gives me the flexibility of working on varied projects like curating and co-ordinating the Indian Craft contingent for a crafts fair in the UK or using traditional crafts in a high-end luxury resort or designing a hand crafted textile bag.

my then

I get inspired by color, travel, friends, peoplegazing and hand craft. I discuss a concept with craftsmen and we brainstorm

together to explore the idea further. I like the final product to be rooted in their traditional vocabulary and reflect the strengths of their art form. The experience is immensely satisfying when we collaborate as equals in the creation of the product. How do you sell your work? AP: Right now we are a young company and we are trying all possible avenues. Exhibitions give us visibility but eventually we are working towards a strong retail presence. Custom orders provide scope for research and detailing. Our target audience is people who believe in investing in high quality and well designed products that are functional but also have a story to tell. You recently did some work for the Samode Safari Lodge at the Bandhavgarh National Park‌ AP: Yes, I was commissioned to work with local craftspeople from Madhya Pradesh where the Lodge is located, to create custom interiors that would

reflect the culture of the area and yet have a contemporary look. The brief was to create the feel of a private residence and not a resort. Most of the crafts were sourced from Madhya Pradesh, like Gond paintings, flat iron work, Dhokra casting, Bagh textiles, etc. but I did mix it with Kalamkari paintings from Andhra Pradesh, Sabai grass baskets from Odisha and Mashroo fabric from Kutch to create an eclectic appeal. What is your dream project? AP: I approach every project I undertake with the same amount of intensity. As long as I am working with handcraft with a good measure of history thrown in and a final aim of presenting it to a contemporary audience, I am happy! What about the future? AP: I am learning how to run a business and market hand crafted products to a sensitive customer base that is growing. The process has helped me fine tune my sensibilities as a designer. I want to work at establishing Pure Ghee Designs as a brand. 23




Harshvardhan Kadam has ‘bohemian genes’, and there are definite traces of those in the 27-year-old’s work. While he says his skills are probably the result of past life karma, he agrees to tell POOL a little about the process of being an illustrator.

A little background, to begin with. HK: I have an M. Des. degree from Industrial Design Centre (IDC) in Mumbai, where I majored in Visual Communication. I work as a Visual Artist and Consultant Art Director with inkbrushnme studios. Though it is based in Pune, I travel a lot so it ends up being a pretty portable set up – my studio is wherever I go. How did I get there? It was out of choice. I was really bad at studies; I made an attempt to learn science for a while but failed miserably, and realized one thing - not to force anything against the will. So, I took up applied arts. I had seen my parents paint and draw comics since childhood. My father, Vijay Kadam, was one of the first generation comic book illustrators from India. After I graduated, I was attracted to advertising photography and video but things around me just made me stick to drawing and illustration. What exactly does your work involve? HK: Giving a visible visual form to something that exists somewhere in a space alien to us. I create fantasy

characters, illustrate and draw for magazines, children’s books, and advertising agencies. I make experimental stop motion videos, paint on canvases and bottles which I empty over a laid back weekend. I draw comics. ‘Zombie Talkies’, which I illustrated in 2009, is a zombie graphic novel based on a zombie outbreak in Bollywood, and has been published in October. So, I have been exploring all possible things under the sky that excite me. Do you follow a specific process? HK: There are multiple processes when I am dealing with a project of higher magnitude; I design an independent pipeline of work. This flow helps clients to realize that illustration and concept art is not about drawing pretty pictures in a day or so. It starts from ideation, rough sketches, and moves on to coming up with a fresh style and then executing the project in that particular way. This involves considering time restrictions, client’s requirements, application of the illustrations, etc.

Tate Tate Britain’s Barry Flanagan exhibition will finish Sunday 2 January - time is running out if you’ve yet to see it! 24 POOL | 1.12 | #19

For example, if I design a character for a comic book I have to make sure that I make it drawing-friendly, where I will be able to draw it in every angle and not cheat myself just because it is complex looking. For a story illustration, I develop characters and layouts simultaneously - that helps a storybook to be more effective. At certain points while designing a page layout if I feel that the main character needs longer hair, I take that liberty and alter the character throughout. Since the requirement of every assignment is uniquely different, the process I follow also modifies. I use an iPad these days, but I am comfortable with a sketchbook too traditional media is as impulsive as I am! Most times the work happens in one go. Sometimes I might make revisions on a piece for almost a month and it completely sucks the juice out of the art. Do you first illustrate or write a story? HK: I am a visual person; I first see something and then words flow in like

they always existed. I have written stories, short fiction, but I have not given them a complete form yet. But it is very intuitive. I carry a small diary everywhere and go into a numb zone if something inspires me. I try to write or draw, or do both simultaneously.

complicated. To be able to understand this anatomy grammar, use it, and distort it is a very slow, tiring process of evolution. But is worth going through that sweet pain; everyday there is a new challenge and a reason to move forward, and create something kickass!

