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POOL 41

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Shivani Dhar pg 32  |  Photographed by Gourab Ganguli Anubha Kakroo 02 Uzma Showkat 04  The Craft Development Institute 10  Devika Krishnan 14  Abeer Gupta 22 Akshay Kaul 44  Tinni Arora 52  Jenny Pinto 58


Editor in Chief | sudhir@indidesign.in

November 2013 | # 41

The Kashmir Issue POOL 41

POOL 41

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Shivani Dhar pg 32 | Photographed by Gourab Ganguli Anubha Kakroo 02 Uzma Showkat 04 The Craft Development Institute 10 Devika Krishnan 14 Abeer Gupta 22 Akshay Kaul 44 Tinni Arora 52 Jenny Pinto 58

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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.

http://in.groups.yahoo.com/group/designindia International Design Media Network Participant

Art is always an emotional response. Strong passions behind that emotion always produce a timeless creative work. Kashmir always evoked very intense emotions in me, maybe that is why it holds a special place in my heart. As a designer, it can be extremely liberating to be in Kashmir- in this beautiful land existing as a prized possession wanted by many. The geographically blessed region has an abundance of natural beauty which translates into a rich heritage of arts and crafts. Patterns, weaves, motifs speak clearly of the influence nature has on the work of Kashmiri craftsmen. Imagine if the same thought continues beyond art and craft and our entire existence is designed inspired purely by nature, as co-existence rather than dominance - what can be termed as 'responsive and responsible design'. We recently started INDI-Srinagar, with a very able young designer Uzma from the valley. We are also launching 'Mixin' from Srinagar, a platform for design, business, and brand talks for small businesses and industries. We hope to inspire new ideas and new passions. Hoping that next to all the poetic sobriquets that Kashmir has earned over years, comes another one of being a ‘Design destination'. POOL 41 will confirm that it is a 'work in progress' with a bright future. Amen!

Sudhir Endorsed by

Supported by


guest editor

DESIGN MESSIAHS

Jammu and Kashmir, along with Ladakh, has a rich history of craft and craftsmanship. The architecture of the region is also immensely evolved and nuanced . However, design as a profession is not something that the region has had an opportunity to develop and foster. There are many reasons for this including the escalated disturbances in the last couple of decades. This is not to say that no interventions happened in the region - there has always been a vast industry of export from the valley, especially in shawls, carpets, wood carving and paper mache. This had its own sort of a design input - partly market-led 2  POOL #41


guest editor and partly client-directed. This was also precisely the reason why it was limited and not very fundamental. On the other hand, at the time when the fledgling profession of design was taking a hold over the rest of the country, Jammu and Kashmir was hurtling towards a virtual deadlock. All this and more led the region to being a little off the design map of the country. However, the past decade has seen this being corrected. The first major thrust came with the setting up of the Craft Development Institute in the valley. This institute has single-handedly been responsible for the most numbers of trained designers working in the valley and in artisanal traditions other than the usual market-driven sectors. The institute has also developed programmes to train young people from the valley in allied fields of craft management and marketing and has undertaken some sort of documenting and archiving of traditional crafts as well. All three young designers featured in this issue - Sandeep, Abeer and Shivani, have had the opportunity to work in the kashmir craft sectors under the aegis of the CDI . Apart from that, the recent peaceful years in the valley have led to other designers coming to the valley and working with hitherto marginalized crafts like the wonderful embroidery of the nomads that Devika has worked with . Besides developing new products, the designers have not been untouched by the social aspect of working with the people in the region and have contributed to them in different ways possible. Whether it is the extensive documentation that Sandeep has done or the heritage walks that Abeer conducts.

Apart from these designers who have worked in the region and with craftspeople of the region, there are others who are native to it and the unique natural and cultural landscape of the region has played a critical part in their design philosophies. The ethos of the region lives on in for instance, the rhythm of the water in the undulating landscape which inspires Akshay to integrate the manmade and the natural in his work. It is with immense pleasure and pride that I invite you to delve into this issue of POOL and trust that the inherent aesthetic of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh will charm you as it has charmed many over the centuries. I also hope that this will lead to a deeper and longer involvement of the design community in India with the region and the future will see them use their knowledge and skills to heal the torn social, economic and cultural fabric of the valley. Aurzoo! (as we say in Kashmiri.) Anubha (Anubha Kakroo is the Director of Design and Cultural Insight at the Future Brands India Ltd. A designer donning many hats, she also acts as a mentor for innovation and entrepreneurship at IIM Ahmedabad, as well as being an advisor to many design and art institutes. She is also a visiting faculty at some of the leading design schools in India such as the NID and the School of Design at Ambedkar University. An avid traveller, Anubha is much sought after for her international perspective on design thinking and strategizing, especially in businesses.) anubhakakroo@gmail.com

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pg 30 Collin Wright

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pg2

| Photographed 8 by Sumit Sing h India Design Mark 2013 02 Tany a Khanna 08 Geetanjali Kasli Ishan Khosla 12 wal 24 Hidish, Meera Sethi 18 Yusuf & Kuldeep Priya Kuriyan 58 44 Anavila Sindh Cagri Cankaya u Misra 52 63

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foundation

THE HOMECOMING OF DESIGN

Uzma Showkat - Managing Director of INDI Design, Srinagar - shares her optimistic views on the bright future of design in Jammu and Kashmir, while banking on her accumulated design experience in different parts of the country. Tell us about your educational background. What inspired you to get into Design? How has the journey been so far? US: I was born and brought up in Srinagar, completing my schooling in the beautiful valley of Kashmir. While growing up in Kashmir, I always used to be in awe of the mesmerizing mix of natural beauty and rich heritage around me as well as the crafts and culture that has shaped up life here for centuries. The heritage buildings and numerous shrines dotting the city have a unique mixture of science and art, such as the intricate lattice designs and the unique khatam-band ceilings. Being an inquisitive kid, I always used to explore and experiment with different things to create newer everyday objects. The same curiosity led me to enroll in a course for Interior and Furniture Design, taking me from the northern part of India to one of the southern most places. I believe, the exposure to such diversity in culture has further aided my learning of design. Further on, NID has given me exposure to multiple schools of thought and abundant inspiration - all of which has helped me become the designer I am today. What kind of projects have you undertaken in the past? US: Soon after completing my degree in Interior and Furniture Design, I started working in Delhi with a design studio which majorly worked on the interior projects for hospitality and residences. Initially, I used to work in a team which helped me develop and understand the design application in the live 4  POOL #41


foundation

projects. After finishing few projects I started working on interior projects individually. I then joined NID for Masters in Design for Retail Experience, after which I worked with a Bangalore based design studio on the interiors of retail and residential projects while also developing concepts for visual merchandising for few retail brands. It was after that stint, that I joined INDI Design, Pune as a Designer and Design Strategist. I worked on cafe branding and interiors for a Srinagar-based cafe. I have also been involved in organizing different events on design and other creative workshops. How has your collaboration with Sudhir Sharma -CEO INDI Design- shaped up? When did the idea of ‘INDI Srinagar’ take seed? US: I was introduced to Sudhir in Bangalore, where he had come to deliver a talk at a design conference in 2012. We discussed about various aspects and issues relating to design, in

(Top-bottom) 3D view of a Jewellery store concept

the course of which, I came up with the idea of partnering with Sudhir and starting INDI Design, Srinagar, since Srinagar could really do with some good design services! I thought of applying my 9 year old design experience in different projects in Kashmir. Recently we completed a project for INDI Design, Srinagar which was about creating a brand for a Srinagar-based cafe. We developed a brand strategy, branding concepts and cafe interiors and furniture design for ‘The Other Side’ cafe. Working with Sudhir has been a very inspiring experience considering his wealth of experience in design. We have some more design projects in the pipeline, as well as a few branding projects, which will start soon. We are currently in the process of organizing a design conference in Srinagar on November 16, 2013 under www.poolmagazine.in  5


foundation

(Top-bottom) 1. 3D view – Cafe design at Srinagar 2. Facade view – Cafe design at Srinagar

the name ‘Mixin’, to generate awareness about branding and design where we will also be formally launching INDI Design, Srinagar. How would you describe the team and the work environment at INDI? US: My experience while working with INDI Design was nothing short of a ‘eureka’ moment! I got a chance to expand my creative horizons and interact with some truly brilliant individuals. All in all, it is great to see my ideas come to life. I delved deeper into concepts like branding, brand strategy design, spatial experience design etc. But most importantly, the creative synergies

that we have at INDI Design helps shape my ideas and working style. I learnt to work in varying roles, sometimes as an advisor, a design strategist and at other times the implementer. What is the scope for Design in Srinagar? What challenges do you foresee? US: Kashmir has a lot of scope for Design, which people need to explore. A lot of people here mistake ‘art’ to be ‘design’. People need to understand what design really means and how important the whole design process is, in differentiating your product in today’s hyper competitive world. The most www.poolmagazine.in  7


