August POOL 2012

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Preksha Baid 32 Photographed by an Artisan

CAGRI 05 / NISHA 06 / Neha 08 / COLLECTIVE CRAFT 12 / Heetal 18 / SAMEER 24 / ANUPAMA 46 / AUDITYA 52 / HEADTILT 60

Editor in Chief |

August 2012 | # 26

Sudhir with Pauline (Georgia Southern University, USA), Cem (Marmara University, Turkey), Kardelen (Izmir University of Economics, Turkey) & Michelle (Georgia Southern University, USA)

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. International Design Media Network Participant

Control “When you control the Ball, you control the Score.” Pele’s famous words apply not only to all games but also life today. Anyone who has played football will tell you how it difficult it is to keep the ball with you, especially when you have good competitors. You need to master the skills, you need to know the field, you need to know the rules, and you need to know your team mates very well. That given, you must know as much about the other team and their game as you know about yours. Most of us know this very well. We should keep up with the software skills and technology upgrades happening all around us. We must know about and have empathy with sustainability and the environmental impact of our projects, besides knowing what we are impacting for users and clients. We must know our own team very well. If you have partners, and senior or junior members of the team, you need to know their strengths and weaknesses. You must know how their skills and egos will play in your projects. You must know when it is time to defend and when to get aggressive. You should get a sense of when to quit. Too many people write to me saying they are looking for a change and I ask why. Usually I feel people quit a game where they haven’t played well too early. But above everything I would say remember ‘you can only hit one goal at a time’. Focus on hitting your next goal, plan for it…you cannot plan on hitting too many goals at one time. It’s important to hit one goal at a time and control the score. And when you control the score you control the game! Sudhir

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designer on the road I had arranged a job with the Amuse Group located in Beijing a while ago but I was poisoned in Vietnam and had to cancel my trip to China till I recovered again. I am grateful to my boss Mr. Bibi Ho who always supported me during this period. When I finally landed in Beijing, Bibi came to the airport to welcome me in the middle of the night and took me to a hotel he had already booked me in. He also gave me a bunch of cards - one for free lunch, one for free transportation, one for entering the company, and one for the hotel room! Everything started off so easy in China, and Bibi was a great help.


Designer on the Road, Cagri Cankaya, gets a taste of China on his continuing adventures around the world

Amuse Group is a local design company with clients from all over the world. It’s a big company and they do lots of stuff, ranging from advertising to product design. I worked for a pollution mask brand and HP’s new printer campaign. Pollution is a big problem around Beijing. There are lots of factories around the city and the air quality is not so good. People use applications on their mobile phones to check air quality daily; if it is bad they use pollution masks to protect themselves. Another problem in China is that of freedom. While it’s not like North Korea, it’s still not adequately free. There are too many rules and some of them are really pointless. The Internet is full of blocks - you can’t enter facebook, twitter, youtube, or vimeo. Even Google doesn’t work well here. It was really hard for me to share my adventures during my three weeks in Beijing. However, China is a great country with an amazing culture and history. It is absolutely gorgeous! There are many places to see and discover. The best part of China is its people. It’s hard to communicate with most of them because of their limited English skills, but their hospitality is one of the best in the world. Friends I made in China cared about me very much and invited me to many places with a huge passion. Thanks to my friends from the company I was never alone in Beijing and always had things to do. As a person who never says no to traveling, China was a big and tiring experience but a nice one for sure!  5


Shades of the HOMELAND Nisha John’s ‘Of Indian Origin’ is the world’s first curated online blog-shop featuring contemporary Indian art and design products. She shares with POOL her thoughts on taking Indian design and art to the world stage…

What is ‘Of Indian Origin’? NJ: Launched in July 2010 as a blog, ‘Of Indian Origin’ (OIO) is a platform that celebrates creative work by artists and designers linked to India by body, mind or soul. The Shop of Indian Origin (SOIO) is the first global curated resource and platform for creative products from such artists and designers. SOIO offers locally inspired designs blended with global cultural influences, such as bags, jewelry, graphic prints, paintings, clothing, home furnishing and other cool products. The products seek to break clichés about Indian art and design. 6  POOL #26

How did it all begin? NJ: Born into an Indian Naval family, I traveled and lived in different parts of India. On completion of my postgraduate degree in advertising and marketing, I joined advertising agencies like MAA Bozell and O&M where I worked with some of the best creative talents around. Then my husband and I moved to London, where I was exposed to design styles from various countries. I noticed that the perception of Indian art and design was still ridden with clichés. ‘Of Indian Origin’ was born with the aim to showcase to the world what Indian design and art really look like today.

Design-preneur What business model do you practice? NJ: It is quite simple - we help talented artists and designers to reach out to a global audience. We display and sell their products on www.ofindianorigin. and concentrate on marketing and promoting the products - leaving the artists and designers to do what they do best, create! Customers can safely and easily buy the products on our site. Once a product is sold, the designers are notified, who then send out the package. How challenging was it to connect with designers and artists? NJ: I began by featuring my friends and acquaintances. Soon, the blog took off and I started getting mails from wonderful people introducing me to other talented artists and designers, and then it was a snowball effect. Coming from the advertising field, I feel absolutely at home with creative minds. I have had a great time getting to know new artists and designers and their awesome work. What are the biggest challenges the Indian design industry faces? NJ: The biggest challenge is to change the perception about Indian design - that it is not just about cheap manufactured products, antiques or handicrafts. The current Indian design scene is much more vibrant and international. It is important to be seen as a leader in conceptualization and design development. The next big global idea should come from India. We also need to develop skills to market products around the world. How can Indian design be popularized in the global marketplace? NJ: That is exactly what SOIO is here for! Seriously though, good marketing,

positioning and service is what is needed. Until now, Indian craft has been well received all over the world, and now I believe it is only a matter of time before the world wakes up to our design-led creative products. What is the response to Indian design/ art in the UK? NJ: We have had lots of positive responses from the UK and other countries. In a short while we have already built relationships with customers in countries like the US, Singapore, Switzerland, Germany, France, the UK, and India. It will take some time to become the first choice as compared to the established local brands, but eventually if our work is good, we will shine through. In your opinion, where does the Indian design and art industry stand today? NJ: The Indian art and design industry is basically small, because currently only a few institutes offer design education, leading to a close knit creative community. But as a whole, the industry is growing at an explosive pace with more people understanding the importance of art and design in everyday life. E-commerce gives artists/designers the chance to share their work and gain feedback and confidence. I believe that in the next five years people will get more involved in design and art. Quality will start getting more important than quantity, which will hopefully separate out the cheap copycats and give due credit to the genuine artists. What’s next for you? NJ: I look forward to building OIO as a brand and hope to be able to contribute in the effort to make India an art and design destination from a global perspective.  7


CONDUCTING ETHNOGRAPHY IN INDIA Neha Thakurdesai provides some practical tips!