What sort of research do you undertake when you start working on a new concept? HK: Reading the stories, re-reading them, understanding various point of views, referring to the script I am supposed to design characters for, considering the functionality of the character, and the medium of execution such as animation or live action film, etc!

How have your tools changed over the years? HK: They change, they evolve. I experiment with them to make them work innovatively for me to see different results. But within the last five years of my association with digital art, technology has created possibilities beyond imagination. It is very exciting to use multiple technologies and digital tools and packages to create unique looking artwork.

How does one develop a style of one’s own? HK: Style is a sign of evolution. I have seen artists comfortable in multiple styles and equally powerful effective art. One needs a sense of understanding of the grammar of anatomy, similar to the grammar of language, but a little more

Do you believe in having your work critiqued by someone, or do you just go with what your heart tells you? HK: Most of the time it is my own decision, but when I am not completely satisfied with the piece I am creating, I

CreativeReview A closer look at a lovely new edition of The Prisoner of Zenda from Four Corners, which uses a doubled typeface 25





















Aparajita Barai

ask a friend, or someone who can be frank about the artwork, for their opinion. The final go ahead is from clients usually, but it is very conditional. The assignments I commit to are very selective, where I get freedom to interpret the brief the client has provided. Freedom, though conditional, is an essential aspect for any creative work process. But when I am working for myself, there are no restrictions of medium, resources or conditions. There I get a chance to explore true potential, to see what I have inside me; the only way is to let it out, put it out there! Who are your inspirations? HK: My parents, and a zillion creative souls - writers, artists, poets, photographers, films and filmmakers, and musicians - who inspire me every day. What has been the most exciting project you have worked on? HK: The one that I am working on right now! I am designing the look and visual feel of ‘Ramayan the Theatrical’. It includes designing characters, costumes, weapons, jewellery, etc. - the scale and scope of this theatrical is gigantic. I have been working closely with the costume makers, make-up artists, prosthetics professionals, sculptors, animators, directors and choreographers to understand the vision and produce designs which will give the theatrical a unique look. The show will travel all over the world.

and ‘Mahabharat’. This lifetime is not enough to get a deeper understanding of both these epics. Interpretation of heroic deeds and deep-rooted philosophies is certainly a challenge. The characters from the epics come alive as I start sketching them, based on my research and understanding. I look at them as heroes, and think about how they would exist in their era. Then I take a different route, where I draw an independent interpretation, without constraints, which works most of the time. Clients prefer what looks refreshing to the eye and elevates its characteristics. I extensively use metaphors related to a character’s story as body tattoos, or in jewelry design. The scope while designing is infinite. You can come up with numerous designs for a particular character. Have you done much installation work? HK: I have not explored this zone much but one of the installations we designed for IDC was the Dashavtar of Vishnu. We thought of making life size cut-outs

of Vishnu’s ten avatars and creating a space for the audience to interact. The illustrations were printed on 6-ft panels and we cut out their faces so the audience could interact, feel themselves subtly connected with these avatars, take pictures and make their trip more memorable. The same installation was displayed at the Kalaghoda Art Festival in Mumbai and received a fabulous response. Do you have other interests? HK: I have been experimenting with visual jockeying. It involves creating live digital art, collaborating with musicians and DJs where art gets projected through lasers or projectors on any possible surface. I have performed at a few events and it has been a unique learning experience – you are on toes, making an artwork in front of a lot of people, absorbing the vibes of music and translating poetically in a visual art form. Doing it live is what makes it different and exciting.

