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Bijoy Jain Immediate Landscapes, 2018

FRONT COVER BIJOY JAIN, architect/artist Immediate Landscapes, 2018 –– Water n. A colourless, transparent, odourless, liquid which forms the seas, lakes, rivers and rain, and is the basis of the fluids of living organisms. Air n. The invisible gaseous substance surrounding the earth, a mixture mainly of oxygen and nitrogen. Light n. The natural agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible. –– Immediate Landscapes is a drawing of a water tank in a place where Jain spent much of his childhood playing. He says about his memory: “I grew up in Juhu, at a time when the area was dense with coconut trees. There was a private water tank nearby (it still exists), where we used to play. For our very first project in architecture school, we were asked to design a playground and I built that very water tank, barely knowing what I was doing. However, when I did build it, I felt sheer pleasure. I still remember every detail of making that artefact, as if it were tattooed in my mind.” Excerpt from Treading The Unfamiliar, an interview with Bijoy Jain, page 020

TREADING the UNFAMILIAR Interview bijoy jain

A gratifying milieu ahmedabad, gujarat SPASM Design

Contemporary traditions Golf links residence, new delhi kaaru

When objects tell a story Subodh Gupta


An immersive milan design week

salone del mobile, milan, italy sandeep khosla


16th venice ARCHITECTURE biennale, venice, italy sanjay puri

sanjib chatterjee • Richard Murphy • Kengo Kuma • Ashiesh Shah Studio Adreesh Chakraborty • Nishita Kamdar • CHYBIK+KRISTOF Architects • Mousarris Eberhard Mitterrutzner + Fratelli Reifer Custom • Agustina Bottoni • Gomaads Robert Van Embricqs • Studio Avni • Josmo Studio • Studiohaus • Andrea Stinga Vibhor Sogani Studio • DTours • Alex Davis • Aman Khanna • Ankon Mitra Gunjan Arora & Rahul Jain • Nitin Barchha + Disney Davis • Ania Jaworska Reshmi Dey • MIKE KELLEY • Reeta Gyamlani • Folkform • Pooja Talera Stapati • Oeuffice • Olafur Eliasson + Sebastian Behmann • Mukul Goyal

light for a new imagination...

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020 Bijoy Jain

Contents Issue #20 012 Editor’s Note 014 Contributors 020 Interview - Bijoy Jain Mrinalini Ghadiok and Amit Gupta in conversation with the architect about the influence of water and the affection of the hand.

Projects 032 OPINION: Sanjib Chatterjee The intersection of architecture and product. 036 Golf Links Residence, New Delhi Kaaru designs a contemporary home drench in traditional Indian idiosyncrasies and responding to fabled art. 044 House on Hart Street, Edinburgh, Scotland Richard Murphy’s home stands in homage to many inspirations, and offers a slew of architectural details in a tiny footprint. 052 House of Secret Gardens, Ahmedabad, Gujarat SPASM Design creates a home with a highly engaging environment, rendered with the finest architectural details. 062 Villa Borsani, Milan, Italy Sandeep Khosla recounts his visit to Osvaldo Borsani’s family home. 068 Fjord House, Vejle, Denmark Olafur Eliasson collaborates with Sebastian Behmann for his first architectural project. 074 MY DVA Furniture Showroom, Brno, Czech Republic CHYBIK+KRISTOF Architects rehabilitate Czech furniture company’s jaded showroom to drape its façade in its own products. 078 My First Pritzker Andrea Stinga sculpts wooden toys based on the works of past Pritzker Prize laureates to animate them into a playful video.

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118 Subodh Gupta

Contents Issue #20 Products 082 International Inspirations A collection of works by international designers who draw inspiration from architectural elements. ● Mousarris ● Folkform ● Eberhard Mitterrutzner & Fratelli Reifer Custom ● Oeuffice ● Agustina Bottoni ● Robert Van Embricqs 088 OPINION: Adreesh Chakraborty Why we make products the way we do now. 092 Inspired by Architecture Nishita Kamdar discusses the approach to designing architecture and product, referencing the works of Indian designers. ● Ashiesh Shah Studio ● Studiohaus ● Studio Avni ● Josmo Studio ● Gomaads ● Vibhor Sogani Studio 108 Chidori, East Japan Project, Japan Kengo Kuma collaborates with local craftsmen to design Chidori furniture as a revival affect after an earthquake in Japan. 112 DTours - Japan A design expedition to Japan to understand the evolution and relationship between design, art, and architecture.

Art & Interactive Media 117 Art X Design 118 Profile - Subodh Gupta Some of the artist’s most critically acclaimed projects use the readymade products as components of his artwork. 122 Material Matters Artists who make products - they are creators of objects that symbolise and materialise the intersection of their interests. ● Nitin Barchha & Disney Davis ● Ankon Mitra ● Aman Khanna ● Alex Davis ● Gunjan Arora & Rahul Jain ● Reshmi Dey 136 Profile - Thukral & Tagra The journey so far of the collective that refuses to be typecast. 142 A Glimpse - Mukul Goyal The designer recounts his journey and gives a glimpse into what it takes to design - product or art. 144 SET, Ania Jaworska An exhibition that renders a thrilling smorgasbord of experiences in defining a new vocabulary of furniture design.

Review 148 16th Venice Architecture Biennale, Sanjay Puri 154 Salone Del Mobile, Sandeep Khosla 166 NYC Design Week, Reeta Gyamlani 174 NYC Design Week, Seminar 178 Design Fabric Festival, Pooja Talera 182 Grohe NDTV Design & Architecture Awards Project of the Year: Kochi Biennale Pavilion, Stapati 186 Dialogues 18 Cinque, Hyderabad 190 TAVA, Tartu, Estonia 194 Event Calendar 198 mondo*moment: Mike Kelley, Los Angeles

* The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the various authors in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, viewpoints or official policies of mondo*arc india.


M r i n a l i n i G h a d i o k | editor This issue marks the 20th of our collection; is the first edition of our fourth year running, and celebrates among these milestones our profound interest in enquiry and observation with respect to design. This issue raises questions about the integrity of our understanding of architecture, the elements of its composition and the details of its construct. An immersive conversation with the dynamic architect and artist, Bijoy Jain, outlines his unique approach that seeks water, confides in celestial movements and relies on the affection of the hand, which unearths the intricacies of his ways. Jain’s words resonate in us further curiosity for deeper explorations.