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foundation

Facade of a men’s wear store design concept

challenging aspect is to bring this change in the mindset of people, especially in a society like ours, which is hesitant to readily accept change. As the Managing Director, what is your future plan for INDI Srinagar? US: To start a ‘Design revolution’ in Jammu and Kashmir region by bringing global design practices to local businesses, industry and talent. I want to explore design potential in retail, commercial, hospitality and residential spaces here. I want to make INDI Design,Srinagar a name synonymous with good design practices and innovative marketing. I believe, design and design thinking is fundamental for all human endeavors. This need for creation is what makes us human. uzma@indidesign.in

Cash desk area of a men’s wear store design concept

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pg 30 Collin Wright

by Kurt | Photographed

Langer

y Kumar 14 Bholey 10 Tana Chitnis 58 aya 09 Mihir al 52 Omkar 02 Cagri Cank 44 Revati Gang Ashish Kalpund Mandeep Nagi a Niranjan 24 Navy & a Divy

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m 22 ingha a 60 other er rah F ooja Ajm P 16 Sa

54 Wolf ji pg ndiran Gita atto Ravee ad 10 jit N aekw Karthi KN Indra alti G ah 46 04 M Sh orbes aurang G ad F i 28 aush adan Dr. N et Sh Nashe

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pg2

| Photographed 8 by Sumit Sing h India Design Mark 2013 02 Tany a Khanna 08 Geetanjali Kasli Ishan Khosla 12 wal 24 Hidish, Meera Sethi 18 Yusuf & Kuldeep Priya Kuriyan 58 44 Anavila Sindh Cagri Cankaya u Misra 52 63

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opinion

spearheading the

CRAFT REVOLUTION

The Craft Development Institute (CDI) in Srinagar has been playing a pivotal role in the integrated development of the Indian handicrafts sector through skill training and entrepreneurial encouragement. Designer Sandeep Sangaru, who has been working with CDI on a few projects, gives us the ‘insider’s viewpoint’ on the work being carried out there, and also on CDI Director Mr. Sharique Farooqi’s dynamic leadership. temporary location. The project started off with a good briefing by Mr Sharique Farooqi - it was to create benchmarks in design intervention in the area of crafts. He was very particular about this project in ‘walnut wood’, as it was the first one to roll out of the Institute.

I was referred to Craft Development Institute in Srinagar in 2004. That was when the Director of CDI Mr. Sharique Farooqi, offered me a design project to work on, involving traditionally practiced ‘walnut wood furniture’. That was also when I visited the Kashmir valley for the very first time. CDI was a year-old by then and had a very young team working from a 10  POOL #41

So, the onus came on to me to deliver the needful through this project. I was very excited to start off. The team at CDI and I visited craftsmen and their workshops around Srinagar and held meetings with traders and dealers who would interface the products to different customers and markets. In the next few days, I visited the artisans, saw their amazing work and spoke to them at length to understand their issues and needs. Through this process, I was exposed to the city, its culture and people who practiced varied crafts in different mediums - all of which took me by awe, as I had never seen


opinion

(L-R) Sandeep Sangaru, Sharique Farooqi with the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir-Omar Abdullah at CDI

so much craft being practiced in such concentration in one particular region. This sensory and cultural exposure to many things made me very curious to see more - especially the materials and techniques they used in order to create these amazing textures. Every street would bring in a pleasant surprise through various forms of crafts used on the houses, buildings and monuments around. I was particularly fascinated by the craft of Pinjrakari and Khatumbandh - which unlike walnut woodcraft, uses geometry and intricate construction techniques in wood. I was keen to explore and use all of these crafts in the furniture and products that I would be designing under the project - not knowing then, if I ever will have an opportunity to work aging in these crafts in Srinagar. After a yearlong interaction with the craftsman and stakeholders, we managed to achieve the set goals in the form of prototypes designed for this project. The team at CDI consistently followed up and assisted me in bringing the products

to life for all of us to see and reflect on. After many visits and constant interaction with the craftsmen whom we had chosen to work with, they became a good resource and eventually good allies to CDI Srinagar and me. I still work with many of them on developing new ideas for expanding my business. Craftbeing a very individualistic art-form of creating objects for a larger consumption - cannot be homogenized, and when these individuals came together and acknowledged this, we were very pleased. This understanding brought in freshness, and new collaborations started to happen between us. Most of the new designs were well-received by the community as well as appreciated by the business community dealing in ‘walnut wood furniture’ in Srinagar. These new directions and experiments with various designers working closely with the team at CDI gave a new confidence to the craft community over these years. Connecting to the market by demonstration through prototypes created a good synergy between the stakeholders and the craftsmen. www.poolmagazine.in  11


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opinion

Following this, I worked on two more projects in the area of wooden crafts of Khatumbandh and Pinjrakari. All these projects where very exciting and challenged me to look at crafts and techniques in a completely different perspective – one that would cater to wider contemporary needs that evolved around the ways of life of the artisans and the aspirations of these individuals to keep practicing their crafts, along with creating new patrons of craft to appreciate this art. Apart from this, I was also involved in the curriculum design and development at CDI for a new post graduation programme called ‘Craft Management and Entrepreneurship Development’. This was a unique program designed keeping in mind a ‘Craft Entrepreneur’. This program gave equal stress and inputs in the areas of Design, Management and Finance. I happened to design and teach a particular module for Picture source: CDI Website

Picture source: CDI Website

this programme for a few years after its commencement. I’m fortunate to have been a part of this journey with CDI for the last 7-8 years as a consultant, where the core team always worked as a family in the face of obstacles. I would like to especially acknowledge Mr. Sharique Farooqi’s leadership towards his team, along with his vision and mission behind giving me this wonderful opportunity to be part of the journey towards building a wonderful institute. This also helped me share, explore, learn and strengthen my skills in the area of crafts and make new liaisons with a talented group of artisans and people from Srinagar and the valley. (Sandeep Sangaru is a Industrial and Furniture Designer and the founder of ‘Sangaru Design Studio’ based in Bangalore. He also co-founded ‘Digital force’- a special effect studio based in Hyderabad. An alumnus of NID, he has taught at his alma mater between 2002 and 2004 and still continues to be a visiting faculty member to many design schools in India.) sandeepsangaru@gmail.com www.poolmagazine.in  13


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pg 30 Collin Wright

by Kurt | Photographed

Langer

y Kumar 14 Bholey 10 Tana Chitnis 58 aya 09 Mihir al 52 Omkar 02 Cagri Cank 44 Revati Gang Ashish Kalpund Mandeep Nagi a Niranjan 24 Navy & a Divy

e Limiteda Insurance ion of Bajaj Financ Bajaj Allianz Life andit given against e at the sole discret by N ed scrips I Financ ions apply I *Loans v Lending approv Terms and condit hed against Bajaj Finser grap **Loans given hoto

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Photogr pg 32 |

Des ridaysh in 04 Hr 44 and Ja ati Kalsi Lakhi Ch 6 ar 26 Sw nkaya Vetosk Cagri Ca Satyajit gh 58 Sin Satyarth

m 22 ingha a 60 other er rah F ooja Ajm P 16 Sa

54 Wolf ji pg ndiran Gita atto Ravee ad 10 jit N aekw Karthi KN Indra alti G ah 46 04 M Sh orbes aurang G ad F i 28 aush adan Dr. N et Sh Nashe

upta Aditi G

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Baj rance retion of Life Insu sole disc aj Allianz ance at the inst Baj I Fin given aga roved scrips g app ly I *Loans ons app Finser v Lendin conditi aj Terms and n against Baj give **Loans