Tell us a little about your concept art related to Indian mythology. HK: Indian mythology is something I can’t separate from me. Over the last few years I have had many chances to work on multiple projects related to the ‘Ramayan’ 27


COUTURE FOR CONTOURS Fashion and embroidery designer Anjana Das teamed up with luxury branding and retail professional Daphné Ghesquière to create the White Champa label. She tells POOL how together they bring ‘Inspired Handcrafted Clothes’ to the discerning woman in India. How did White Champa come about? AD: I grew up in Germany, and studied in London at SOAS, and at Goettingen University in Germany. For more than ten years I worked for the French embroiderer Jean Francois Lesage creating high-end home interiors textiles and embroideries. I represented him in Germany and Thailand, and my work with him taught me a lot about embroidery and the translation of historical embroidery techniques to a more contemporary

use. After some years with Lesage, I wanted to use my ideas for clothes and started White Champa in 2006 in New Delhi. I teamed up with Daphné Ghesquière who is in charge of Marketing and Communication. White Champa clothes are completely handcrafted. We combine fitted, precise European-style tailoring with traditional Indian textiles such as cotton muslins, silk voiles, chanderi or matka silks, and

often feature unique, exquisite handembroidered detailing. In addition to blouses, dresses and coats, White Champa offers a selection of custommade perfectly tailored trousers. What is the philosophy behind your brand? AD: The starting point of my own thought process resulted from an observation that a lot of fashion is very restrictive for the body and does not

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HOW Design Live. Enter by March 1

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always allow a woman to be comfortable; it does not further the feeling of being at ease with her body. As women go through life they continuously feel the need to ‘work’ on themselves in order to fit the visual image that is created in the fashion world. Traditional Indian, Japanese or Thai clothing allows for more variation in the bodily form of a woman. They can beautifully drape around any body shape. Clothes also mirror your lifestyle and are representative of changes in society. When conceptualizing clothes, I incorporate these factors into the designs. The clothes follow body contours without obstructing movement. I believe the movement of the body should be enabled and enhanced by the garment. Many of my designs recall elements of traditional clothes through the way they are draped or through touches of embroidery for example. However, their attitude is contemporary. I also believe clothing should have its own intrinsic esthetic value and not only be designed to follow ephemeral fashion. When I am designing clothes I often need to go back to the concept of slowness so that we can recapture the sensuality and spirituality of clothing. Clothes communicate a host of signs and symbols about their wearer; they are a visual language that permits us to communicate with one another before we even speak. We often find it difficult to live up to the fast pace of fashion; slowing down is essential to further the silent dialogue between the creator and wearer of a garment. Who is the White Champa label targeted at? AD: Our main focus lies in India/Asia for the time being as this is a very vibrant, energetic and growing market. We have showrooms in Delhi and Berlin but clients come from New York, Paris, Berlin, New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Jaipur or Tokyo. White Champa clients are women of all nationalities and ages. If I had to describe a representative customer I would say that she is an educated, working woman who wants to be stylish but is not a fashion victim. She likes to wear beautiful yet comfortable clothes that subtly reflect her originality and discreetly say something about her. Often, she is slightly bohemian and interested in art and the world around her. She is conscious of the environment and prefers ethically traded products. White Champa does not advertise, White Champa needs to be found. Our customers are adventurous and like to discover things for themselves. How has the brand grown over time? AD: White Champa has grown very organically over the years. When we started, we gave ourselves the space and time to grow in a way that allows me to continuously develop and fine-tune the product. I spend a lot of time trying out new things with the

Fashion master tailor and the head embroiderer. Through this way of working the group of tailors and embroiderers also grew into a consolidated team. We have had only one embroiderer leave us since we started, something that reflects the value and spirit of our work together. A very lively, honest and harmonious team spirit is the most important aspect of success. In order to get to the best results you need to listen to the ideas of your team members, be able to give and take criticism and also offer solutions for problems. Of ultimate importance for me is the fact that we all share a spirit of curiosity, humor and pleasure in our work together. White Champa is growing fast now. We are increasing our team, as well as branching out to increase our distribution in India and other Asian countries. However, we will continue to work in our way. How important are traditional crafts and textiles to you? AD: I am convinced that one of the challenges of fashion design in India today is to build a bridge between the incredible skill in the manual craft sector and the demands of women of the 21st century regarding the esthetics, functionality and technology of garments. Issey Miyake