Geert Hofstede’s theory of cultural dimensions describes the effects of a society’s culture on the values of its members, and how these values relate to behavior, using a structure derived from factor analysis. The theory has been widely used in several fields as a paradigm for research, particularly in cross-cultural psychology, international management, and cross-cultural communication. Hofstede developed his original model as a result of using factor analysis to examine the results of a world-wide survey of employee values by IBM in the 1960s and 1970s. The theory was one of the first that could be quantified, and could be used to explain observed differences between cultures. Keeping Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimension theory as the foundation, here are a few observations by an ethnographer from field research in India… 8  POOL #26

Power Distance Index “Power distance is the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions (like the family) accept and expect that power is distributed unequally.” (India scores 77 on Hostede’s scale)


inherent to think of the ‘others’ and then take actions, or make decisions. While conducting focus groups, the collectivism behavior is quite evident. Participants do not give their individualistic opinion but tend to agree with the majority of participants in the room. The best way to deal with it is to become the devil’s advocate and go with the flow. Hierarchy plays an important role in India and the use of ‘sir’ as against the first name like in the West is still prevalent. While conducting focus groups, if the participants are from different social statuses – the results from the discussion can be skewed and biased. Also, it is considered rude to disagree with your elders or question their opinions; hence it helps to have the respondents within the same demographics.

Masculinity v/s Femininity “The distribution of emotional roles between the genders.” (India scores 56 on Hostede’s scale)

Collectivism v/s Individualism “The degree to which individuals are integrated into groups.” (India scores 48 on Hostede’s scale) India is a patriarchal society and even today it is evident in households, with the male member taking decisions in the family. While conducting focus groups, the respondents within a single gender group are more responsive, prompt and genuine in their interaction. The same is not the case in mixed gender groups.

Scoring really high on the collectivisim parameter, Indians are brought up in a close community culture. It is

Home interviews with female respondents are better if conducted by a female interviewer – this avoids any awkward moments!  9

ethnography Long Term Orientation “First called ‘Confucian dynamism’, it describes societies’ time horizon.” (India scores 61 on Hostede’s scale)

In India, it is important to save face in the eyes of others. Social obligations and respect for traditions is ubiquitous in every household. The respondents find it very difficult to give their frank opinion on established products or brands, especially if they do not like something. It is advisable to have the name of products/brands masked, to get the true reaction. Similarly, for think aloud techniques, participants need a lot of prompting to be on track and respond to the exact question. Even if participants cannot make it for an interview or a discussion, they do not say ‘no’ directly because that would be rude, so they will politely say they are available – the ideal way to deal with this would be to recruit more people. Uncertainty Avoidance “A society’s tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity.” (India scores 40 on Hostede’s scale) In India there is functionality in chaos – things are unstructured,

there are few rules to abide by and people find their way out to live up to the term ‘jugaad’. The drop out rates for interviews are quite high, so it is wise to recruit backups. Respondents may not arrive on time for interviews – reasons could range from traffic congestion to some other unavoidable personal work. Call the respondents 15 minutes before the scheduled time – then there are chances that the interview / focus group will start on the scheduled time. Indians navigate with the help of landmarks and this is an interesting insight while scheduling interviews and focus groups!

Neha Thakurdesai heads INDI Research, an organization that helps clients and colleagues think about the connections between people, brands, products and services. She holds a master’s degree in Design Ethnography from the University of Dundee, Scotland and a master’s degree in Communication Management from the Pune University. Image credits: Triveni Sutar  11


a new stone age Through ‘Collective Craft’, design consultants Shweta Mohapatra and Sibanand Bhol give a contemporary twist to traditional stone and wood handicraft techniques from Orissa

What is Collective Craft? CC: It is a collaborative of designers from various disciplines and skilled artisans spread across Orissa, and works towards engaging traditional handicrafts in contemporary product, space and communication design. The collaborative attempts to secure rural livelihoods, besides preserving and developing the ancient, precious and timeless cultural traditions of crafts threatened with extinction, or in the process of decline. It currently works at generating work opportunities for artisans through interventions and innovation in design, technical processes and easier access to markets. 12  POOL #26

Collective Craft is envisioned to function as a group of professionals across disciplines like architecture, engineering, communication design, product design and crafts, that designs and builds projects that are environmentally responsible and have a smaller ecological footprint. The group works as a collaborative that draws inspiration from the individual and collective skills of all its members. Our work has a very contemporary esthetic but also draws inspiration from the traditional design expressions.


Bowls made of stone

We started with products, as they are the components that will come together to be a part of and complement larger and more comprehensive projects of space design. Who are the people behind Collective Craft? CC: It was started by two of us - Sibanand Bhol, an architect from the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi; and Shweta Mohapatra, an animator and illustrator from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. Sibanand has extensively traveled across Orissa, living and working with artisans and artisan communities. Shweta also works closely with Pattachitra artists in Orissa. As people we are deeply committed to working with environmental and rural sustainability, and so we started Collective Craft, which we currently manage from New Delhi and Bhubaneshwar. What kind of projects do you undertake? CC: We are perhaps the only people who work in various crafts in Orissa, apart from people who work in textiles. In terms of design, our products are inspired from traditional architecture and carvings of the temples in Orissa. We interpret and contextualize these age-old design expressions onto contemporary products such as stone platters, jewelry,  13


Jewelry made of stone

and Christmas decorations; and wooden clocks, jewelry boxes and coasters. Our Communication Design projects are deeply inspired from ancient story telling traditions and crafts like Pattachitra. Space Design projects often use local materials and building techniques and respond to immediate site parameters. Is it a challenge to work with traditional artisans? CC: One of our greatest hurdles has been to initiate a dialogue with artisans and include them as participants in the whole philosophy, design and production process. Change, in any form, is often met with stiff opposition, as most artisans consider their craft as an expression that is static and frozen in time. Over longer periods of continuous exchange of ideas, many artisans have showed an understanding and appreciation of the viewpoint that their craft form can be dynamic and evolve with time to reflect contemporary thought in design. How do you market your products? CC: Our main buyers are individuals, and corporates looking for gifts. We retail through various stores all over India. We also participate in exhibitions like Dastkar as we get direct feedback from customers there.