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Suresh Sethi pg 30

pg2

| Photographed 8 by Sumit Sing h India Design Mark 2013 02 Tany a Khanna 08 Geetanjali Kasli Ishan Khosla 12 wal 24 Hidish, Meera Sethi 18 Yusuf & Kuldeep Priya Kuriyan 58 44 Anavila Sindh Cagri Cankaya u Misra 52 63

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craft & cULTURE

Homing The

NOMADS

Meet Devika Krishnan – designer and recipient of the ‘Goldman Sachs 10000 Women Entrepreneurs’ scholarship - who has taken up the cause of reviving and sustaining the art and craft traditions of Kashmir’s migrant Gujjar Bakarwal community. What got you involved in Design? Can you tell us about your background? DK: The 5 years that I spent at NID got me hooked to Design. I could have been a vet, a dramatist, a historian, as per the other colleges that I had applied to, but NID was the first to call me! Tell us about the Shepherd Crafts Project. How did you come up with the idea of undertaking a project that showcases the Kashmiri art and craft? What was the main aim and objective? DK: I was in Srinagar for a while when a chance meeting with a friend’s friend made me aware of the very existence of the Bakarwal community. Their way of life intrigued me as it was still fairly primitive and I felt there would be craft traditions that are fairly uninfluenced by the fast-changing world, that we could explore. Seeing groups of them blocking the highways with their herds of goats and elaborately saddled ponies, I couldn’t help but get engrossed in their sense of colour and motif. It was love at first sight when I held a brightly embroidered cap in my hands! Very little is known of the Gujjar Bakarwals even though they form a third of the population in the valley of Kashmir. Their sense of style, colour and way of life is very different from that of the rest of the Kashmiris. No one till date has documented their crafts and traditions – a startling fact considering the fact that they have been around for centuries! A majority of them have been affected by the conflict which even though has largely ignored them, has none-the-less curbed their migrant lifestyle. 14  POOL #41


craft & cULTURE

iPad cases

They are often caught in the ‘crossfire’ between separatists and the government, since most are not on the census. The main aim of the ‘Shepherd Crafts Project’ is to provide individual and collective identities to the Gujjar Bakarwal communities that reside in villages around Pahalgam, Kashmir for a few months twice a year. The other aim is to document, revive and sustain traditional hand skills of this tribe as they are an important link to who we are as Indians today. Can you elaborate on the research that went into the project? What were the challenges that you faced? DK: There was no research at all to begin with, owing to the lack of documentation! Even today, it is an uphill task finding any worthwhile documents on these people. The Tribal Research Institute has some extensive

academic research on the population and their demographic and there are a couple of coffee table books with glossy pictures of these people and most recently, there is a wonderful documentary to refer to; but we are yet to find any credible, extensive research on their craft and culture. This in itself is a huge challenge. This coupled with the constant bandhs, curfews, the fragile situation in the valley, a constantly migrating subject matter and the distance between my home and the project site – I couldn’t have asked for a more challenging project to sink my teeth into! Tell us about the Kashmiri craftsmen whom you worked with. You must have a lot of tales to tell relating to your experience of working with them. Can you share some with us? DK: I work with women from the Gujjar Bakarwal tribe of migrant shepherds in www.poolmagazine.in  15


craft & cULTURE

Hand braided belts

Kashmir. They migrate with their goats, cattle and ponies in search of sub-alpine pastures throughout the year. While the Gujjars have their winter homes down by the river Lidder near Pahalgam, from where they move up into the mountains around them near Kolahoi glacier in the summer, the Bakarwals migrate hundred of kilometers from the Dras area near Ladakh in summer to Rajouri near Jammu in winter. They live most of the times in tents that they pitch while camping in high altitude meadows. My experiences consist of re-learning many things that I took for granted. For example, when an elderly bead jewelry maker was told that she could not count and I further asked her how she would know if one of her goats were to go missing, she replied, “Don’t they have faces?” This made me think of how much in-born memory I have had to off-load in order to fit in manmade systems of numbers, alphabets and images! As a people- though they are looked down upon by the average Kashmirithey are calm and disinterested in all the 16  POOL #41

turmoil that surrounds them, keeping themselves busy with their migratory way of life. This has kept them secluded and ignorant of the fast changing sociopolitical scenario in the valley. They are warm and loving, but also shy and reserved, which is why it takes a while to break the ice and get working. The project is only 2 years old, so its rather early to form an impression of the people and their culture as yet. I have miles to go before I get any answers at all. What all products did you come up with during this collaboration? DK: The current objective of the project is to explore as many skills as possible and document them. Already their way of making silver jewelry is extinct, so we are collecting as many pieces as possible in order to study and develop them and eventually train new artisans to make them. We have been working with their embroideries which are brightly coloured and of free-form. We do not interfere in their sense of colour and motif, but have provided them


craft & cULTURE with quality materials and asked for quality work in return. They cannot work on complicated forms, so we get embroideries done on rectangular bits of ‘dasoot’ (a traditional Kashmiri cotton fabric used in crewel work etc.) and then fashion them into bags, belts, cushions, etc. to be sold in the urban markets. Since the project is young, the focus is on getting as much visual reference as possible and making a dictionary of motifs for future reference. We have recently started working with the spinners who spin their goat’s wool into yarn and plan to collaborate with weavers in making rugs, scarves, stoles etc. There is still a myriad crafts we need to assess and address, but we are pacing carefully so as to not lose Boho bags focus on our core purpose of made from bringing together a collective saddle cloths identity. As of now, the processes are of a greater importance to me than the products. We envisage a museum in the future exhibiting the Gujjar Bakarwal culture and traditions. What were your inspirations while working on the Kashmiri craft? DK: The valley of Kashmir is spectacular in all seasons- 360 degrees and 365 days of the year. It is the easiest place to work in for a creative mind. I am in the process of studying the women’s source of inspiration, since I have only fashioned products and fine-tuned their skills, and cannot take credit for the design. While the work might seem wild and abstract on face-value, a closer study reveals a sense of rhythm and a vague pattern of sorts. The stitches and motifs reflect the pines, ripples in the river, blades of grass and I suspect even the star-bursts of psychedelia (an often repeated motif) which is one of the experiences when the brain gets oxygen starved and one experiences lightheadedness at high altitudes. We are now in the process of developing a range of products using traditional Kashmiri skills of Pashmina weaving, Sozni, Paper Mache, wood carving etc. to make products inspired by the natural beauty that surrounds the river Lidder www.poolmagazine.in  17


craft & cULTURE as it flows from a glacier to join the mighty Indus. The shepherd community traverses paths along this river and hence it is of great importance to our project. In your opinion, what role does ‘culture’ play in Indian Design? DK: Our culture is the soil into which we plant our seeds of enquiry. The resulting plant that grows to bear fruit is nourished by this very culture. While we adapt to the changing environment around us, our soil remains our source of nourishment and growth. Unadulterated soil -pure and absolutewill give us the sweetest but also the smallest fruit, the least in number too. Soil that is blindly pumped up with ‘that what is trending in the market today’ will yield quick, bountiful, but rather undistinguished crop. While both of the above are valid ways to move forward and grow, it would be ideal to work in a realm that is a perfect mix of the two, where we make use of external influences to enhance design without losing touch with who we are and where we come from. Being an Indian, I couldn’t have asked for a better culture to ideate from. In terms of Indian Design, I feel it’s still finding it’s identity. Any advice to young designers who would want to initiate a project similar to yours? DK: Oh plenty! Here goes: 1. The crafts community does not need us, we need them. 2. In a livelihood project, people come first, then their process of doing things and finally the product. Design plays an important role in all three areas. 18  POOL #41