Pic: Pravin Talan

Design: Architecture x Product x Art is derived from a long-standing debate on ‘When Architecture Teeters On The Edge Of Product Design and Products Reflect On Architecture’. Having raised the subject, we received some exciting responses, of which a few turned to discourse and others to discussions. Sanjib Chatterjee’s premise to define elemental comprehension of a ‘fragment’ with respect to its ‘whole’ sits across the room from Adreesh Chakraborty’s lucid account of history to describe the ‘the space between’. Nishita Kamdar, on the other hand, references her own built works along with those of other Indian designers (Ashiesh Shah, Avni Sejpal, StudioHaus and more) to showcase why and if at all the design of architecture and products can be symbiotic.

This is evident in Richard Murphy’s own home, a ‘box of tricks’ that challenges conventional architecture, as it is in this residence by Kaaru, addressing traditions rendered in contemporary components, and the sprawling bungalow by SPASM Design that offers an explicit concept in exquisite detailing. Each project delivers a unique experience of design in architecture as an assemblage of its constituents. Given that a ‘whole’ (often read as architecture) is a sum of its parts (in this case, products), it does not go to say that the latter cannot be derived from the former. We turn the theory on its head with examples of furniture that allude to a city skyline, glassware that is informed by an Italian villa and furniture that is drawn from the Greek orders, among others, of course. Also presented are fine glimpses of extraordinary international design, showcased at prominent events around the world. Sanjay Puri recounts his visit to the Venice Architecture Biennale, Sandeep Khosla lists his pickings from this year’s Salone Del Mobile in Milan and Rita Gyamlani gives us a peek into the ravishing NYC Design Week. While we pack a punch with all these recent innovations, we declare a new inning of our own. mondo*arc india|STIR now comes with a spanking new section dedicated to Art & Interactive Media, led by none other than ceramist and writer, Rahul Kumar. The inaugural segment includes the works of Subodh Gupta who uses the readymade to create the new, Thukral and Tagra who refuse to be typecast, and artists such as Material Immaterial, Ankon Mitra, Alex Davis and others who experiment with a plethora of materials to offer products that stand at the helm of being perceived as art. This issue, like many others, has been challenging and thrilling, but more importantly, has been a riot of pending celebrations and forging new friendships. There is a lot on the anvil, and we cannot wait to bring to you many new initiatives and exciting content. Mrinalini Ghadiok




Mrinalini Ghadiok Editor, mondo*arc india

Vrinda Bhageria Kewal Singh

Hardeep Gupta Amit Gupta

Paul James Editor, mondo*arc UK Consulting Editor (Art & Interactive Media) Rahul Kumar Editorial Consultant Devyani Jayakar Editorial Contributors Meghna Mehta Zohra Khan

Advertising Karan Gill

Commercial Dilip Shah


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Principal architect of Sanjay Puri Architects, Puri has been a speaker and juror at numerous international architecture events including the Leading European Architects Forum, World Architecture Festival and The Perspective PLAN events held across Europe. Founded in 1992, his firm has been heavily merited with Indian and international awards, many of which have not been won by any other design practice in the country. His firm has successfully completed more than 600 projects totaling 60 million+ square feet, with ongoing and completed projects in over 40 Indian cities, and having won projects in the U.S, Spain, Montenegro, Mauritius and the UAE. They continue their quest for creating sustainable design, charting new territories of spatial perception simultaneously imbibing the intrinsic values of Indian heritage and culture within their design solutions. In this issue: Puri reviews the newly opened Venice Architecture Biennale.

In 1991, Richard Murphy founded Richard Murphy Architects (Edinburgh) which has since won 22 RIBA Awards. Murphy is an acknowledged authority on the Italian Architect Carlo Scarpa, has written monographs on Castelvecchio (Verona) and Querini Stampalia (Venice) and presented a film for UK TV. A second edition of the Castelvecchio monograph was published in 2017. His practice was exhibited in the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, 2004 and two monographs have been published on his works. Murphy was conferred an OBE in the Queen’s Honours List 2007. He lives in a house designed by himself in the Edinburgh New Town World Heritage Site which was conferred the RIBA National Award and RIBA House of the Year Award in 2016. In this issue: Murphy takes us into his home in Edinburgh to show how architectural details are integrated to offer a seamless experience.

Sanjay Puri sanjay puri architects


Richard Murphy Richard Murphy Architects

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sandeep khosla khosla associates Sandeep Khosla is the Founder and Principal Architect of Khosla Associates, a leading Architecture and Interior Design firm based in Bangalore, that he established in 1995. The firm creates a versatile body of work ranging from architecture and interiors of residences and corporate offices to retail and hospitality spaces. It has won over 30 national and international awards including the Inside Outside Designer of the Year Award 2010, ‘Education’ Category winner at the WAF/INSIDE Festival 2013 in Singapore, and winner of the WAN ‘House of the Year 2017’ in London. Khosla has been a guest speaker at various international design conferences, a visiting critic at architecture schools in India, and a judge at the World Architecture Festival.  In this issue: Khosla recounts his trip to Milan to attend Salone Del Mobile, sharing his favourite picks of the fair as well as offers a glimpse from his visit to the Osvaldo Borsani’s family home.



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Sanjib Chatterjee kaaru Chatterjee is an architect, furniture maker, interior designer and creator of lights and design installations. An alumnus of SPA Delhi, after graduation, he honed his skills and design vision, first training in Fine Arts and later working with architect and urban designer, Prof. K.T. Ravindran for several years. Chatterjee has authored articles for several design magazines and journals and has presented his thoughts on contemporary design at important design events in India. 18 years ago with Anjalee Wakankar, he co-founded KAARU, a design studio based in Delhi. KAARU’s works, represented in India, UK and Japan, are considered unique in the realm of Indian contemporary design for its ability to bring modern technology, philosophical insights and creative processes which are innate in the Indian arts and crafts. In this issue: Chatterjee opines on the intersection between architecture and product, shedding light on the meaning and relevance of these two elements of design.