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Jewelry Box  15


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ONCE UPON A TIME… Heetal Dattani Joshi is an artist and storyteller but she is also a poet and dreamer, which makes her ideally suited to create a magical world for children through her design label ‘Beetle & Bottle’

How does ‘Beetle & Bottle’ work? HDJ: ‘Beetle & Bottle’ is based on the belief that kids are incredibly intelligent individuals with a unique and special way of viewing the world around them. It is a tribute to the unique and special spark that each child is born with. I personally work on a range of elaborate as well as practical designs especially for kids. These include framed wall art, hand-painted murals, specially printed wallpaper, and a host of fun home accessories. I also create a range of customized stories, which are written and illustrated on an individual basis. Parents can commission me to weave a tale with their precious little one as the central character. I incorporate the child’s unique personality traits, passions, his dreams and his interests within the story. These stories can then be framed as wall art, painted as a mural on the wall, printed on child safe wallpaper, or bound in a book. The stories spark off the child’s imagination and a static, inanimate space comes alive. 18  POOL #26

How did it all begin? HDJ: As a child, I was frequently lost in the brilliant colors of my paint box, and as I grew, my passion for drawing and painting grew with me. My parents were extremely appreciative and encouraging of my art and the thought that I could be anything other than an artist when I grew up never crossed my mind. I studied Commercial Art (majoring in Illustration) at Sophia Polytechnic in Mumbai. I see myself


Magic Ladybug

as an artist - part writer, part painter, part dreamer, and above all, someone with a very unique and possibly lopsided view of the world. After graduating I joined an ad agency where I learnt a lot about art direction from some of the most inspirational names in the industry. I enjoyed my 10 years of art direction in various agencies in Mumbai and Dubai, such as Lowe, Ambience Publicis, Bates and Partnership. But eventually, the child in me began to miss that paint box, and it was only a matter of time before I quit the flourishing advertising career that I had spent years building.  19


DIY Indian Angel

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How did you get into writing and illustrating for children? HDJ: When I traded my career in advertising for paintbrushes and aprons, I was conscious of the need to create art for the sake of creating art. I didn’t want to have to use my art to sell a product or service, or to please clients. After quitting my advertising job in Dubai, I chose to stay in my self-created utopia for a while. During this experimental phase, I ended up painting for a lot of my friends’ kids. I painted murals to welcome my friends’ little ones into the world. I wrote

illustrator and designed special bedtime stories for them, and I created wall art for their rooms. And before I knew it, I was being asked by friends and acquaintances to create art for their kids and I found myself working full time on orders. I also realized that I hadn’t had so much fun for a long time. My work not only allowed, but also demanded that I give reality a happy boot and encouraged me to unleash my irrational and imaginative side. Being a dreamer and an eternal child at heart, I enjoy losing myself in the world of make-believe. It gives me a lot of joy to forget the normal world of adults while painting, writing and designing for my little clients. Do you follow a specific process of working? HDJ: I don’t really have a fixed method of working. I pretty much allow myself to flow with whatever comes to me first. As long as the finished piece of art invokes a sense of wonder and fascination in my little clients, I know it’s a story well told. Nostalgia has a lot to do with how I create my stories. I find that going back to my own childhood and reaching back into my memories inspires me. Sometimes it’s a poem or a story that I’ve written that triggers off that sense of wonder, and the visual follows. Or sometimes I have a magical visual in mind and I try to write a story that captures the same sense of magic. However, the starting point of every piece of work I create is the unique likes, dreams and personality of the child. My style of working is very intuitive and flexible. While I usually have a visual or an effect in mind before I start, it often evolves while I’m working on it and eventually takes on a life of its own. More often than not, the final piece is very different from what I imagined it would be or what I started to create, but that’s the beauty of art. As long as you flow with it, and allow it to grow and evolve around you, you’ll always learn something new. Do you have a favorite medium? HDJ: I keep evolving and forcing myself to experiment with different materials and styles. I do however tend to veer towards creating art that is a mix of many different media. I often start with painting on wood or canvas. I use acrylics or oil paints, depending on the look I’m going for. I then layer my painting further with digital textures, colors and text to create an effect that is multi faceted and different each time. Do you believe in having your work critiqued by someone? HDJ: Most of my work is based on a specific client brief. I encourage parents to give me as much information about their child’s passions, aspirations, likes and dislikes, and that helps me write and illustrate a story that is personal and that will immediately connect with the child. Once I’m done with the story, I give the parents a sneak peek before I have it framed. It’s great not to have left brained number crunching  21


Princess Story

clients, but spontaneous kids and doting parents viewing and appreciating my work. I’ve been extremely fortunate that all my patrons so far have let me follow my heart and believed in my vision of creating a unique piece of art for their kids. What do you think is the biggest hurdle in your style of work? HDJ: Just because I paint for kids, people don’t always perceive what I do as valuable art. I’ve met some people who look at it as nothing more than a pretty piece of home décor, something to fill up an empty corner in their nursery. So it’s difficult to explain the value of each piece to people who are not open to learning the value of time and effort that goes into hand painting and designing each customized piece. It’s heartwarming to see people who recognize and appreciate the time and talent that goes into creating a unique piece of art. But it’s also extremely disappointing when some people don’t see why my art is more expensive than the mass marketed

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illustrator pink/blue or yellow designs that are available in generic kiddie stores. What inspires you? HDJ: I find a lot of inspiration from watching kids around me. I love observing kids when they’re lost in a world of make believe and pretending to be graceful ballerinas or adventurous astronauts whizzing around in outer space. I love how they can so easily transform themselves and the world around them into something so magical and so full of wonder. And this never fails to inspire me to create parallel worlds of beauty and wonder in my stories. I also find the art of contemporary Japanese artists, like Yuko Shimizu and Takashi Murakami extremely inspiring. I find their style unique, irreverent and extremely refreshing. The lack of symmetry, the spontaneity and the sense of wonder in their work always inspires me to push boundaries. Has living in Turkey influenced your work? HDJ: I love visiting new places, soaking in new cultures, experimenting with new cuisines and meeting new people. After spending four fabulous years in Dubai, my husband was offered a job in Istanbul. I jumped at the chance to start afresh in a place as beautiful and culturally rich as Istanbul. Living and interacting with kids and parents in Turkey has made me see how universal the language of childhood and parenting is. The energy in Istanbul is alive and young, and it’s easy to get engulfed in this buzz and feel enthusiastic all the time. It’s a very modern city that’s constantly evolving and yet has its roots firmly planted in tradition and culture. This fascinating contradiction inspires

me to constantly create new, innovative pieces of art, while being true to the fundamental essence of ‘Beetle & Bottle’, which is inspiring and encouraging creativity in kids. What is your dream project? HDJ: To see myself compiling my own book of bedtime stories for kids! I also have a secret dream of one day animating some of these stories and seeing my illustrations taking on a new life of their own. I would love to explore options and push the boundaries of conventional story telling by venturing into different areas of animation. What are your plans for the future? HDJ: I’ve never been one to plan much, at least not beyond a certain point. I believe that the best career decisions I’ve made have always been the most spontaneous ones. The moment work seems more like work and less like fun, I know I need a change of plans. Right now, the most fun I’m having is realizing my dream towards making ‘Beetle & Bottle’ as big as I know it deserves to be. ‘Beetle & Bottle’ is a dream that is very close to my heart and I still pinch myself about how beautifully and seamlessly it has transformed into reality. Managing my very own business has been an extremely enriching, though intimidating experience and there’s something new to learn every day. At the moment, I have orders for customized stories and wall art from Mumbai and Istanbul. Soon, I can see myself launching a line of personalized furniture and a host of other home accessories for kids. But for now, I’m busy having a lot of fun painting, designing, writing and encouraging kids to dream big and smile a lot.  23


When it comes to creating striking works of art, young Sameer Hazari is not restricted by medium, using anything from charcoal to oils and acrylics to express himself 24  POOL #26


Tell us something about yourself. SH: I was born in 1988 in a small town in Bihar, which is now Jharkhand. A Telecommunication Engineer, I also have a Masters in Fine Art from Middlesex University, London. I own Sameer’s Art Studio, which is based in Faridabad, and am also an artist, visualizer and teacher.