3. We know very little of what they do and why they do it. At best, we can grasp how they do their craft. 4. Patience, persistence and being unobtrusive are some of the qualities needed. It often takes months of just hanging around and being useful, to get immersed into a community’s way of life. That is, if one is interested in designing from ‘within’. This method builds a project that will sustain for a longer period and grow in strength. But if ‘45 prototypes in 15 days’ is the client’s brief, then by all means- go ahead, plunder. 5. Often, a craft-based livelihood project such as this one, is all about people and addressing their issues and not about the product, so it’s best to throw that sketch pad/ iPad out of the window! 6. Keep costs realistic since there are often no funds outside one’s own pocket. It takes a couple of years for the project to break-even, so be patient and figure out ways of making additional money if you are self-funding the project. Often, external funds come with their own agendas that require a separate focus. 7. A camera is a worthwhile link to where you are, so document everything and anything-places, people, processes and products. While I am great at advising this, I am terrible at doing so myself and have a staccato blog that speaks whenever I find the time to update it. A time schedule with at least one day a week dedicated to sorting out the collected data and updating your journal would be ideal. I am yet to get there, so apologies! 8. An organically evolved product that keeps true to the community’s sense


craft & cULTURE of aesthetic sells best, regardless of what product one fashions from their skills, so long as it is somewhat utilitarian. I have come to understand that the lesser I intervene in their aesthetic sense, the more the product resonates of their culture, and the better its chances are of selling in urban markets, as we all are looking for unique products that speak a story, a piece of faraway land that we possess and proudly showcase in our homes. 9. Quality is my only constant in all the crafts projects I work for – a value that is most essential to a product but also the toughest to impart to the makers, the buyers and often the parent organization that has hired me for the job. 10. Do not worry about the market or even competition. If the product is original in design, wellmade and performs a simple and obvious function, it will sell. devikamails@gmail.com

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pg 30 Collin Wright

by Kurt | Photographed

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pg2

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communication design

walking the

talk

Through his venture – ‘Srinagar Walks & Craft tours’ - Filmmaker and Communication Designer Abeer Gupta takes people down the arterial route to where the rich heritage of Kashmir’s art and craft originates.

Jammu and Kashmir happened by chance, and I believe it was simply waiting to put my education and experience to test. First it drew me into some of the most outstanding craft practices of the subcontinent, in what was perhaps, one of the most volatile regions in recent years, and then gave me the opportunity to conceive, design and execute projects there.

What got you involved in Design? Please tell us about your background. AG: I went to study film at NID. Initially there was some conflict about studying film at a design school, but NID soon dispelled all of them and opened numerous new avenues to explore visual media, introducing me to crafts as part of a socio-cultural process. Following that, I worked in advertising and feature films in Mumbai for a couple of years and directed a couple of documentary shorts. All the while, I was drawn to visualanthropology, and Goldsmiths College in London helped me merge documentary film with the ideas I was interested in. 22  POOL #41

What was the idea behind instigating ‘Srinagar Walks & Craft tours’? How did it originate and why ‘Srinagar’? AG: I went to Srinagar on a teaching assignment after my return from London in 2009. This was a unique opportunity to get to know the city and the politics of Kashmir, which I knew very little of. I was at once fascinated and mystified by its rich and layered history! I walked all around the old city of Srinagar, lovingly referred to as ‘downtown’, totally enchanted with its inhabitants, the sights and sounds. In 2009 Srinagar still did not have as many tourists, and even less ventured into downtown. It was generally considered a bit unpredictable, but on the contrary it


Calendars for Amar Mahal Museum & Library (L-R) 1. The coronation of Nal, 2. Detail of palace gardens. Photo courtesy the Amar Mahal Museum and Library

was most welcoming. The old folks of downtown were very familiar and comfortable with foreigners walking around from before the troubled years, and were happy to let people in and talk frankly about the old days. I knew somehow that I had to share these experiences with others. During the initial days, I met Renuka - a senior from NID who was associated with the Craft Development Institute in Srinagar. Taking inspiration from Ifte’s calcuttawalks.com., by early 2010, Renuka and I were discussing the idea of doing walks and craft tours. She was hoping to create an informed interaction with the Kashmiri craftsmen by visiting their workshops in order to raise awareness about the painstaking process and the high level of skill involved with the crafts of Kashmir. As luck would have it, that summer, a dear friend put together a group from Bangalore who were happy to be our first guests. So we started designing an itinerary and the logistics around it. This first tour was perhaps the most dramatic, as curfew was declared the same day the group arrived, but we managed to pull off the tour and the guests went away very happy. How do these walks/tours operate? Can you explain to us the entire design of the project? AG: Towards the end of 2010 we were formally invited by the Department of Tourism to design the ‘Srinagar Walks and Craft Tours’ and we started compiling all our notes and ideas. The first task was to actually walk the by-lanes, over and www.poolmagazine.in  23


Brochure (Inside page), Srinagar Walks 24  POOL #41


communication design over again, getting our facts right, collecting numerous stories, making numerous friends. Travel today is much more than sightseeing - clients are constantly looking for a more meaningful interaction with the places and people they visit, and the walks and craft tours had to cater to that. It was about giving the traveller a chance to experience some part of the vibrant culture they were visiting, all packed into a couple of hours. Each individual traveller had different tastes and expectations, so it was about understanding what was of interest to them, and then having them explore and enjoy that. But over and above everything, it was an exercise in custom-made storytelling. It was about helping the traveller relate to what they were seeing – to the history and cultural practices of the place. We were trying to connect the dots of a rich multicultural past of Kashmir – but the trickier part would be to keep them interested and make them pay for it happily. Tourism is a very developed industry in Kashmir and we were hardly experts in that field, but some of these ideas were rather new and we spent long hours explaining what we were trying to do and how it could add to what some of the existing tourist guides were doing. The tasks at hand included the following: • Design of the actual walks and craft tours – what are people going to see, what are the things that are going to be discussed – on-ground logistics on our routes, design of promotional and marketing strategy •

Design of brochures, handouts – determining what role it would play

– choosing content and graphically designing it As part of our contract we held workshops to train young people from some of these neighborhoods to take this up as an independent enterprise. We are also constantly speaking to various representatives from the tourism industry to raise awareness about our project – 1these tours have the potential to increase the duration of stay of travellers in Srinagar benefiting businesses at all levels. By 2012 we started doing walks for friends and demonstrations for officials from the Department of Tourism and representatives from the tourism industry. A number of agents were willing to build this into itineraries for certain discerning clients. I can safely say that the years spent in research and development of these tours is finally making a small mark and a very slow but steady stream of guests are coming. Even so, there is still a long way to go! What kind of research went into developing the plan? What were the challenges faced? AG: The Srinagar Chapter of INTACH had already done extensive research and documentation on the city’s architectural heritage; they had even marked out a number of paths along the old city, which we looked at closely. We went through considerable amount of readings of history, colonial travelogues, and contemporary academic as well as personal accounts. Along with these more formal published histories, I was keen to incorporate a lot of oral histories – a lot of myths and legends off the street, since the primary task was to extract stories which would help us recreate the past and help relate to the present. www.poolmagazine.in  25


communication design

Brochure (Inside page), Srinagar Craft 26  POOL #41


communication design

Greeting Cards for Amar Mahal Museum & Library, 'Damayanti looking out of palace window, waiting for Nal' Photo courtesy the Amar Mahal Museum and Library

In any form of representation, stereotypes are always a challenge, people come expecting to see beautiful mountains, streams, gardens and lakes, since that is what they associate with the concept of Kashmir. In fact, there is much more to it and guiding people to be able to see beyond that – that was our vision. As outsiders, everything we did was often looked upon with a certain amount of suspicion, and rightfully so, but once we sat and discussed our concerns, those often dissipated. The major concerns were the relevance and benefits of the project to locals, and their involvement – as that would be the key to making this endeavor sustainable. You have worked on the famous Amar Mahal Museum of Jammu. Can you explain to us the kind of projects that were undertaken by you? AG: I was invited to visit the museum in the spring of 2010 by Dr Jyotsna Singh, who had recently taken over as director. After an initial survey we decided to start with the digitization of the collection of photographs, creation of a digital archive and planning of certain outreach events at the museum.The work at the AMML was of a completely different nature. It called on my technical expertise, as we started working on digitization, conservation, storage and subsequently moved to design of display, lighting and museum memorabilia. Dr Jyotsna Singh is a wonderful inspiration and the mind behind the museum’s upgradation. She would sit me down and discuss the pros and cons of various ideas she had, and then each year we would make additions or modification to the space in consultation with Dr. Karan Singh and the museum staff headed by Shri Raghu Pathania. In 2011, once the digital archive had taken some shape, we decided to create a set of archival images of Jammu – a post card set, and a portfolio of royal portraits of the Dogra Maharajas. These were released during a symposium on Pahadi Miniatures. www.poolmagazine.in  27


communication design The following year we also undertook the refurbishment of the ‘Nepal Room’. We also undertook the redesigning of the entrance hall, adding a photomontage of the life of Dr. Karan Singh and added a gift shop to the museum. In 2012, we designed a portfolio set of five plates, a calendar for 2013, a set of five greetings cards and two coasters –all bearing details from the Nala Damayanti series of Pahadi miniatures. Along with the post cards of Jammu and the portfolio of the Maharajas, we are trying to build a collection of memorabilia for the gift shop. The visitor movement around the museum has been reworked, and we are currently in the process of upgrading

the signage and adding a few more galleries to the renovated basement. Jyotiji is also very keen on developing certain local crafts of Jammu like the Samba block-prints and gota-patti work into gifts by involving local womens’ self help groups. What kind of design attention is required in the J&K region? What kind of problems can the designers address to? AG: Kashmir has been blessed with a deep sensibility towards arts and crafts; the natural beauty and the philosophical traditions have aided the development of great insight into materials, the use of colours and forms. These have a