Talan is an internationally acclaimed fashion and lifestyle photographer who has worked worldwide with brands as diverse as Fashion TV and United Nations. He is better known for his series, Taj Mahal and Its Inspirations, India’s Men and Women in Uniform as well as many other projects creating centred on creating social impact such as, ‘A Day in the life of sex-worker’ for UNAIDS and ‘The Butterfly Dreams’. His work is widely regarded as creative, original and inspirational and has been featured in publications worldwide. A leading lifestyle magazine recently published a photo essay on his work titled ‘Women-in-uniform’, alluding to his immense work with the Indian defence services. Talan has photographed almost all Indian Defence and Central Armed Police Forces and many state police. In this issue: As part of the mondo*arc india|STIR team, Talan visited Bijoy Jain’s studio and captured in his lens the moods and words of the architect.

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Reeta Gyamlani farrago design Gyamlani is the founder and principal designer of New York based Farrago Design offering high-end design services and heirloom quality home décor. Since its launch in 2003, she has been known for her singular vision, embodying an elegant fusion of Eastern and Western sensibilities and aesthetics. Hailing from Mumbai, she did her B.A. in Economics from Jai Hind College and Interior Design from Raheja School of Architecture and later Masters in Furniture Design and Design Management from the Pratt Institute in New York. Gyamlani curates rich, refined interiors thoughtfully layered with imaginative details and sumptuous furnishings celebrating diverse cultures, periods and styles. Her work has been showcased in galleries and showrooms in major cities around the globe and featured in leading national and international publications. In this issue: Gyamlani makes notes of recent trends and favourite picks at the NYC Design Week.

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Adreesh Chakraborty the earth home Chakraborty is an architect, interior designer, product and furniture designer. After a decade of practice, he went on to create The Earth Home in 2016 with his partner, Eena Basur - an acclaimed visual, brand and product designer and an international speaker. The Earth Home today provides architecture and interior design services, communication and brand design, and has its own line of products and furniture. In this issue: Chakraborty raises pertinent questions as to why we design the way we do today, referencing his discourse on the evolution of product design.



P 068, 074 Devanshi Shah

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Nishita Kamdar studio nishita kamdar Recipient of the prestigious Charles Correa Gold Medal for Design Dissertation in 2013 for her thesis ‘The Eyes of The Skin’, Kamdar graduated from the Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute for Architecture and Environmental Studies and went on to found her eponymous studio in Mumbai. The prime focus of her work involves designing spaces that are comfortable, utilitarian and minimalist. A keen sense to respond to the local climate and use a natural material palette keeps her innovating. The overarching design philosophy of Studio Nishita Kamdar is that architecture should not only look beautiful but also feel beautiful. In this issue: Kamdar discusses the approach and process of creating objects, spaces, experiences and opportunities, illustrating her thoughts through the works of 5 Indian designers.

Shah is an architect and writer with a Masters degree in History and Critical Thinking from the Architectural Association, London and a Bachelor’s in Architecture from Mumbai. In 2016, she was a designer and artist-in-residence at The Utopia School, Copenhagen. Shah facilitated classes and working groups on architecture around the theme of Utopia built or imagined. She often writes for various design and architectural publications and has authored a mini-zine, in collaboration with the School for the ALT CHP art festival. In 2017, she was a resident at the Story of Space, Goa. In this issue: Shah discovers the finer nuances of artist OIafur Eliasson’s first architectural project. In another story, she dissects the layers of a furniture showroom that uses self-made products to clad its façade.

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Mridu Sahai dtours india Mridu Sahai is an interdisciplinary designer from NIFT New Delhi, with a Masters degree in Fashion from the University for the Creative Arts, UK. Her interests are driven by cross cultural interactions, architecture, product design, travel and writing. Sahai has co-authored the book, Architecture and Attitude, contributed to various design magazines and has been the editor of studio archohm’s in-house newsletter called the Archometer. She has also been instrumental in setting up The Design Village. Author of numerous papers and articles, her research interests includes speculating various faculties from the realm of art, architecture and design by drawing comparisons, finding resemblances, questioning differences and excavating relationships between roles and associations of entities. In this issue: As the curator and anchor of Dtours India, Sahai takes us on a trip through Japan exploring its captivating design, art and architecture.

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Pooja Talera Kosa wellbeing Talera is the founder of KOSA Wellbeing, a platform for skin health, wellness and lifestyle that addresses the notion of beauty in India. An Aesthetic Dermatologist by profession, she often looks to the arts for references and inspiration in her work. A design, food and fashion enthusiast, she regularly writes for various publications. She is also a patron of the arts who works through her family’s Evolving Culture Foundation to support the works of the creative community, which she feels will hugely impact culture. Having been a part of the Ministry in Singapore, she continues to participate in international dialogue on culture and policy through the CII-Young Indians. In this issue: Talera shares insights from the recently held Design Fabric Festival.



Pics: Pravin Talan



While it is rather easy to find references to Studio Mumbai’s works on the world-wide-web, it is an incredulous network of intricate inquiries, observations and practices that enable these manifestations as art or architecture. Bijoy Jain offers a glimpse into his boundless curiosity to delve into the obscure; in conversation with Mrinalini Ghadiok of mondo*arc india|STIR.



Saat Rasta, Mumbai, Maharashtra Sketches/Drawings: Courtesy of Studio Mumbai Architects

Water. The elixir of life. Water. The essence of existence. Water. The cardinal resource. Water. The most compelling, trenchant and acquiescent medium of state, expression and being. Albeit an architect, Jain is an artist; also in the literal sense, but more interestingly, the kind who can weave ideas, paint thoughts, compose tales and construct apparitions. His works have stamped confirmed impressions in the minds of many and I state that determinedly, for I, and my accompanying colleagues have observed, followed and carefully studied many such illustrations. However, this is the first visit to Jain’s studio for Amit Gupta (Director, STIR), Meghna Mehta (Editorial Contributor, mondo*arc india|STIR), Praveen Talan (renowned photographer) and myself.