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said it beautifully: ‘The joint power of technology and manual work enables us to revive the warmth of the human hand’. A lot of the craft sector in India today resembles industrial production insofar as craftspeople often have to mass-produce craft items. At the same time many of these craft products have lost their functional meaning and use. This leads to detachment. From my point of view, crafts should work more in the way that we do – keep the value of crafts and their artisanal character! At the same time the product must mirror our time and lifestyle and should offer what a client is looking for in this day and age. Someone looking at our clothes does not have to know exactly which techniques were used and how traditional designs or ways of working were modified. However, the garment should evoke emotion and communicate with the person who is looking at it or wearing it. It is a silent dialogue between the person making the clothes and the one wearing them The danger of the fast pace and growth of fashion collections is that more time consuming complex techniques are abandoned for quick and cheaper solutions. As much as I am for growth in the business I am convinced that we want

to keep to these techniques and hence am all for a slower pace and quality versus speed. The mere fact that we are still working with the age old techniques of Indian embroidery and other tailoring techniques is keeping the art form alive for us and our workers. What influences/inspires your work? AD: I admire designers like Issey Miyake, Dries van Noten, Nagara, and Phoebe Philo. Anything from my surroundings influences my work: it might be the colors around me, art, music, sounds and scents. My home, which changes location with my nomadic life around the globe, provides a lot of inspiration and is a source of calm, energy and dynamism at the same time. Over the last 20 years I have constantly moved around and travelled a lot. These changes of place and journeys I try to bring back to my own space and I surround myself with them depending on my moods. I also get very inspired by people that I meet and by conversation. I get inspired by my love for researching architecture, the history of textiles, old costume patterns and historical textiles. All these things speak to me when I’m sitting in my atelier to conceptualize the next collection.

Blogger Your blog talks about Fair Trade. What exactly does this mean? AD: Fair Trade is a trading partnership based on dialogue, transparency, and respect. This system of exchange seeks to create greater equity and partnership in the international trading system. The Fair Trade movement is constantly gaining popularity, as consumers begin to ask where their products come from, what they are made of, and if their purchases will make a difference in the world. This behavior has been named by some as ‘social consumerism’, where people look to buy products from ethical companies and want to support good causes. We promote artisans and crafts which definitely need the Fair Trade ideology to support their growing in the right way.



US based architects, Amisha Desai and Riddhi Mankad believe in Fair Trade, a concept that they promote through their venture ‘The Green Elephant’, and their similarly named blog Amisha Desai What were your original plans for the blog? AD: We had just discovered the world of design and decor bloggers, and we were soon obsessed. Both of us used to read blogs, commented, got responses…the whole interaction, being able to participate as a reader and the fact that there was someone somewhere in the world whose sensibilities matched and fed our own was extremely intriguing. By the time we started blogging about three years ago, there were so many design based blogs in blogosphere, but we thought this might be the best method to start interacting and sharing our ideas, and our products. And that was that - once we started there was no looking back. Does your blog help you network? AD: When we started the blog, we must have written to 5-10 of our closest friends asking them to read it, but beyond that we haven’t networked much. When we created the facebook page for The Green

Elephant, we linked it to the blog and we believe that has really helped spread the word to our friends. Google and random image searches also lead a lot of people to our blog. So we have realized the more we blog, the better it promotes itself. We truly believe it’s a very organic process. Which topics do you tackle on your blog? AD: Our blog celebrates the explosion of creativity out there! It celebrates the beautiful people with the most creative of minds that design the coolest of things - things that inspire us to remain innovative. One is also bound to come across small excerpts about culture, tradition and ideas to bring sustainability into our daily lives. We blog about things we love – décor, design, artists, illustrators, photographers, and our products. It’s too bad there’s only one lifetime to have it all! This is the least we can do.

DavidAirey johnson banks wants your help compiling a best/worst

of 2011 for blogs & twitter accounts

How has blogging helped you to stay in touch with Indian design after moving to the US? AD: Although we are currently based in the US, our hearts rest in India. Working on the principle of Fair Trade, The Green Elephant collaborates with non-profits, creative upcoming designers and skilled artisan groups in rural towns of India that create exclusive interior accents, home furnishings, chic accessories and jewelry. These products are carefully handpicked to bring our customers the most beautiful and contemporary designs, not usually found elsewhere. Without The Green Elephant we would not be interacting with artisans in India or talking to artists based in India at all. And as far as blogging goes, there are so many Indian design blogs now! It’s always interesting to stay in touch with what is happening in the Indian design arena on a regular basis. It’s a small world now!

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RNI-No. MAHENG12606/13/1/2010-TC

January POOL 2012  

Pool Magazine for January 2012

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