Post-Cards for Amar Mahal Museum & Library, Assembly with Maharaja Pratap Singh Photo courtesy the Amar Mahal Museum and Library

28  POOL #41


Post-Cards for Amar Mahal Museum & Library, Raja Amar Singh outside his newly built palace Photo courtesy the Amar Mahal Museum and Library

great reputation and identity around the world, developed over centuries. Though a lot of contemporary digital printing technologies and audio-visual media have been making inroads into both the regions of Jammu and Kashmir, the concepts, concerns and ethics of contemporary design thinking is rare. Two and a half decades of political conflict has had its effects on the socio-cultural expression of the region. However if young local designers choose to educate themselves, question their form and employ ethical design practices, the region can surely rediscover itself. In your opinion, what roles do ‘Culture’ and ‘Communities’ play in Indian Design? AG: They play quite a significant role. However small the job, the socio-cultural context and the political implications of

design are substantial. Working in places such as Jammu and Kashmir has these dynamics playing rather overtly and they constantly loom over the smallest decisions at every stage. In other places, especially our growing urban networks, these may not be so explicit, but I think, they do exist. Another issue, which Indian Design might want to consider when it comes to working with culture and communities, is of representation. Any advice to young designers who would want to initiate a project similar to yours? AG: Simple is beautiful. Design – if really integrated into culture – needs to change, evolve and constantly rediscover itself, just like culture does. abeer.gupta@gmail.com www.poolmagazine.in  29


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n

st ver y fir nce the st Shares, e ri e p x E ain nce* oan Ag online L nds and Insura l u va F ro l p a le ap Mutu princip

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pg 30 Collin Wright

by Kurt | Photographed

Langer

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m 22 ingha a 60 other er rah F ooja Ajm P 16 Sa

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pg2

| Photographed 8 by Sumit Sing h India Design Mark 2013 02 Tany a Khanna 08 Geetanjali Kasli Ishan Khosla 12 wal 24 Hidish, Meera Sethi 18 Yusuf & Kuldeep Priya Kuriyan 58 44 Anavila Sindh Cagri Cankaya u Misra 52 63

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cover story

Telling Tales

Shivani Dhar, creator of ‘Gaatha’- the online blog and store for handicraft products made by Indian artisans - talks about the need to marry craft-research with technology in order to conserve India’s craft heritage and also about her soft spot for Kashmir. 32  POOL #41


cover story

Pashmina weaver

What got you involved in Design? Please tell us about your background. SD: Having grown up as an inquisitive kid, I liked observing people and asking a lot of questions. Over time, I grew quieter but the search never ended. Expressing without talking taught me many skills and I began sketching and painting – human forms, crabs and lobsters more than anything else. (Probably because I was a biology student!) Meanwhile, I also learnt embroidery and would make art pieces to gift people, which got me a lot of positive and encouraging responses. The process was meditative and fulfilling. Being good academically in a Kashmiri family meant that I would either be a doctor or an engineer (My www.poolmagazine.in  33


cover story

Pashmina Kani shawl

father is an engineer and mother, a homemaker after she left her job as a teacher). To keep both the options open, I took up both Mathematics as well as Biology in High School. Those were the most socially inactive years of my life during which my love for different genres of music grew. Going with the flow of things, I would have, for sure, become an engineer, but I am thankful to my father who could see an artist inside me and brought me the application form of an architectural course at SPA instead. Afterwards I worked as an architect in Delhi for some time before joining NID to explore new ideas. NID’s interdisciplinary education gave me a chance to see and work with different disciplines of Design. I had a world of my favorite things to do in front of me and all the freedom to choose... and I chose not to take up a job, but to start my own design venture.

Pashmina Kani shawl 34  POOL #41

What inspired you to name your venture ‘Gaatha’? SD: Gaatha is a word of Sanskrit origin and means ‘a great story’ – a legend of the craftsmen and their crafts. The sole purpose of the initiative was to tell stories, to create a database of the folklores, myths and memoirs of the past that shape the social behavior and understanding of


cover story our society. Most of the crafts are an outcome of man’s primary occupationsto hunt, farm, store, create shelter and adorn. Therefore, these stories invariably weave around the stories of their skilled ventures. We chose a fish as our logo because fish has been depicted as a great storyteller in many folktales. We started documenting crafts in and around Gujarat initially, given the inexperience and monetary constraints. We were bootstrapping all the way till very recently, when we started our online store (shop.gaatha.com). How did you come up with the idea of undertaking a project that showcases the Kashmiri art and craft? What was the main objective? SD: Kashmir is my birthplace and also a place that has suffered immensely in the early 90’s, resulting in migration of Pundits from the state. As a kid

I remember being taken by my grandmother to the local jeweller shop, owned by a woman with a taste for good things. She would always have her own designs tailor-made from the jeweller, explaining to him exactly what she wanted as the outcome. This discussion of possibilities would go on till the desired level of satisfaction was achieved. I remember observing all of it and I don’t remember a moment of lost interest. Everything about the experience – the visuals of embroidery, and wooden furniture, the aroma of kesar and cinnamon emanating from the piping hot ‘kevha’ and the other multi-sensory delights- was firmly implanted in my memory and my heart. Then, in 2006 on a re-visit, it was heart shattering to find it replaced with starkness and hopelessness. I started wandering around the streets by myself to dig all of those skilled masters out of their caves. The Craft Development Aari embroidery pouches

www.poolmagazine.in  35


cover story Institute (CDI) of Kashmir- an initiative by former NIDians to revive and preserve the rich heritage of the statehelped me with contacts and navigation within the city. My first job was to get to these people and then to make them talk without inhibitions. I covered several stories of 11 different crafts, going to each one of these workshops in and around Srinagar individually. There is much to absorb and we are developing samples, reworking upon the artists and meanwhile we are also working towards putting up these stories on the Gaatha portal with an aim of providing them with a face and a global audience.

What were your inspirations while working on the Kashmiri craft? SD: Their work and sensibilities towards aesthetics are already very refined and inspired- nature being their main source of inspiration. I worked with them on the idea of making ‘fast-running products’ for contemporary usage while keeping the traditional skills intact. How do you promote your online retail? What promotional techniques work best for you and why? SD: We haven’t gone into the direction of grand banners and highlighted sale prices for promotion. All our products are handpicked from the artisan’s Crochet pouches