‘The Drop, Diptych’ Acrylic on canvas

How did you get drawn to art? SH: As a child, power cuts never let me play video games in peace so I used to kill time doodling cartoon images from pencil boxes, cassette covers and bags. We moved to Delhi when I was 10. Cartoon images were now replaced by movie posters and magazine cutouts. I began to develop an interest in portraiture and would sketch the faces of friends, family and icons with charcoal and pencils for practice. Art was still very much a hobby to me at this point. School ended and I moved to Bangalore to be an engineer like a true  25


‘Weirdo’ Watercolour on paper

Indian. Surprisingly you tend to have more free time in college than in school, so I took up a photoshop course to try my hand at digital art. This was a turning point. It made me realize that I could probably do all that without using photoshop! About four years ago I bought an easel and some oil paint and painted for the first time. What have been your most important influences? SH: Travel has been one of the most crucial sources of inspiration for me. It is one thing to look at a painting

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or listen to a song online, but to watch art/artists at work gives you a much needed first-person’s point of view. Do you think creativity is universal to the human condition? SH: Yes, creativity has been universal ever since man made fire. Being an artist is quite like being on any other job. Every artist has his/her own process of collecting, documenting, making notes and doodling. Once all that is ready, creativity is all about subtraction.

‘Lennon’ Acrylic on canvas  27

art (Right) ‘Tribal Beliefs’ Acrylic on canvas

What do you want to address through your art? SH: The prime focus of my work is to encourage interaction between the art and the viewer using color, replicating patterns and perspectives. The colors in my work are largely inspired by music. I make portraits and paintings from a psychedelic viewpoint. Currently, I’m working on optical illusions and 3D paintings. What is your favorite art work? SH: I’m a big fan of Salvador Dali. My favorite painting of his is ‘Galatea of the Spheres, 1952’, which depicts a portrait of his wife constructed out of perspective circular arrangements. Very trippy! Do you have a professional goal? SH: I think it’s a wonderful time to be an artist in India. There are many new developments happening and I would hate to miss out on all that. The plan is to keep painting, teaching and traveling for the next few years. I would like to work towards a Ph.D in Fine Art Practice. The goal is to stay happy and busy.

‘Pure Rhythm’ Oil on canvas

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Any advice for budding artists? SH: Being shy is being slow. Be vocal about your work. Go through your previous works and see where you’re heading. Find your style and stick to it. Invest in yourself.

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‘The Ruby Ceiling’ for the main lobby lounge of the Park Hotel, Hyderabad 32  POOL #26

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WHAT LIES BEYOND Preksha Baid is Director of Y-walls Design, a multi disciplinary design practice that allows her to create unique spaces and add more meaning to walls. She tells POOL what the practice of looking beyond boundaries and redefining them has meant for her…

How did it all begin? PB: I am a dreamer and quite far away from the practical world, which I only like to visit when I have to wear the hat of an entrepreneur. I was always trying to find my identity in the ‘real practical world’, which led me to search more and discover new things about myself. I had a great childhood and a lot of what I am doing now is connected to time spent at my grandparents’ place in Bikaner in Rajasthan. My education in Nepal, Chennai, Delhi and London was very contrasting and each time period brought out a different side of me. Although I joined a commerce college after school, I had no interest in the thick accounting and taxation books.  33

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In my final year of graduation, I decided to appear for the NIFT and NID entrance exams, just because everyone around me was preparing for an entrance exam too! I got into NIFT and my life changed. I enrolled for the Post Graduate Diploma in Textile Design and Development, and in the final year decided to go to London for a Master’s at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design. When I was majoring in Textile Futures I was surprised to see how people had such individual expression and quite seamlessly blended textiles with other materials. I loved my education in London. It was fresh, challenging and experimental. I also realized that I loved Architecture more than Textiles. All my projects were related to spaces. My Textile education at NIFT and CSM trained me in materials, color and visual esthetics but I had no training in architectural planning. I realized then that spaces are not just designed blocks of architecture but have a lot of emotional value too. The semiotics of spaces intrigued me and led to my research on boundaries. 34  POOL #26

How did Y-walls Design come about? PB: I started Y-walls soon after returning to New Delhi in 2008, mainly because I wanted to go to a very creative place to work every day! I started in an empty room with cement flooring and barren walls, though it had a lot of light and air. My father gave me the motivation to start on my own. He probably never understood my work in the beginning but displayed tremendous faith and support. Y-walls Design was started as a creative studio space to explore my ideas. To be honest, I had no idea how to run a company. I had no clue how much I should charge as a design fee or pay someone who worked for me. I was the ‘free spirit’ student who had just graduated and taken the first step in the real world. For me, it was just like a step forward, and that is the approach I still believe in. I remember smiling widely when I drove to my studio every day. It really didn’t matter whether I would get another project, or whether I would have money to expand in future. All that mattered was to be happy to go to work every day.

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An outdoor Art Installation - ‘Marble Diya’. This 2.5 meter wide diya is made of pure white marble that illuminates from inside. Installed at a Government building, New Delhi

That is why it is so important to design creative environments in offices. Why walls? PB: Exactly! ‘Why Walls’? Why do we need walls in our society, and if we need them, let’s make them more meaningful. During my Master’s in London, I researched boundaries and walls, both physical and virtual. The research led to amazing discoveries of human relationship with boundaries and our perception of spaces. Y-walls means to look beyond boundaries and redefine them. It is not just the name of my company but now a way of living life. Today the philosophy has evolved

and I am applying it to understand boundaries in the context of India and how design can be used to build better environments. Walls are like blank canvases. We find a wall at home and put pictures; it becomes a memory wall. We install a wall in an office so that hierarchies can be created. Every space has walls that we give an identity. A wall separates our house from the neighbor’s house to give us privacy but if the walls are too high we get disconnected from the world, like a prison. This duality of walls inspired me to research the ‘boundaries’ in our social spaces. That helped me to  35