Pic: Mitul Desai


Saat Rasta, Mumbai, Maharashtra Pic: Srijaya Anumolu

Saat Rasta, Mumbai, Maharashtra Pic: Srijaya Anumolu

Saat Rasta, Mumbai, Maharashtra Pic: Giovanni Hänninen

Monsoon has hit Mumbai, and while I belong to the lot that is not very fond of the rains, I cannot but admit that the city is different – grey but vivid, chaotic but calm, unapologetic but energised. We make our way through the notorious concrete jungle negotiating, as well-warned, swarms of cars, to an unassuming street. Situated in a large wall is an equally diffident door. We cross the threshold and instantly a silent gasp catches us all as we grab a moment to take in what lies before us - a verdant pathway flanked on either side by generously carved abodes, leading straight towards a courtyard. Framed perfectly, a ravishing Champa tree caught in the gentle afternoon drizzle gleams in the distance, patiently awaiting our arrival. Strapped to three sides of the courtyard on two levels are workspaces occupied by busy craftsmen, large and small installations, sculptures in myriad shapes and forms, prototypes, material samples, and even a lime tank. This is Studio Mumbai. This is the hearth from where many iconic works of contemporary Indian architecture, art and craft have emerged. And this is where we meet Bijoy Jain. A strapping figure in blue linen greets us with a steady baritone. Finding place before the forenamed Champa we embark on a journey – an erudite conversation spotted with contemplation and spangled with rumination. “My curiosity of what interests me drives me to do something new every day; to consciously engage in an activity, be it music, reading or anything else that I have little idea of what expression it might have,” offers Jain. This exploration of the unfamiliar is his way to discover his own capacity, and also what he inclines his work towards. “My professional training is in architecture, but that is just a conduit for me to communicate something. We communicate through space and we understand space through our five senses, which further become the mechanisms of communication. This is intuitive thought.” His work is not limited to space. Veering away from the term ‘office’, Jain refers to it as ‘practice’, suggesting the nature of the studio, and more so, the profession as rooted in a service, of course with an economy and an active exchange of economies; but not a business. His practice is the kind to question, analyse, organise and experience, alluding instead to ‘riyaz’.



“Culturally, when you think of people living in an agrarian landscape, which is most of our country (even now with the economic explosion we still have more in the agrarian than the industrial), you will see that most people tend to their own fields, are out all day, and when daylight wanes, they return home. The house is for refuge. Due to the fact that there is a scarcity of electricity, their work depends on daily and seasonal cycles. The sun and moon are paramount.”

Leti 360 Resort, Uttarakhand

Leti 360 Resort, Uttarakhand Pic: Courtesy of Studio Mumbai Architects

Leti 360 Resort, Uttarakhand Pic: Courtesy of Studio Mumbai Architects

On this mention, he recalls a brief meeting with the revered architect, Geoffrey Bawa in Sri Lanka in 1996. Having been invited for tea to Lunuganga, Jain paused at the entrance to Bawa’s house and looked through the porch at the trees in the distance. “What was of interest to Bawa was that there was too much architecture between him and the view.” Identifying the critical factor as not the landscape or the architecture, but the moment, he adds, “You become the medium of a conversation between the interior and exterior, and architecture becomes one of ethos as opposed to how we are conditioned to view it. Bawa acknowledged the fact that life lived in the tropics was not solely about the interiors but the exterior was as important, if not more.” Reflecting on the premise of architecture in India, we discuss that it is an act of creating a shelter; something that one recedes into. “Architecture is shaped by its culture

and carries the capacity to represent this culture; similar to wearing a beautiful sari or dhoti,” says Jain. It is indeed a reflection of our time, which is evident in the process of its making and where it lies. A valued lesson was learnt while building in the Himalayas. Studio Mumbai had to schedule the construction of their project as per the working cycles of native farmers, to accommodate their farming practices and facilitate preserving their own homes when not occupied. “That is when I started to adjust our methods and began to tune my work to these factors. Observe carefully – many people migrate back to their homes during the monsoons or for the festive season. This is when they take a break from earning livelihoods and return to their landscapes. Having served their personal space, they come back to tend to their work. Therefore, this becomes the favoured time to build, from November till just before Holi,” claims Jain.

Leti 360 Resort, Uttarakhand Pic: Courtesy of Studio Mumbai Architects


Pic: Mitul Desai

“Water is the keystone of our existence; we are made up of nearly 60% water. All civilisations have been built on aqueous footings, and life has always revolved around water, which is the most elemental resource that we require. Even our movement and emotional flux are affected by the gravitational pull between the sun and moon, leaving us fundamentally triangulated in that relationship.”

Pic: Mitul Desai

He may work on his own clock, but he definitely does deliver the most spectacular works, and we are curious to find out what it is that really sets him apart. Albeit an architect, Jain’s explorations take him beyond the realm of the built construct to the practice of art. And we cannot help but wonder how the boundless curiosity to delve into the obscure informs his work. “I grew up in Juhu, at a time when the area was dense with coconut trees. There was a private water tank nearby (it still exists), where we used to play. For our very first project in architecture school, we were asked to design a playground and I built that very water tank, barely knowing what I was doing. However,

when I did build it, I felt sheer pleasure. I still remember every detail of making that artefact, as if it were tattooed in my mind.” Jain prompts us to take note that the first project designed by most architects is seminal to their practices. I cannot help but agree. If there was one work I would single out from the five years of formal architectural education I received, It would have to be the very first – a tiny residence located off the New York Highline! Gupta and I ask in unison, “What is the relevance of this water tank in your work?” to which Jain responds discernibly, “For me, work begins with the origin of water – by its presence or absence, its existence is a must.”

Jain is native to the sea-embracing city of Mumbai and to me, this is a critical factor for his affinity to water. He insists that is just happenchance, but does credit the fact that he was a ‘caesarean baby’ and had to be ‘pulled out’. “Maybe I was drowning,” he says. “I have always been comfortable with water, and am definitely more receptive to recognising this medium as a primary presence. Water is that connection to something that goes much deeper below our feet, without which there is nothing. In its absence, it becomes a provocation. Its search then allows me to anticipate possibilities and engage with it,” says Jain.



National Assembly, Dhaka, Bangladesh by Louis I Kahn Pic: Raymond Meier

Before explaining further about his own tryst with the liquid state of matter, Jain draws our attention to the works of Louis Kahn, known to the world as the ‘master of light’. Jain refers to the National Assembly building in Dhaka as Kahn’s seminal work and paints fascinating imagery of its construction, careful to mention it as a personal theory. On a recent trip to Dhaka, Jain visited the distinguished site. Like most architects, he was familiar with the building’s plans, sections, drawings and images, but walking around the complex, he found moments when the design would just give away and become indecipherable. “I noticed that everywhere I looked, every detail I noticed, be it the handrail or the expansion joint, there was nothing in that magnitude, the largeness of that sheer physical scale, that

Section Tara House,Kashid, Maharashtra

Kahn had not touched. He was acutely aware of the presence of every micron in that space,” describes Jain. However, heading to the top of the Parliament building he began to notice that things were different. Kahn died before the project was complete and the roof of the main assembly hall was pieced together from sketches that were left in his tread. Jain’s inquiry into the affixing of this piece props up another fascinating question: How does one close something from the place it has been entered? Sitting for dinner at a fellow architect’s studio, Jain looked out of the window and saw the Parliament building sitting atop a hill. It was a moment of revelation as he asked himself, “What is the material that made that project?”