36  POOL #41


cover story

Willow wicker basket

workshop. Our stories are our sole marketing tools. All the craft stories and products on Gaatha portal have the name of the interviewed crafts person and the creator of the product. This has been getting us orders so far. What kind of research is involved in your work? SD: There are intensive field surveys done on city level and detailed craft documentations done with individual craftsmen - right from the source of the raw material and the process of the craft, to digging down to its origin with the help of folklores or literary research. Tell us about the Kashmiri craftsmen whom you worked with. What were their backgrounds? How was your experience working with them? SD: Most of the people I met have been traditionally into their crafts. Some are more open to new ideas than others, in which case work progresses faster. Even so,the pace is a tad bit slower here as compared to other states, owing to the poor infrastructural facilities, a not-so-great connectivity with the rest of the country and the perpetual state of unrest in the region. What are the processes behind developing the artisan-market connection? How is it done? SD: We thoroughly leverage existing documentation and our academic researcher network to mark out potential clusters for our field visits. Sometimes we obtain a local contact which often ends up in a wild goose www.poolmagazine.in  37


cover story

Silk carpet weawer 38  POOL #41


cover story

chase. During our visit - upon coming across clusters rich in activity - we thoroughly document the work and build the supply chain with the artisans. Often, we have to provide elementary training in coding, pricing, packaging, local shipping and basic banking to the artisans. We encourage artisans to pick up basic outreach skills needed in updating their online showcase, sometimes even as basic as clicking pictures of new produce and sending them across. We also engage in co-creation projects, wherein we try to forge industry – artisan partnerships by hosting co-creation sessions and figuring how artisans can add value to industries on a sustained basis for stable revenue streams. What all products did you come up with during this collaboration? Why is it important for you to have storytelling incorporated alongside the products and the art-form? SD: We are still in the process of developing the products. Right now we

are promoting individual craftsmen on the Gaatha portal by writing about them and getting them to sell their existing products on the store. We actually began with only storytelling and no notion of retail. Storytelling is thus key to Gaatha. However, what is more important is the ‘Wiki’ aspect of the storytelling. We, in the longer run, envision Gaatha as a people-powered platform, where the masses themselves are the curators of their continually evolving heritage story with some mild moderation and control thrown in. While we are still closely observing the recent retail pilot numbers and are comparatively unsure of it’s impact on revenues, we are sure of the power of storytelling in the mission of gathering patrons to lost forms of craft. You will see new designs on the store as and when we finish working on them. How has Gaatha helped artisans so far in quantifiable terms? SD: Ever since our crafts research was mobilized Nov 2009, we have empaneled about 3000 artisans and about 35 NGOs www.poolmagazine.in  39


cover story

Willow wicker

hailing from clusters across Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Kashmir and Orissa. During our crafts research, we have researched, documented and published material on 177 crafts from the above mentioned states. We strive to keep a healthy diversity in the coverage of our research from pottery to weaving to metal work to carving to painting to musical instruments. Our ‘Crafts Wiki’ went live on Mar 2010 and till date we have spread handicrafts knowledge to about 1,46,000 online visitors with a current rate of about 500 daily visitors. Our ‘Crafts Retail pilot’ went live on 23 August 2013, our social network reach has increased 5 folds from 2k to 10k ever since. Our retail platform has been visited by 11,828 visitors in the short span of 1.5 months, generating a business of about 4 lakh INR. We currently have about 40  POOL #41

450 daily visitors on the platform and this rate is steadily climbing as we add variety to our wiki-documentation as well as selling showcase. In a short pilot of 1.5 months, we generated a revenue of 429,216 of which payouts worth 2.4 lakhs are being remitted to 76 artisan households across the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa. Of these households about 42 were impacted directly while other were reached via 3 associate organizations. Why do you think it is important to revive traditional crafts, preserve conventional skills and develop financial viability for them? SD: India holds less than 2% of the annual $400 Billion worth world handicraft market even with its rich heritage, while much younger countries hold larger shares just by better marketing & quality processes.


Gaatha - webpage www.poolmagazine.in  41


42  POOL #41

Photograph © Mir Muneeb


cover story

Team Gaatha

Being the second largest Argo economy in the world with about 760 million farmers, most engage in handicraft activities in the off-seasons. Then there are full time Handicraft artisans. This totals to a varying estimate of about 55 million full time and 200 million part time artisans engaging in the second largest occupation in the country. Lack of livelihood opportunities often reduces these skilled artisans to urban slum-dwelling day-laborers. We are losing out on the much higher value generating capacities. Besides, the beautiful products they make should not just sit as objects in the show window. They have a socio-cultural context, a history, the face of its creator behind them - all of which will get their true value only when brought in front of the world. If these 200 Million people are made self-reliant, then besides bringing enormous economic rejuvenation, it shall also release the pressure on other Govt. bodies themselves. (Primarily - health, education, livelihood, shelter, sanitation, urban development) Too much focus, for too long, has been on ‘Research and Documentation’ by private and public initiatives alike. Only researching and archiving craft is not enough - ‘sales’ and ‘exposure’ are key to self-reliance. Online is where the real reach is, yet there is very scant and disorganized information online about Indian Crafts. Hence Gaatha. When a craft dies, not only do we lose the object, but we also lose generations of faith and wisdom that went into the object, that showed us an elegant, balanced way of life. Today Gaatha recognizes this, which is why we aim to bring the lost respect and wealth back to these beautiful and aesthetically rich Indian handicraft clusters. shivanidha@gmail.com www.poolmagazine.in  43


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landscape

Indigenously Ingenious Architect Akshay Kaul - a home-grown crusader of ‘environmentally sensitive design’ - gives credit to Kashmir’s bountiful nature for his grounded approach towards Design and Architecture.

44  POOL #41


landscape

(Left page, Top-Bottom) 1. Islamic University for Science and Technology, Kashmir Proposed View of the walk from student centre to library 2. Ongoing construction of Club and Conference Centre, Pahalgam 3. Islamic University for Science and Technology, Kashmir Proposed view of area between academic blocks

How did you arrive at the decision of taking up Design and Architecture as a career? AK: Well, having grown up in and around manufacturing industries, I was clear about my disinterest in a life associated with the drone of it all. I also did not like the stratification in such communities and the vertical hierarchy associated with such places of work. Growing up on the top of such a pyramid meant a lot of ‘do’s and don’ts’ and isolation. Even though I was fascinated by big machines and would often sneak into the factory with my father during commissioning of some of his projects, I more enjoyed spending the day in the forests and nearby streams, playing in the evening, preparing for tournaments etc. I was - or maybe, became - a person of arts. I would draw and paint, liked poetry, dance, drama and music. This refuge and creative isolation that I sought in arts, gave me the confidence to be on my own rather than follow a path. To a great extent, being in wilderness or around pristine nature has shaped my sense of beauty and aesthetics. Nature has enhanced my sense of observation and receptivity. The impressions of traveling into Kashmir by road, first from Pathankot, then Jammu and finally flying into the valley and spending time all over Kashmir valley, was an experience that is still imprinted all over me. The smells from the kitchen, the markets and the grocers, the bakeries, the river Jhelum, sound of trickling streams or roaring Lidder, mountains, lakes and temples, urban mud and timber house in old part of Srinagar, and above all, the warmth of the people, has shaped me and my notion of design and architecture. So, what I do is shaped by my concern for people, and my bid to help them access beauty through design and architecture - a sense of beauty and aesthetics which is not limited to style or that which only meets the eye, but is rooted in balance and harmony. Do you own a design philosophy/vision? AK: Yes, I am concerned about the planet and not just human beings and our unending desires. In philosophical tradition, I closely adhere to the principles and teachings of Kashmir Shaivism - of non-duality, that ‘all are part of universal consciousness’. Man, animal, insects, birds, trees, www.poolmagazine.in  45


landscape

shrubs, mountains, rivers, lakes, rocks, soils all are part of the same universal consciousness. So one affects the other and any shift or imbalance in one disturbs the balance and harmony of the planet. So our philosophy though design is one where decisions are made through discrimination and optimization of resources and energy. We use materials that are least destructive to the environment and that would return to Mother Earth as five elements rather than leave behind a burden of inorganic debris. When you say that your focus is to construct ‘environmentally sensitive design’, what factors come into consideration? What kind of research goes into creating sustainable, ecofriendly designs? AK: ‘Environmentally sensitive design’ is something that comes to us from our philosophical grounding, not as a fashion statement or marketable USP. As I became more grounded in this philosophical tradition, it became a very natural extension of me to think more deeply about environmental sensitivity 46  POOL #41

and expand our work in that broad spectrum. It is the intent and complexity of addressing multiple dimensions though design that intrigues me and keeps me going. The visual or what the eye sees is an outcome of many layers, issues and complexities, that are addressed through design. Design loses its subjectivity in the process, as it becomes more inclusive and responsive. So, for instance, if we design a lighting bollard, we would use less embodied material – so not steel, or very little MS if at all, rarely acrylic, mostly stone or other material that would be reusable or that would decompose. We would work with craftspeople to provide them livelihood, we would work with not one contractor as we would want equity to be distributed, we would rarely use acid wash, or chemical treatment of materials. So, the list is long. We do create a lot of challenge for ourselves, but then that’s just me! Yes, we do extensive research for every project. We read Gazetteer, we do online research, we look for recent papers, we travel in that region before we take up work


landscape or formulate any ideas. We work on site extensively and constantly upgrade to bring in the best practices from over the world into our work. We have friends all over the globe with whom we interact, share, learn and grow constantly. Research and learning is an everyday part of my life. In the process, we try and bring in the best practices at a much lesser cost, with unique Indian aesthetics, appeal and contextual relevance. You have worked in the valley of Kashmir and designed a couple of landscape projects. Can you take us through the journey of one of those projects, right from its conceptualization to execution? AK: Yes, we won the design competition for the Islamic University for Science and Technology along with architects Stephane Paumier. I was going to Kashmir for the first time in 19 years after the 90’s. It was an unusual experience to be welcomed by the Vice- Chancellor, the people and the overwhelming response that our design drew from the local architects, the community and the press. It was heartwarming for me as a personal experience, as I was staying in a hotel and not with my family or relatives – in a culturally different Kashmir from which I was accustomed to. (Clock-wise) 1. Club and Conference Centre at Pahalgam, Kashmir - Sketch View 2. Club and Conference Centre at Pahalgam under construction