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‘The Street Lobby Light’, Park Hotel, Hyderabad Inspired from the intricate patterns of jeweled headgear of Nizams and magnificent chandeliers of Chowmahal Palace, Hyderabad

understand the layers of human connections to their spaces. We follow a multi disciplinary design process at Y-walls, which also means to look beyond boundaries of a specific domain. How did you land your first major design project? PB: In London, I had met the design director of the reputed design firm ‘Conran’, who referred me to Priya Paul, Chairperson of the Apeejay Group in India. A year later I got an email from Ms. Paul to meet in connection with their new hotel in Hyderabad. When I met Priya, I felt I was meeting a fellow designer rather than a rigid client. We started work on three areas for The Park Hyderabad, which led to ‘Ruby Ceiling’, ‘Nizam Light’, and the ‘Charminar Jhoomer’. All the designs had historical and local influence. ‘Ruby Ceiling’ is a graphical interpretation of Kalamkari, an ancient craft with a history of more than 2,000 years, and one

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which very few craftsmen in India still practice. It was a challenging project as it meant merging the boundaries of craft, design and architecture for a hotel space. It was even more challenging because it was a ‘ceiling’ and not a wall or a floor. During the final installation on site, we realized that the craftsmen had forgotten to mirror the design, as it’s a ceiling and needs to be fabricated upside down. The support structure was already made and there was no option but to redo 500 meters of Kalamkari fabric! A small A4 size of Kalamkari takes a week to make and it is a very labor intensive process. In that moment of crisis, I asked the carpenter in Marwari if he could suggest a solution. That day I realized that language is so powerful – the fact that I spoke in their regional language immediately connected all of us as a team! He looked at the plans, asked for a pair of scissors and we started to brainstorm. Since the design was like a puzzle, we deconstructed each element and starting designing a new puzzle. Within three hours we had a new design. Today if anyone looks at the original design and the constructed ‘Ruby Ceiling’, it would be hard to figure out the changes. That learning was great and I am glad I reached out to someone without the prejudice that only education can give design solutions. It was simple common sense and lateral thinking as a team that saved us. Tell us more about The Park Hyderabad project. PB: ‘Ruby Ceiling’ is inspired by the hand painted ceiling at my grandfather’s house in Bikaner. The project involved a detailed process of understanding the craft, graphic development, researching the natural pigments, and integrating it with the interior scheme. We used organic cotton and natural dyes to hand  37

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‘Making of The Ruby Ceiling’ - Hand drawn patterns illustrate the different styles of Kalamkari

paint the graphics. It took us a year’s time to hand paint more than 500 meters of fabric! There were services running behind the ceiling, so we had to make the fabric ceiling water proof and pest proof, and integrate lighting and structure in the tiny space available above the ceiling. We had to be cautious with the scale of the graphics to make sure it was not overpowering in the space. The experience was fantastic however, and the project was a big success. I have not visited Park Hyderabad since I finished but I still get calls from people when they see the ceiling in person. What is the most important part of designing spaces that are heavily influenced by the history and culture of India? PB: I always caution myself to be with the times while designing. Visual esthetics should look contemporary even if the inspiration is from tradition, history and culture. Context is very important. While designing for the Ministry of External Affairs, we took common visual symbols like a peacock and diya, or Indian languages instead of a very abstract imagery. The idea was to bring a more common and unanimous feel in the government space. 38  POOL #26

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‘Charminar Light’, inspiration drawn from the Charminar, Hyderabad

Culture is constantly changing and evolving, therefore when I make a design that is highly influenced by the history and culture of India, I always ask myself questions like how long can the design live, and whether someone from a non-Indian background could enjoy the space as much as an Indian would. It’s important to blend culture and design in the right proportion while keeping it visually exciting and light, without an overdose of Indian flavors. The focus should still be on the right experience for the space. Last year we made a huge three-dimensional peacock installation in stainless steel, which is a hard, monochromatic and visually cold material. We designed a unique process of hand crafting stainless steel, and a material which is industrial in nature finally looked so crafted and tactile. We are now using the same techniques for various projects where we need to hand craft stainless steel for architectural application like facades and canopies. What are the main determinants in the design process for you? PB: I don’t know if I have a very well defined structured design process for every project. An organic and intuitive thinking process is what I believe in; hence every  39

cover story project has a unique process behind it. As a designer, if you are commissioned by a client, it is very important to understand the brief and decode it to achieve the right balance of output desired by the client and output desired by you as a designer. Alignment of both is tough, and not always is the ratio 1:1. But the learning is amazing in the process of bargaining. I have learned how to ‘let go’ in a design process. Often we design for days and weeks, and scrap it in the end, if it does not work. I prefer a more objective and a businesslike approach to start from scratch rather than attaching egos with work. ‘Co-creation’ is very powerful and it is very important to see a project from others’ viewpoint at different stages. At Y-walls we make sure that everyone is involved in the design process. Quite often it is time consuming but the results are far better than a onedimensional design process. I always think of every link in the chain to make a project alive. It has to be right mix of creativity and execution with quality. The most important ingredient is to have fun; if it is boring there is no chance of it being right. What is your basic approach to designing spaces? PB: The design intent always needs to consider the context and the content for a space. While designing an element of an architectural space, it is important to research the design approach followed by the architect and also have a perspective on the end user of the space. We generally create a visual mapping chart to illustrate the semiotics of that space and brainstorm before taking the right design approach. How did you tackle the twin challenges of expansion and scalability at Y-walls? PB: In the first few years the biggest challenge for me was to learn the technical aspect of building spaces. Since every project was not just a design service but built projects, the transition from a Textile Designer to a Space Designer took me through a journey of self-learning and problem solving. It was difficult to understand architectural plans, electrical details or structures. Working with craft was an enriching process but it also had its challenges. While I worked with crafts, I wanted the results to look contemporary. My focus in the initial years and even today is only to achieve excellence. I didn’t know then how to read a balance sheet, create a business strategy or to calculate revenue numbers - now I do! However, the focus is still on designing an ecosystem at the studio, and building a strong team that loves the creative process as much as skill based execution. Expansion and scalability require acquiring business skills while keeping the core focus on design excellence and service to your clients. I have managed to scale up because I identified a gap in the Indian 40  POOL #26