“It was not brick or concrete. It was water.” “The work is not an assembly of beams and columns, it is an extrusion, a subtraction – a massive block of concrete meant to mimic stone that has been laid with a marble grid over it on an X and Y plane.” “How do you measure something that is immeasurable?” “You apply a grid.” Jain’s description is vivid and captivating, defining the project as sitting on top of a rock in the midst of a flood. “What you see resting as the water, for me, is the settling of the (Gangetic) floodplain.” The hypothesis has Kahn entering the project from above, using the water to excavate and cut through the rock. The grid becomes a measuring system allowing Kahn to navigate inside as he hollows through the spaces within. This supports


the idea that water came in from above and touched everything. “It is about the capacity of our consciousness, to be able to transfer ourselves into an energy field. This is where Kahn was resonating from - the riyaz of anticipation, whatever that might be.”

Palmyra House, Nandgaon, Maharashtra

Palmyra House, Nandgaon, Maharashtra Pic: Hélène Binet

Tara House, Kashid, Maharashtra Pic: Courtesy of Studio Mumbai Architects

There are a number of works by Jain that can be termed as important milestones in his journey. Of those that have piqued my curiosity, the Tara House and Palmyra House seize the top of the list. “The Tara House is about the water tank and everything else is ancillary,” he declares casually. Dug deep into the ground, the fulcrum of the project is subterranean. The tank holds the ground’s sweet water, which is pushed up when the tide comes in, salt water being heavier, or when the monsoon pours down. Thus, the water level alters with changing cycles of nature. The Palmyra House, on the other hand, is the product of a writer’s block, and almost autobiographical. Located in Alibaug, the site was dotted with existing wells and aqueducts used to water the plantations. All their plinths were kept intact and those that had fallen were resuscitated. Thus, the infrastructure was already present. “The timber frame,” claims Jain, “is only an overlay that can collapse at any time, leaving the agrarian landscape unscathed.” Carefully positioning itself amidst a grove, the house straddles a water body, splitting the functions into two structures. “The exterior is the main part of the house, where you can take refuge,” he presents; but the middle also offers asylum, “At one point when I get to the edge of the water, that is the moment when there is nothing between me and the view.”

Tara House, Kashid, Maharashtra Pic: Hélène Binet



Pics: Pravin Talan

“Why is the hand an important tool in how we make things? I have come to recognise this as a means for communications. It was the hand that drew us out of the womb. It was through the hand that we first communicated, in an action of affection.”

Losing sight of the physical context can offer relief, but can one truly disengage from the assertions that surround them? Do we de-contextualize ourselves to attain universality or do we become ambiguous in our working? Some of the current works at the studio are outside the boundaries of Jain’s own continent. “We are working on a project in Japan and another in France and nothing has changed from the way we work here. The process remains the same, only the framework that governs it varies. Maintaining the spirit of the core intact, components around it are readjusted to

enable a space within, like a cradle. By going to the source, one is automatically in and out of context, both,” explains Jain. “Context is not geographical, it has to be one of interconnected energies,” he adds. Referencing an 84-year old man that he works with closely, Jain describes a gripping relationship between material, craft and the craftsman. Like the daily ritual of lighting a lamp, this man begins his day with a piece of stone and can create any imaginable artefact. “When he marks the stone, he knows its potential, and at the same time, the stone communicates to him what its potential can be. There is a mutual

exchange of affection.” Pointing towards a multitude of stone sculptures that dot the courtyard, he says, “It is not true that we are losing our craft, it is fundamentally inherent in us; we have just become lazy (about affection).” We discuss how eventually it is not about the skill or precision with which something is made, but rather the manner of how it is made. A bamboo weaver stretches and rolls dried reed into fine threads behind us. Winding yarn around his hand, he prepares to string a stool. Others stain long pieces of bamboo with natural indigo dye. These components will come together to make


“It is not true that we are losing our craft, it is fundamentally inherent in us; we have just become lazy (about affection).”

stools for the project in Japan. We see a sample that has been readied – the workmanship is beyond impeccable, each element laid over the other in a delicate choreography of layers. Made entirely by hand, the stool is a direct representation of our capacities, but more so, illustrative of the role of the hand in creating these elements. “Why is the hand an important tool in how we make things?” Jain responds to his own rhetoric, “I have come to recognise this as a means for communications. It was the hand that drew us out of the womb. It was through the hand that we first communicated, in an action of affection.” Conveying this emotion from the bearer to the product translates to energy. Citing the example of carpenters in Rajasthan,

Jain recalls stories that he would often hear of drought-hit lands. “The severity of the conditions and the paucity of resources would drive these carpenters to use paper mache, clay, cotton rags and various other mixtures to copy that one single copper vessel in the village. The prevalent situation would compel them to contract and expand ideas that would lead to innovation and creation.” Jain adds, “The motivation for the product was not the product itself.” On the other hand, today, the availability and accessibility to products that feed our requirements are immense. While this may dilute the motivation to innovate in how one does at times of desperation, it is also a time when one can complement the other and thus, coexist.



“I have always been comfortable with water, and am definitely more receptive to recognising this medium as a primary presence. Water is that connection to something that goes much deeper below our feet, without which there is nothing. In its absence, it becomes a provocation. Its search then allows me to anticipate possibilities and engage with it,”

Ganga Maki Textile Studio, Dehradun, Uttarakhand Pic: Srijaya Anumolu

Copper House, Chondi, Maharashtra Pic: Mitul Desai

Ganga Maki Textile Studio, Dehradun, Uttarakhand Pic: Giovanni Hänninen

Copper House, Chondi, Maharashtra Pic: Hélène Binet

“When I look at what I built 10 years ago, it is difficult to build like that again. It is done and one has to move on.” Having said that, Jain often references historical instances of building. What strikes interesting is not the material or process with which they are built, but the source of the story that they weave. He talks of Fatehpur Sikri and its tribute to life in death, not by analysing its geometry, but by peeling the skin to reveal the dire need for Akbar to build this mausoleum. “Imagine yourself as Akbar; as someone who perceives himself to be next only to god. This invincible figure was conquered by the death of his sons, a loss unfathomable.” Jain goes on to explain Akbar’s meeting with Salim Chishti, “Chishti was like