The other project is the Club and Conference Centre in Pahalgam in Kashmir, on the edges of the river Lidder. It had always been my dream to design something in Kashmir. The design was a part of a competition that was won by the architects and we created a landscape inspired by Kashmir, yet contemporary in approach. Our story of landscape begins

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landscape

Dunagiri, Uttarakhand

with water and in this case snow. How to create poetry with the movement of water as it passes through the site, as it melts from the roof, as the rain lashes on the ground - each movement is a choreography intended to recharge the ground, clear the ground, drain the site and celebrate it as a poetry, much like what I experienced as a child in the valley of Kashmir. We made elaborate drawings for this government project (normally we hesitate to work on government projects) and the engineers who saw it were surprised by the comprehensive design, attention to detail and thoroughness of it. We were equally pleased by one particular engineer who would check and understand every design detail and would come back to us for clarification. I have not come across anyone who would take so much interest in landscape design and drawings. The project is ongoing and we hope it will come to fruition soon. What is your main source of inspiration and why? AK: Without doubt the poetics of water in Kashmir, its landscape and the warmth of the people. Though the people of Kashmir lost the plot somewhere in recent history, the warmth and hospitality is globally unmatched according to me. Maybe, I am biased - so be it! I love the land and the people. How was your experience working in Kashmir ? Do you have any experiences or stories you would like to share with us? AK: Food is an important part of life in Kashmir. Every time I go there, I bring back bags full of local vegetables and my friends who would fly back with me, would 48  POOL #41


landscape disown me in mock embarrassment! The first few times I went there, I would speak in English only and would always introduce myself by my first name. Later on, to everyone’s surprise, I would start discussing in Kashmiri. It was only then, they realized that I was one of them, who was born and brought up outside, but understands the language, culture and sensitivity of the people and their architecture and landscape. Do you incorporate cultural aspects while designing an environment/space? If yes, then how do you do that? AK: Cultural context and response is very important to us. Since we work all over India and sometimes abroad, we like to soak ourselves in the place and people, in their traditional architecture and regional landscape. So what we do in Bangalore is completely different from what we do in Jodhpur or Jaisalmer or

Kashmir. Our projects in the mountains of Uttarakhand are different from those on the hills of Sahyadri. Each place, each town, each site is unique to us and so are the people, soils, geology, plants materials, the craftspeople and their skills. So we work after a lot of research and local travel. For instance, we are recreating an Oak plantation on a housing site and stabilizing slopes with willows in Uttarakhand. In Dunagiri, Uttarakhand for the interiors, we worked with a lot with timber and local stone from the site itself. In Wada outside Mumbai we used stabilized mud and local gravel, in Bangalore we worked with mined lateritic rocks and local granite and in Jaisalmer – only with Jaisalmer stones in its varied forms. In Dharamshala, Kangra, we will be playing with waste from the mining of the slate, loose stone from the river bed, and waste from the building material cladding.

Scultures designed in stone for a private residence – inspired by Henry Moore www.poolmagazine.in  49


Design Drives Innovation.

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consistently brought to the market innovations in technology and design. Several of our designs have won awards, the most recent being the Steamon Vortex Flowmeter which has won the iDesign award for the Best Design in Capital Goods. To know more about what drives innovators at Forbes Marshall, write in to us at response@forbesmarshall.com .

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landscape (Top-Bottom) 1. Pashmina Scarves 2. Embroidery for a woollen shawl made in collaboration with Kashmiri Craftsperson 3. Aari work for a stole with Kashmiri Craftsperson

You have tried your hands on Kashmiri textile as well. Tell us about it. AK: Yes, I remember, when I was a very young boy I had an eye for textiles. I remember being told about my sense of appreciation by a shawlwala at a store in Kashmir when I particularly asked for one piece of shawl to be pulled out from a stack that was 10 feet away. Over the last few years, I have been helping in procuring textile for an NGO and this is when I realized I could do it for myself. So I work with a few people, collect from different sources, hold exhibitions and market it online. I select or design each piece myself and thankfully, people all over the globe have purchased from us. Any advice to the young architects? AK: We have only one life and we should try living it fully by doing what we want to do rather than what we have to do. There is only one thing - people should enjoy their life and realize that ‘work’ is an extension of life and not an end in itself. What’s the next big thing for AkshayKaul and Associates? AK: Going global and doing projects all over the world, beginning with South East Asia! aklandscape@gmail.com www.poolmagazine.in  51


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Funds and Shares, Mutual fits: Our Loan Against a bundle of bene swap them and come with the option to to `10 Crores you pledge with the securities se choo to Facility ** ired s when requ a real time basi eria) folio online on omer Portal (Exp Access your port through our Cust loan account Transact on your Return filing Tax me Inco Enjoy free more er v.in to know frames@bajajfins Write to us at

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shaping pottery

DREAMS

Raised and reared on Indian soil, potter Tinni Arora talks to POOL about taking up the rather uncustomary profession and being the first Indian apprentice at Leach Pottery, England. From studying B.A. In History to becoming a professional Clay Potter – yours seems to have been an interesting journey. Can you tell us how your love for clay pottery found its course? TA: Well, It was a journey involving many different creative fields. After earning a BA in History, I completed B.Sc in Fashion Design, Art from IIFT, majoring in Textiles and Design Concepts. My path by then wasn’t very defined, since I could not connect very well with a particular major. But then, in 2007, a friend introduced me to ‘Delhi Blue Pottery Trust’ where I completed a 6 month course, during which my love tryst with clay began. My passion turned into my profession after I was trained and groomed under the guidance of renowned potter and the best teacher I could have ever asked for – Ms. Rachna Parashar - who helped me refine my skills and improve my technique in a span of 2 years. Currently, I am in the process of continued learning, by apprenticing at Leach Pottery in England, which is an exciting phase in my career, especially since I am the first Indian to intern hear since its re-opening in 2008! Is there a particular style or approach that defines your work? TA: The approach is very clear- pottery has many dimensions and avenues and I want to explore as much as I can. I am yet to analyze and understand my own style. For me, experimentation with different styles works best at this 52  POOL #41


pottery and also towards what was in the past. This leads to great inspiration and expands your horizons greatly.

Wall platters inspired from tea pots

stage. Till now, this approach has been quite rewarding. In the past few years, I have tried my hand at utility wares, decorative products like vases, platters etc. finished with basic and experimental glazing. I have also found other techniques like wax resist, underglaze and sgraffito quite handy. What kind of research goes into your process? TA: Research plays a very important part along with creativity. They together act as a key to producing something different and unusual from what you usually would create, or would see around you. Research helps open your mind towards all that is happening in the world

How do you go about obtaining clay and glaze? Do you need to take safety precautions when mixing materials? TA: There are many different clay bodies available in the market with different manufacturers, which have variable maturing temperatures. These are easy to source. On the other hand, we can always get a new clay body made as per our own recipe, which can be expensive, if not for a bulk order. Working with various chemicals (and sometimes toxic materials) demands that we take necessary precautions. Wearing masks when working with dry material, putting on gloves and goggles depending on the nature of the task, are few important precautions to be taken. For instance, ingestion of ‘Silica’, which is the most basic material we use, can lead to Silicosis, but the threat can be avoided by simply using a suitable mask. Unfortunately, in India there are no laws implementing such rules, which is why most of us take these issues lightly. Here I would also like to iterate that while using different materials, it should be the potter’s prime responsibility towards society and nature to ensure www.poolmagazine.in  53


pottery

Kulhar inspired mugs with textured belly and specky glaze

that toxic waste is discarded responsibly so as to not pollute the water and soil around. A material like ‘lead’ should be completely avoided in raw form and in glazing. So ‘lead’ is a complete no-no, but apart from clay, what other materials and tools would you recommend? Do you have any favourites? TA: The best material after ‘clay’ would be Iron Oxide for me. It can produce marvelous results with variations in quantities. Iron Oxide can give you the palest of green-blue celedons through reduction and striking browns like khaki and tenmoku through oxidation. An added benefit is that its the most easily available mineral in our country.

along with the various everyday things I see around me. For shapes, I look up to Indian traditional terracotta for inspiration in ethnic shapes and forms. What is the very first project you remember crafting? TA: My first big project was crafted during participation in the PFA exhibition (Maneka Gandhi’s three-day exhibition for animal welfare). I was exhibiting wall platters then. On the first day itself, almost half of my work was sold! I also got to interact with many well-known potters of India. It was the first exhibition I participated in, and it was inspiring to get a very good response.