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‘The Ruby Ceiling’, Hyderabad

market of providing those services to architects that they don’t have in-house, like crafted spaces, graphic solutions, material innovation, etc. Expansion is based on a very clear multiplication of the range of design solutions for different spaces. While scalability requires clear business visualization, expansion is largely dependent on execution of that visualization. Both of these require a parallel process of building a very strong team. It is very important for every practice to take a few steps back and restructure things to edit, fine-tune and secure the business pipeline in order to move forward. People management and market understanding is very tough and most crucial while maintaining the freshness in creative thinking. This only comes with experience. Today I am more confident about running a business based on design and also designing a business! What has the experience of running a design studio been like? PB: Running Y-walls has pretty much been like doing another Master’s! This time it was ‘training on the job’, and I loved the unpredictable and more organic curriculum. In the past four years I have learned how to blend my textile skills with  41

cover story architecture. It gave me a new window to look at things and have a more organic process of designing and learning. Today a lot of design services we offer to architects require a blend of visual esthetics and technically sound solutions that are a result of the organic learning in the past few years. What could students learn from your completed projects? PB: Today design education in India is changing and there is a lot of awareness and positivity among students. Students are so smart and confident enough to challenge the norms. I would suggest focusing on design thinking along with acquiring practical skills in schools. Don’t run behind money but find something that you really love. Spaces/ architecture need not be just concrete blocks. Before designing let’s think if we are designing because we love a certain idea or because it is really needed. Think about the impact of those designs on our society. Think about people who will construct your design ideas and think about people who will use those constructed spaces. Before you choose a material for your designs, think about where it comes from. Is it biodegradable or affordable? When you choose wood, think about the forest first. When you choose a craft, think about the craftsmen first. Avoid styling and think more before making choices. Build architecture that responds to local needs and has a subtle expression of our rich culture. Bring more meaning to walls. What does the future hold for Y-Walls? PB: The future is exiting because I have learned how to make pipelines. It will be interesting to see what we achieve in the coming years. I want Y-walls Design to be a conceptually and technically very sound design studio and a company that 42  POOL #26

has a self sustained ecosystem to design and build amazing spaces in India and outside. To collaborate with people from different domains and be more fearless, to take a more spontaneous and inspired approach to design! As a design entrepreneur, I want to create the right environment for the company to grow. I envision that the new studio of Y-walls Design will be like a workshop, a combination of both thinking and making. I love working in workshops and firmly believe that when you explore things in a workshop, a mix of good and bad experiments happen. The design process is more mature as the workshop environment allows you to take a more hands on approach to delivering output. The future for me is basically about more sustainable and empathetic social spaces built to bring more happiness and joy in everyday lives. It would be great to design a ‘sabji supermarket’ that has the local mandi feeling to it. I would also love to design crafted salons where women feel pretty after spending money. I want to create old age homes where old people can relive their childhood in beautiful communal spaces. I would like to design more playful school spaces, or redefine the walls of a prison. A crafted bridge, a crafted railway/metro station or a crafted hospital, I have a long list of desires! I am working on simple expression of spaces that requires clear simple design ideas, more tactile materials and quality execution. Hence I will have to wear the hat of an entrepreneur to create the right directions and ecosystem, so that when I wear the preferred hat of a designer, I find it easier to realize my dreams.

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A management graduate by training and designer by inclination, Anupama Dayal has an eponymously named fashion label that celebrates hand painted textiles

Tell us about ‘Anupamaa’. AD: It was launched in New Delhi in 2004. An important goal for the brand is ‘employment generation ‘ and our model is based on sustainable growth. We work directly and indirectly with craftspeople and several NGOs to meet these goals. We employ women from nearby villages and work towards empowering them. Our motto is to honor master skills, simultaneously honing acquired skills in house, producing a product that is unique and intensely handcrafted but in keeping with international quality standards. What inspires you to create? AD: Hand painted textiles have always been a wondrous source of inspiration to me. Like an obsessive collector, I have squirreled away in my mind bits and pieces of palampores, coramandels and machilapatnams, snapshots from museums, pictures from books, and work created in my own workshops by master craftsmen, pulling them out every now and then to fuel my imagination and my belief in the power of Indian textiles. 46  POOL #26

As an eager eyed student, this search has been informative and seductive. My focus has been on the essential beauty and ‘insane’ colors of the ‘native’ crafts that captivated the world then and remain uniquely superlative even today.  47


Phool Bagan Collection Spring/Summer 2012

Who identifies with your collections? AD: A woman who is free spirited and global. My collections try to highlight the woman’s energy and life force, and that’s why there is a lot of color. How do you differentiate yourself in the fashion market? AD: Every designer is unusual but in a time when the Indian market was high on couture and high end products, we forayed in with ready to wear and easy chic. Model Indrani Dasgupta calls our clothes ‘anytime clothes’. We concentrated then and even now on clothes which are easy to travel with, wear and be yourself in. How are buyers responding to ‘Anupamaa’? AD: Extremely well! Belinda Seper has been quoted as saying, “With Anupamaa, you get the soul of India.” The buyers claim to be in love with the eclectic, artistic look and the unusual use of color. ‘Anumpamaa’ has received a great response in Paris and has showcased at the prestigious Rosemount Australia Fashion Week.

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Where does the brand retail? AD: Currently it’s available at Ogaan, Ensemble, Bombay Electric, Amethyst and Anupamaa Store in Khan Market in Delhi. The brand is available in stores across the US, Europe, Middle East, South East and Australia. I hope to firmly establish ‘Anupamaa’ as an international luxury brand in the future. Share with us your experiences as a fashion entrepreneur. AD: It’s been a very positive experience but ‘Anupamaa’ has a long way to go with many milestones to reach. There are many challenges and demands which still have to be overcome in terms of the structure of our cottage industry, the balance of demand and supply when craft is involved, the understanding of people about handcraft and its intrinsic quality and the realization and acceptance that no two pieces can be the same when it’s handcrafted. In India cultural and seasonal issues are different from the accepted world format; this necessitates extra efforts to cater to several different seasons, festivals, etc. But the journey has been fun and fulfilling.  49


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Anupama demonstrating the design process 50  POOL #26

What are the qualities of a good fashion designer? AD: The ability to make clothes that make a woman feel confident enough to achieve her goals faster and with more happiness. A designer’s product must fulfill a need for practicality and beauty. Anyone who understands space, time and context and is able to fulfill these needs is an innovator. Personally I find inspiration to innovate even in my children’s puzzles. In my collection ‘Short Stories’, I used the puzzle blocks as accessories. What a designer must avoid is trying to be someone they are not. Self belief is very important. I always say, “They can be better than me or worse than me…but they can’t be me!”


Anupamaa jewelry collection ‘BEDOUIN’

Why do you think there is so much international interest in Indian fashion? AD: There is great international interest in Indian fashion today due to our enviable heritage of arts and crafts and efforts to keep alive the tradition of artisans and craftspeople. My own collections have been received with awe and surprise at how incredibly India is represented through our clothes! Right now Indian kurtis are making it global - they are taking the place of the shirt dress. Sharara pants instead of palazzo pants also seem to be in. What does fashion mean to you? AD: Fashion is the opportunity to express my uniqueness in a practical, esthetic and profitable manner. Fashion comes to me as naturally as breathing! I believe fashion is about functionality as much as style and substance, for only then will a product survive a long product life cycle and ensure a durable brand image.  51


MAKING HIS OWN STORY Chartered Accountancy dropout Auditya Venkatesh is ‘the boss’ of Audi Photography in Bangalore and enjoys focusing on figures of a different kind!