Akbar’s modern-day shrink. He provoked his mind, and it is the dialogue between them that led the emperor on a journey of reflection. Fatehpur Sikri was a device of this rumination, as was the Akbarnama, in which Akbar melded two disparate religions into a single text.” “I postulate what could have occurred. Besides the tangible factors such as plans, elevations, mathematics or geometries, these stories become an additional mechanism to look at things that help me to decipher the archaeology, context and relevance of a place,” says Jain. Akbar’s path is illustrative of our discussion. “We have to have the will to conceive of a place. For us to do the work our ancestors did, we have to work with the same


imagination, surpassing the tangible to recognise the intangible and think bigger than our human sense. It is then that we can amalgamate differences.” This draws us back to our earlier conversation – the core needs to remain intact, while we revolve our work around it. “We can build as well as Fatehpur Sikri has been built. It is still very much available to us,” says Jain. “Why don’t we do more of it then?” I ask, and the response is rather spontaneous, “The will to imagine is greater than imagination itself.” Silence finds its place and we all nod. We are products of the industrial world, and there is no denying that. Even Jain accepts it with a full heart, but he encourages us

to question ourselves as to what it means to be a part of it and how it has shaped or influenced us. As we walk around the studio, it is as exhilarating to see the work of the hand, as it is overwhelming to realise its fading. However, it enables us to sense the affection with which articles are made, appreciate the sensibilities with which they are conceived and perhaps now understand the intuition that drives these forces. Many trains have passed the nearby station, the rain has come and gone and come again, the sky has darkened and the birds have withdrawn to their nests. The day comes to a close, as does this conversation, for now, for there are many thoughts and much energy yet to be exchanged.

Pic: Courtesy of Studio Mumbai Architects


opinion / Sanjib Chatterjee


PERHAPS A PRODUCT OF OUR BEING Sanjib Chatterjee Pic: Courtesy of Kaaru

Mrinalini Ghadiok, editor of mondo*arc india|STIR in conversation with Sanjib Chatterjee, Co-founder and Head of Design, Kaaru.

As an architect, I have had many moments of doubt with respect to what was being designed or built. I often challenged what I saw on paper, even though it might have been a result of my own enquiries. I have questioned the norms as well as the unconventional, and I have tested the waters to desperately find answers to the many whys, hows, whats and wheres. When addressing the idea of ‘Architecture’ with reference to ‘Products’ or the intersection of one with the other, there were many more queries that arose. While I may not always get the answers I search or the clarity I seek, it is through conversations that ideas are cemented, uprooted or even fragmented. I speak with architect, designer, visualiser, thinker, challenger, Sanjib Chatterjee – who sheds light on some thoughts and redirects others towards a whole new universe.

Ghadiok: When architecture teeters on the edge of product design & products reflect on architecture. Chatterjee: (Disclaimer) These are few thoughts, which I have attempted to articulate in response to your provoking queries. Considering my own ignorance about this Universe added with the fact that this is an endless area of study, contemplation and realization are only allusive, meagre and partial derivatives of the vast wisdom base that exists in India. These thoughts form only a tiny part of what I have heard and received from my teachers and people of sterling insights. Ghadiok: When we look at something minutely, in detail, close enough to be able to deconstruct or fragment it, or when we

move away to see these small elements as parts of a larger entity, components that comprise a whole, is when we begin to identify with them as ‘fragment’ or ‘whole’. It all depends on the scale of our perception. Or does it? Chatterjee: Dependent Origination and Relative Reality Your queries lead us towards one of the most profound truths of dependent origination pointed by Shakyamuni Buddha, two and half millennia ago. The essence of it summarizes as, ‘all manifest or imaginable phenomenon that we perceive within our body or around it, originates dependently from other parts’. Therefore, they also hold a potential to fall apart anytime and are impermanent. In common circumstances, this is not apparent to us, due to a certain distance that our senses maintain from the objects.

The Role Of Space Between The Perceiver And The Perceived This distance screens the fragments during the infinitesimal moments of our perception and paradoxically, makes our daily functions possible. Our intense habitual familiarity with this, very loosely, becomes Relative Reality or the Conventional Truth. We normally do not think while shaking the hand of a person, of its subcutaneous fatty tissues, blood vessels, cells, protons and neutrons. Reversely, while looking at the Himalayas, we usually do not think of its demeanour as part of the Milky Way and the countless trillions of galaxies hovering over us. We, in a blink, believe that we are actually shaking his or her hand, and the mountain stretched in front of us is truly vast. This is Relative Sanity or Maintained Delusion at work. This Maintained Delusion, due to the ‘scale of our perception’, also pervades into architecture and product design.





Willow Viiew, A - 154, New Manglapuri, Mehrauli Gurgaon Road, Sultanpur, New Delhi 09818508585, 09310824102,



opinion / Sanjib Chatterjee

Ghadiok: Design is composed of a series of these elements that one may term, in their individual state, a product; and once assembled into a larger construct, perhaps architecture. Do details form constructs? Do elements make components? Do compositions become architecture? What does architecture assimilate, and what does it entail?

Visual: Courtesy of Kaaru

Illustration of ancient Jain iconography, Jain Tirthankara (realized teacher), traditionally used as a standing metal profile. It points towards the non dual nature of all phenomenons. What we perceive as solidly existing forms, is actually empty of that perception, due to dependant origination of the five elements.

Chatterjee: The film, ‘Powers of 10’, by Eames Two and a half millennia after Shakyamuni, in a totally unrelated and not so well known incident, in 1977, two short films, ‘The Powers of 10’ by architects, Charles and Ray Eames, summoned our attention towards the relative sizes of things in the universe. In the film the virtual eye of the camera simply moves in and out of the body in two different directions, one showing depths of increasingly tinier body parts, and the other moving outwards towards deeper mega fragments of the outer world, in different scales of space and time. Incredibly, both movements, in opposite directions, after a point of time, seem to lead us to one common element, just vast space. So where does this lead to? The Five Elements- four of Form and the fifth as Space As forms, my own human body and all physical phenomena that envelopes it, manifest due to five essential core materials, Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space. Even these elements are dismantlable into unfathomably tinier subparts when we begin to move closer towards them applying the analogy of Eames’ ‘Powers of 10’. What I think as form, is actually embodied space, the fifth element. It is, however, perceived by our delusion as Earth, Water, Fire and Air. Form, metaphorically, would never acknowledge this; because by doing so, it loses its established perch as an ‘entity’, objectively and independently existing. This is how all conventional labels are established. This ‘non-acknowledgement’ includes ‘ego’ and ‘architecture’. This leads to all forms being projections of the ‘ego’ and not of space or the ‘silence’ within that.