Regarding tools, if none of the fancy, expensive ones are available, bamboo works just as good for shaping, whereas, turned/twisted thin axe blades work well for turning and trimming a pot.

Pottery is considered a very ethnic art. What role does culture and tradition play in your work? TA: Indian traditional terracotta has always inspired me and that was the sole reason I got interested in pottery.

What is your source of inspiration? TA: For textures and decorations, nature is the prime source of inspiration,

There is always a lot to take from tradition- be it technique or shapes or simply the patterns and motifs you see

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design pottery mark

Tea pots - Miniature series

Wall platter with landscape effect

on architecture and textiles. Secondly, if you know your culture and tradition well, it will act as a very strong backbone when you meet artists from around the world. Irrespective of whether you are interested in your own history or not, this knowledge will help you realize its worth when faced with the interest and curiosity of others on your

travels abroad. For instance, here at Leach Pottery, there is an old martaban kept in the studio, which is used for keeping brushes and other tools. When I told my colleagues and my teacher that it is a pickle storage jar of India, they got really excited to know more! You see, a basic household matka or ghara or a martaban/ byaam has its own story and charm and it is exciting and inspiring for potters abroad, when I discuss and share my knowledge and tradition with them. This very knowledge becomes indispensable when I carry it with me miles away from home. You have taught ceramics to children through workshops in the past. Do you like teaching ceramics? TA: I have never taught ceramics as ‘wheel-work’, or the way I was teaching textiles and design concepts at a fashion www.poolmagazine.in  55


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56  POOL #41


pottery institute. My interaction with children was through the many workshops I held through NGOs, where I taught them hand-building. We would make flowers, fruits, vegetables etc. which would culminate into building wind chimes using these elements. Through these workshops, I realized that children are far more creative and far-sighted than adults, because their art replicates their innocence and good nature. Hence, so far, it is only with children that I enjoy working. Rocky effect textured white vase

Mother and child platter - marble effect

What would be your ‘top-tip’ for first timers delving into ceramics? TA: Patience, passion and dedication. Clay has a body, mind and soul - just like you. If you understand it, it will understand you and let you shape its body exactly the way your mind and soul wants. There is something we potters always say that is worth remembering - “clay has its own memory...” tinniarora18@yahoo.co.in www.poolmagazine.in  57


Get your pr POOL Maga e very fir st Experience th ainst Shares, Ag an online Lo d Insurance* an s Mutual Fund

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paper maker

Paper Caper

From banana waste to brilliant lights, paper-maker and lighting designer Jenny Pinto does her creative bit to push forth the cause of sustainability.

What brought about the switch from film-making to paper-making? JP: Film-making was a profession. I produced Television Commercials, which was a collaborative art. Eventually I got to a stage where I wanted to do something on a more individual basis, and singularly explore my creativity. Having been a filmmaker, I could not escape the lure of ‘light’ as an element, and after 17 years of film-making, in the year 1998, I finally made the shift to creating handmade paper lights. In due course of time, I also delved into creating a wider range of products, including hand-stiched books made from weaving paper onto handloom. Are you creating a new niche in crafts with new technologies and materials? JP: Whether anybody agrees or not, working with paper in itself is a niche, considering the very limited awareness regarding the material. But within this niche. I am pursuing the cause of getting people to consider and appreciate its strength and beauty when it comes to lighting. In my opinion and experience, light is at its best when teamed up with paper. That is quite a mission! Who all are part of your workforce while executing this mission? JP: My team consists of people who are especially good in handwork. There are Prasant and Ammu- who make the lights, Naseem-a weaver, Suresh- the paper lifter, Gopi- a very skilled 58  POOL #41


paper maker

‘ARCH’ – height 6 feet www.poolmagazine.in  59


paper maker

Ceiling light

carpenter, Venkatesh – a stone cutter and Mr. Radeesh Shetty, who markets my lights. Apart from Gopi and Venkatesh, all of them have been trained by me. The final product is quite delicate and entails a lot of detailing. How long does it take you to prepare a single handmade paper light? Can you talk us through the process? JP: The process differs with each design. We make paper the conventional way completely by hand. This process starts by cutting and cooking the banana fibre (the raw material preferred by me), then beating it to a pulp, followed by bleaching the pulp. After this, sheets are pressed and dried, getting us to a stage where there is a sheet of paper in front of us, ready to be crafted. Now starts the process of designing the lamp which may take upto a week. Depending on the design, the paper 60  POOL #41


paper maker is crushed, sculpted, embellished, or woven on a loom. It is then put on a frame which can be designed out of metal, wood or stone, thus giving the final shape to the handmade paper light. Is there a need to preserve the paper once it has taken its final sculptural form? JP: There is no need for any special preservation as such. Occasional dusting and a continued protection from dampness is enough to prolong the life of handmade paper. What kind of research goes into the art-form of handmade paper art? JP: There is not so much research as there is experimentation. Paper is a very strong, malleable material and there are unlimited possibilities attached to it. One just has to get ones hands on the vat and play Sometimes, even accidental results can end up finding recognition as great design! Considering the current pricing trends of ‘sustainable’ and ‘eco-friendly’ products, they are not considered affordable on a mass-scale. Comment. JP: When sustainability becomes the mainstream philosophy of living, these products will classify as affordable. Unfortunately the world’s economy is currently driven by an unsustainable engine. This has to change and the rest will fall into place.

Passion flower inspired light

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paper maker

Who forms your target consumer base? JP: Anyone with good taste! People who recognize the potency of this art form and appreciate it. What can we look forward to from the Jenny Pinto Lighting Design studio? What is the next big thing on the agenda? JP: Both ‘paper’ and ‘lighting’ are in their nascent forms in India, and need sustained efforts to promote and progress. There is so much more to explore as a paper-maker and a lighting designer. In effect, the ‘next big thing’ on the agenda is some more experimentation with paper and light, nothing else! pinto.jenny@gmail.com

www.poolmagazine.in  63


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(Participation is Free for selected Participants) ICSID 2014 InterDesign Mumbai 5th Feb through 19th Feb 2013 Welingkar Institute of Management (WeSchool) Mumbai Theme “Humanizing a Metropolis� An Immersive Real Life International Project-Cum-Workshop 2014 Icsid Interdesign is a hands on immersive real life project-cumworkshop to be held at WeSchool under the Aegis of the International Council of Societies for Industrial Design (ICSID) 40 designers from India and abroad will work together with local experts for an intensive two-week period. The participants will explore design issues of regional, national and global importance. Who can Participate Participant would ideally be a practicing industrial / Product / UX designer or other disciplines of design including architecture/space design. Participation is Free for selected Participants (ICSID InterDesign Jury will select the participants) Apply Now Down-load form : www.interdesignmumbai.com Mail the form to : registration@interdesignmumbai.com (you can attached detailed information/portfolio with form) Important Dates for participants Application deadline Notification to selected Participants

November 30,2013 Mid-December,2013

For more details : www.interdesignmumbai.com www.interdesignmumbai.com/CallForParticipation.html Media support www.indidesign.in

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

February 5-19 at Weschool,Mumbai, India

2014 Icsidinterdesign Mumbai

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Invitation to Designers

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