What makes photography an art? AV: Everybody sees things differently; the beauty of photography is that it helps capture this difference in vision, and that makes it an art to me. You can tell so many stories using the same subject. Everyone’s free to tell their story and everyone’s free to interpret it in their own way. Did you always want to be a photographer? AV: I’ve always been interested in photography but taking 52  POOL #26


‘Bliss’, Mahabalipuram Camera - 5D Mark 2 Lens 16-35 f/2.8  53

‘The smiling Brahma’, Cambodia Camera 5D Mark2 Lens - Canon 70-200 f/2.8

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photography up a career in photography was never a part of the plan. How I started with photography is pretty interesting. I was too young to be allowed to use a camera, so I used a sketchpad as a makeshift one. I’d sit people down and sketch them; I’d also sketch a little negative along with it. Once I was done I’d staple both together, put them in an envelope and give it to people. My mum still has couple of them archived somewhere! With time I grew old enough to be trusted with a camera, and got myself one of those Kodak use-and-throws. The first picture I ever took was on that. It was of my mother and sister on a boat in Kodaikanal, and I think it’s still one of my best pictures! I took that picture on 1st October 1995, and 15 years later on 1st October 2010 I started Audi Photography. With time I discovered how much more I could do. Is photography a natural skill or can it be learnt? AV: I remember something Will Smith said about this. Talent comes naturally and skill is developed from hours and hours of beating on your craft. It takes both for you to excel at anything. Talent is nothing if it isn’t backed up by skill. So it is very important to have the vision. Like with everything photography is hard work, and anyone who is willing to work hard at it can be a good photographer. Does your photography have a specific style? AV: I think my style comes from how I learnt photography itself. Everything I know about photography has been the result of a lot of trial and even more errors. I would’ve been able to learn much faster if I had formal training in photography, but I think making those mistakes helped me develop my

own style. Even today the techniques I use may not be the best way to do something, but it works best for me. I would tell all aspiring photographers this: When you take a picture, take it for yourself first. This is when you’ll develop your own style and this is what will help your work stand out. What is your personal choice of subject and location? AV: I think my preference has evolved with time. Initially it was more of objects, but with time people have started becoming a bigger part of my pictures. I read up a lot before visiting a place to try and understand what it is it that will interest me the most and what I’d like to capture. And when I finally visit it I take some time off to just scout the place; here I actually learn more about the place than when I read up about it, then I go about getting pictures. The story I want to tell helps me make the final decision. What camera do you use? AV: I use a Canon 5D Mark III and a Canon 5D Mark II. I’ve always used Canon cameras and don’t see a switch coming anytime soon. My favorite walk around would definitely be the Canon 16-35mm. It’s a great lens for my travel and landscape work and I always have that on me. What goes through your head right before you snap a picture? AV: A lot of thoughts are going through my head all at once. I start off thinking about what I want to capture about what I see and how best I can capture it, so I’m moving around trying to figure that out. Then come the technical elements such as what lens I should use to match that vision and what settings I should be on.  55


‘Vittala Temple’, Hampi. Camera 5D Mark 3, Lens - Canon 16-35 f/2..8

I also try factor in limitations, so I can then correct those aspects in post-production. So for most part of it I’m thinking about how I get the final picture to look as close to what it did in my head. How do you make your subjects feel comfortable? AV: This is pretty challenging. The minute someone’s even remotely conscious of a camera being around they go into fake mode and the picture just won’t turn out the same. So I try to remain discreet and hope the subject won’t notice. But when I can’t I try a few things to get them to feel better. So for example if I’m doing a pre-wedding shoot with a conscious couple I tell them I’m just getting the settings right and I’ll take five minutes so they can just talk. Chances are they’ll get into a fun conversation and while they’re at it I get one or two pictures in. I show them those pictures and tell them how good they look and suddenly they feel so much better being around the camera. It doesn’t take too long but it makes a lot of difference. 56  POOL #26

photography Have you ever had to photograph someone you didn’t particularly like? AV: I’d rather not be in that situation because when you’re doing something you don’t like, it begins to show in your work. It’s definitely hard; your personal judgments begin to hamper your thought process, and that in turn affects the outcome. But when you’re doing something professionally you have to set these things aside, and look at it just as the job you have to deliver on. Before I take up an assignment I do a little groundwork, interact with the people, establish boundaries, and only then take up an assignment. This helps me avoid those problems. How long does it usually take to get the ‘right picture’? AV: It’s very hard to put a number on that. Sometimes I get it in the first shot and at other times it takes a few more. But all those pictures leading up to the right one are almost as important as they help me learn something new. Once I have the picture I know I wanted to get, I stop. Do you rely on lighting, either natural or artificial, or do you engage in dark-room/computer manipulation? AV: I rely on both equally and use them as necessary. I’ve heard people say a picture should be made 85% on camera and only 15% in post-production; I never really got that. I think if you give your 100% on the camera, and 100% in post-production, that is when you can make the best picture.

‘Vortex’ Canon 550D, Lens Tokina 11-16 f/2.8  57


‘Birds of a feather’ Canon 550D Lens Tokina 11-16 f/2.8

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photography Essentially your camera, your lights, your postproduction software, they’re all tools; the more you know, the better equipped you are to tell your story. What is the most challenging part of being a photographer? AV: As with almost everything else, the challenge with being a photographer is to be able to constantly innovate and get better. For example it is to turn up at one of the most shot locations in the world and try to get that one picture that’s different from all of them, to be able to see it differently and execute it as well…that will remain the biggest challenge to me. What has been your most exciting project? AV: It has to be what I did with Make A Difference (MAD), an organization that educates children in orphanages and shelter homes. I’d read about their work before and loved what they were doing. Their National President Samarth Agarwal went on a national tour and visited all the 19 cities they were operational in. This was to help their volunteers realign with the goals of the organization. I went along with him to document all that happened. It was amazing to see more than a thousand volunteers from different walks of life uniting for the cause. And by the end of it I’d made some pretty good friends too. I’d love to work with Top Gear someday! It’s one of the best TV shows ever, and the work they do is just amazing. I’m working on a little travel + biking+ photography related project of my own, and I hope it sees the light of day soon. Has photography helped you evolve as a human being? AV: Photography has changed the way I look at so many things. I’ve had the chance of working with so many interesting people, and learning so much from all their experiences. When I started out with photography I didn’t know where it would go, or if it would even work. But the experience has taught me that if you love what you do, work hard at it and back yourself, then it’s definitely going to work.  59


www. Aanchal Bhatia, Surbhi Sethi and Neha Vohra let their creative juices flow in a recently launched blog that promises to make your head tilt in amused reaction!