Seeing The Unseen - No Duality Between Architecture And Product Design Within this context of reality, architecture and product design emerge as facets of one single symphony. As parts of the same symphony, they are distinguished only by their individual inherent gaps of fragments, which the designer/architect controls and conducts, using their sense of Relative Sanity. One facet might have gaps collapsing completely and coalescing in a distinct resonating musical note; the other, in a profusion of ecstatic expansions, have space rushing in from all available openings, which the architect has relented. The former would be labelled as a product or furniture, the later, as architecture. So, the answer to your question, “whether compositions become architecture”, in this sense - yes, they do. From Design to Awareness - Form is Space In an epic paradox of the visual, in spite of knowing about dependent origination, I would still continue to label what I see, as a whole, without fragments and independently existing forms due to my habitual patterns. However, time-to-time, if the perception actually slips towards dependent origination, even for a few seconds, the dualities between forms, architecture and product, inner space and outer space, will begin to dissolve. Designing, irrespective of whatever inspiring forms I can conjure, would then become an aware experience of knowing that I cannot, ever, intrude into space. I can only see reflections of my own delusions as its premises, peripheries, walls, roofs, thresholds, and elements of earth, water, fire and air. That is all I can do. The process of Architecture or Design, then, might not remain only an entanglement with the form any more, but lead to an awareness of space, a deep tranquillity, within and without. Since I realize that I am a collection of ‘perceived fragments’ of space, I can only pine for a transparency between me and space to grow, so that, one day if I am 87, perhaps the fragments will not be visible as distinct any more, but remain in a flux not only in the designs but also within me, as a human being.


project / Golf Links Residence, New Delhi

Front Landscape Pic: Amit Pasricha

contemporary traditions While catering to a brief entrenched in the idiosyncrasies of Indian tradition, ancient mythology and fabled art, Kaaru delivers a design that is astute, an aesthetic that is contemporary, a space that is receptive and an experience that is ethereal. Architect Sanjib Chatterjee discusses the mind behind the matter with Mrinalini Ghadiok of mondo*arc india|STIR.


Design is laden with dichotomies; choices that often compel us to pause in our tracks of comfort and think – think about the ‘whatifs’, weigh the options, and measure the alternatives. The duality of design is often evident in moments of either uncertainty or extreme confidence, further paving way for all sorts of paradoxes. This New Delhi residence located in the very up-market locality of Golf Links was a canvas painted with such paradoxes – of ambiguities arising from inevitable realities, and affirmations born of distinguished beliefs. The clients’ recent visit to the Kaladham Art and Cultural Centre in Bellary, Karnataka had left them particularly impressed, their memory imprinted with the motif and situation of a specific screen there. The search thus began for the designers who would transform their personal home, from what was a conventional and traditional

dwelling, to their aspiration of a subliminal but contemporary experience. It is essential to note that Kaaru was specifically commissioned to design a solitary screen for the residence, commemorating the encounter had in Bellary. Sanjib Chatterjee, co-founder and Head of Design shares, “Who knew that the strength of one element could be so strong that someone would want to connect through that product to a completely unrelated project. On the other hand, there was no question for us; Kaaru sees no barriers and we were confident that we could bring this particular element seen in an architectural project and make it integral to an interior design project.” Hence began the metamorphosis. The house was an existing building and there were no interventions with respect to the interior structure, walls, apertures or spatial zoning. The clients, widely travelled, well

exposed and assured of their direction paved a well-carved path for their requirements. Devout Radha-bhakts (worshippers), not only their spiritual living but even their physical environment was to be regarded as sacred. Kaaru’s approach, thus, was defined by Chatterjee as, “Creating imageries to facilitate their devotion through our design.” Beginning with a single screen, many conversations between the client and designers led to revelations and the further discovery of new ideas and possibilities. Before long, Kaaru was working on a complete transformation of the interior journey. This was achieved by striking a very delicate harmony between the inherited, conservative architecture and proposed innovative ideas for its refurbishment. The design needed to address the familiar, but offer excitement; it had to steer away from what had already been seen, and present


project / Golf Links Residence, New Delhi

Fish Panel Sketch: Sanjib Chatterjee

Pic: Amit Pasricha

something new. The brief also restricted the design in its response by requesting to build ideas around a collection of contemporary paintings by renowned artist, Laxma Goud. Received as gifts to the client’s family, the epochal images of Radha-Krishna and Rama-Sita became critical points of focus. Chatterjee explains, “At the time of embarking on the project, the (three) artworks had already found their final places on the walls of the home. Kaaru chose to weave a design narrative which would take these unusual ‘iconographic artworks’ into account deriving important cues and beliefs ensconced in them.” The architects visualised a broad palette of components as almost being extracted from the paintings. Splashes of colour transformed into textures and finishes, brush strokes evolved into physical formations,

Pic: Amit Pasricha

the ethereal sense of light, sound and touch came alive as myriad design gestures, melding into a composition of space. “Three main theme areas, the arrival lobby, the main living and the main dining, were chosen to hold three bold narratives, including two on Radha and Krishna’s courtship and the third on Sita and Rama’s marriage, and related them to the depictions of the adjacent interior and exterior spaces, including two gardens in the front and one in the rear.” Given the piecemeal approach to the design of the house, attending to one element after another, the space was not built as a ‘whole’, which contained a series of ‘parts’, but instead blossomed into a choreography of components that led from one to another, coming together to form an integrated and invigorating experience.

The main gates of the property part to reveal a sinuous driveway that holds in its embrace an adorned court. Setting the stage for a journey of visual delight, Kaaru took utmost care to deliver the most delicate details from the meticulously configured paving to the robust stone sculptures that seem to float effortlessly on the surface of the placid water body; even the filigreed suspended lamps sandwiched between stone fins embody the serenity and stillness of what lays ahead. The large hand-carved Sandstone screen ruptured with the graphic of billowing waves veils a private indoor swimming pool from the public entrance. While daylight filters through its undulating perforations casting patterns on the water within, at night, the solidity of the stone transforms into a curling pattern as light washes across its surface.