Tell us a little about yourselves to begin with. HT: Neha Vohra (22) has a Bachelor’s in Design from Raffles Design International, Mumbai. A designer/ part-time blogger, she is currently doing an internship with Satya Paul in New Delhi. Surbhi Sethi (21) has a BDEs (Product Design) from Raffles Design Institute, Singapore. Based in New Delhi, she is a blogger and product designer. Aanchal Bhatia (21) has a B.A. (hons) in Fashion Retail Management from Welingkar Institute of Management Studies. A fashion consultant, she is currently a management trainee with Hidesign, Mumbai. Together we are founders, directors and co-bloggers at HeadTilt. How and why did you get into blogging? HT: Touted as the next big thing, weblogs have been our source of insight since an early age. After being swept away with overthe-top art, photography and fashion, we wanted to push the boundaries of creative expression with a platform to expose our daily inspiration. This ‘passion project’ came into existence when Surbhi came across Aanchal’s blog for a college project; they realized a common dream with aspiring fashion designer Neha, who had been looking for the perfect medium to share her understanding of fashion with the world. While our thought process was still evolving, Harpers Bazaar, India mentioned in an article that there was a dearth 60  POOL #26

of quality Indian blogs and that got us even more pumped up. We feel that with creativity becoming a contemporary lifestyle, it’s a very exciting time to be involved in sharing what stimulates our creative juices, especially in a country like India. And the need to record such a zeitgeist is what powers the creation of such tools to document the era. What is the story behind ‘HeadTilt’? HT: We chose the offbeat name HeadTilt because head-tilting is a very Indian nonverbal gesture that denotes being fascinated and inquisitive. We wanted to unveil the international perspective of this Indian means of communication, and link it with the rest of the world. Every post is a surprise, thus making your head tilt with amusement. What is the strategy for your blog in general? HT: Our endeavor can be described as pursuing the crème de la crème. We seek to take readers into a state of happy delirium by collecting rare delectable morsels, highlighting new escapades, connecting people, and initiating honest conversations. Our prime promotional strategy is to use, review and update our diverse social media tool kit. How do you build a community around your blog? HT: We connect with people in relevant communities and through social media

(L-R) Aanchal, Surbhi & Neha

like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and even Tumblr in India and abroad. We try to expand our goodwill through tie-ups with online shopping websites. We keep in touch with similar bloggers through platforms like InFB (Indian Fashion Bloggers) in India, and IFB (Independent Fashion Bloggers) internationally. How do you come up with material for your blog? Is content a priority? HT: Oh, that’s easy! As the world blooms with endless ideas, articles, conversations and innovations, we offer high impact favorites to be critiqued by the readership. Without spotlight content, a blog is vague and without readers there is no potential use for content. So, both are interlinked to yield poise and hold equal importance. We believe that injecting peachy information on an irregular basis and abandoning it for a time period can hamper the interest of readers, so bloggers should constantly be on their toes to ensure an enriched audience. It is essential to keep adding spunk and alluring twists to prettify the blog and pledge a larger audience. What are your expectations for your blog? HT: What we aspire to achieve as of now is quite simply to be able to deliver what the readership expects from HeadTilt, with constant deliberation, a constructive attitude and fabricated information. We strive to provide the

Indian creative community with a muchneeded boost by sharing rare, astonishing works of art and design. What do you find most challenging about blogging? HT: As people are not accustomed to the concept of blogging in India, it is necessary to build awareness among readers and to open their minds to new horizons with what we are doing and how it can benefit them. Generating consistent traffic and taking it to the next level with social media by indulging in ventures beyond the niches are backbreaking edges we strive to overcome. Blogging is a tad more time consuming than it may seem to be as it takes a tremendous amount of effort to prepare a cognizant audience, provide top-notch information, and make it available in a full spectrum. Do you find blogging an effective way to communicate? HT: Yes, because blogging is cost effective and has global reach at the same time. The scope of blogging is vast - content can be expanded into various plausible streams to adapt with changing environment and preferences of an unstable readership. Blogging gives us a better shot at sharing dynamic beauty conveniently and famously. It is exploratory and provides direct feedback.  61

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blogger How do you drive traffic to the blog? HT: Globally, the bloggers’ fare is saturated due to new blogs coming up every day. Quality takes center stage, creating demand where there is none by showing desirable fetishistic products and creative works. We create eye-balls by encouraging people to submit for features in HeadTilt, commenting on other blogs, participating in communities and groups online, making content SEO (search engine optimization) friendly, and connecting with the right audience. Our secret lies in providing distinct cutting edge content and thinking out of the box. Do you have a specific target audience? HT: They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We believe that inspiration for a particular field can come from any discipline. Our blog invites people from all cultures, disciplines, professions and age-groups to quench their daily inspiration needs by exploring bold, bright and beautiful things. What has been the visitor count so far? HT: HeadTilt is relatively new - it has been up and running for only a little more than a month now. We have been fortunate to have a steadily rising readership so far. Current weekly reach is about 2,0002,500 people on an average. What was the most challenging moment in the blog development process? HT: There have been no major challenges so far that could not be overcome by dividing work. Showcasing work off the Internet and getting timely permissions from authors of the content to consistently cater to readers is slightly tedious. Our shy Indian audience often refuses to cooperate when we approach them for street style, especially for beau monde fashion.

Do you have a favorite post? HT: Although we’ve equally enjoyed creating each one of our posts, the ‘Street Candy’ section is something we cherish the most since you never know what’s in store for you on that particular day. You just hit your favorite corners of the city with a camera and have a ball. Can blogging ever become a serious career option in India? HT: The blogosphere in India is shooting up at a forever-flattering rate but is still dismal when compared to our western counterparts. Blogging is restrictive due to scant penetration in India’s rural heartland and also because a majority of people are more into the virtual space of Facebook and Twitter. A lot of Indian blogs have great content but lack the picturesque elegance to stir the visual senses of their readers. It’s a long haul from passion projects to a viable career. We are not full time bloggers as of now, although that is exactly what we aspire to be! What’s your take on sponsored reviews? HT: Sponsored reviews are appropriate when a blog is fairly popular and the bloggers are able to maintain its integrity, significantly, by accepting opportunities that are relevant to their readership. Blogs can be a source of generating revenue as long as it does not lead to your views, content and opinions being influenced by a third party. If done right and full time it can be sustained as a dream profession. It depends on the personal outlook, intentions and adaptability of the blogger. Who are the bloggers you look up to? HT: We idolize various drool-worthy blogs! For Fashion/ Personal Style: Republic of Chic, Fashion Bombay, The Coveteur, The Glamourai. For Street Style: Wearabout, The Satorialist, Jak & Jil, Streetfsn. For Art, Design and beyond: HonestlyWTF, An Indian Summer, YayEveryday.  63

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