Moving towards the main door, one is greeted by an unusual tale. “The entrance of the house begins with a visualization of the ‘Creation of the Universe’ on the door. Believed to be Lord Vishnu’s avatar, the famous fish guided and saved all of humankind, along with its originator, the Sage named ‘Manu’, on a boat through the great deluge,” explains Chatterjee. This intricate rendition of Noah’s Ark painted on one panel and sculpted into solid pieces of stone on the other, welcome one into the lobby to be faced with the pièce de résistance. Draped in the blue of the night sky, Krishna takes centre stage. The imposing painting of the Lord, Radha and numerable Gopis by Goud is the kernel from where emerges the intense Prussian energy and sprawls across

what was once a bare wall. It is now dressed in a deep sea of thousands of tiny exquisite pieces of Lapis stone, symbolic of Lord Krishna’s infinite presence. The mainframe of the painting is expanded onto the landscape of infinity taking the form of rolling hills, rising clouds and grazing cows, drawn in pristine lines of glistening mother-of-pearl. The dense leafage of the trees extends beyond the canvas onto the ceiling to form an umbrella of hand-crafted lights. “The ceiling lights emerged as an idea to evoke a feeling of being under the canopy of a Kadambh tree, believed to be a favourite of Lord Krishna. The foliage pattern is an amalgamation of two contrasting yet resonating ideas. One is about sensitively capturing the subtle beauty of a Kaim/ Kadambh tree being witness to the mythical

love between Radha and Krishna. The other references the same pattern simultaneously functioning as an effective diffuser for the radiating source of light,” offers Chatterjee. Having done detailed studies of the foliage pattern, sketches were translated into full-scale drawings spanning 12 feet, which were then worked on by artists. “In an unseen reflection of deep love between the two most revered figures of Indian mythology, the design had to carry that intensity, as well as perform successfully in its technical role.”It took over 45 days of hand embroidery and appliqué on three layers of cotton fabric that was specially hand woven in Benaras to construct these pieces of art. A team of traditional master textile artists worked to create the foliage with its radiating branches interwoven with

Pic: Amit Pasricha


3 1



4 1. Drive In 2. Reception 3. Living 4. Dining 5. Bedroom 6. Swimming Pool Ground Floor Plan Drawing: Courtesy of Kaaru

Kadambh Light Sketch: Sanjib Chatterjee


project / Golf Links Residence, New Delhi

Making of Kadambh Lights Pic: Bibin Cheriyan

Making of the Silver Wall Pic: Sanjib Chatterjee

Silver Wall Pic: Amit Pasricha

lacework on stretched wooden frames in Kaaru’s studio. Hung across a stainless steel structure, they were fitted with LED light sources before being installed on site. The lights are controlled in a manner that can be dimmed to emanate a soft, gentle glow, or also provide intense pools of illumination in the lobby, catering to various moods and requirements. The sweet sound of Krishna’s flute is further represented on the adjacent wall. Perfectly offsetting the depth of blue Lapis, silver panels depict a trail of cows helplessly being drawn by the mystical music emerging from within a tree. Deriving from the term ‘Krish’, which means ‘to attract’, the Lord entices the herd towards him. Large copper sheets were hand beaten to give the

embossed form of the cattle and then plated with silver to bring the monochromatic sculptural work to life. Stepping into the living room, the eye is immediately drawn to the far end of the linear space – to the vivid celebration of Rama and Sita’s vivaah (wedding). The second of the three Goud paintings resides here, its bright yellow and orange hues framed perfectly against subtle tones of grey. Flanking either side of the painting are hand-chiselled stone panels with metal inlays in floral leitmotif taken from the artwork. Symbolic of Indian tradition and wedding celebration, the golden flowers commemorate the mythical occasion and its associated festivities, offering a procession

that leads one towards the newly wedded. Alluding to Rama-Sita’s 14-year vanvas (exile), symbols derived from the forest are further referenced in the compelling copper plated ceiling installation, wherein large sheets laid out in an oval configuration are perforated in the form of branches with leaves and even birds, some perched and some in flight. The sprawling tree canopy shadows the entire room, which is dotted with a rather unconventional seating arrangement. Kaaru took it upon them to design and detail not only the layout of the living room but also custom-make its furniture. Addressing the need for large gatherings, and resisting nuclear clusters, Kaaru


Main Living Pic: Amit Pasricha

Pic: Amit Pasricha

dedicated a team member to solely design this space. Chatterjee explains, “We created an architectural setting, where the sofas were like buildings. The height of the backs of the furniture pieces was determined to allow maximum visibility of the painting. The sides were raised to create variation, and the modules were broken for flexibility. The centrepiece also holds seating.� The two flanges that project out of each end of the centre table were carefully engineered with bespoke wheel systems so as to appear much lighter. These forms were achieved after rigorous research on fabrics and detailed exercises of making numerous models. Juxtaposed against the chromatic, gilded living space on one side is the sombre dining

Copper Ceiling Sketch: Sanjib Chatterjee

Pic: Sanjib Chatterjee


project / Golf Links Residence, New Delhi

Pic: Sanjib Chatterjee

Pic: Sanjib Chatterjee

room draped in unsullied white on the other. The third Goud piece situated here is an anomaly in the collection. Stepping away from a vibrant palette, the artist casts Krishna in solemn hues as he imprudently peers through a window to watch Radha. His playful act is blanched by the muted strokes in the painting, the spirit of which extends to the design of the space as well, keeping the flooring and walls finished in white. Inspired by the soaring tree in the painting, believed to be a compound of the banana and peepul plant, Kaaru’s rendition of the dining table was subtle – a white counter laid with banana leaf motifs set atop a simplistic

armature. The backdrop to the setting, however, is where one can notice the finest details. “A cascading water pattern on the wall is just a very light presence in the space,” says Chatterjee of the white marble surface, which is sculpted by the deft fingers of master stone carvers from Gwalior and parts of Rajasthan. He adds, “The mural is flowing in four different cascades, with different visual notes, visible probably to the eye that has the patience to listen to its movement in lines. The soft stone texture belies the solidity of the material almost making the observer believe in its suppleness as actual water, occasionally broken with

small pools of hand-carved water swirls.” Water was a very intentional introduction to the experience of dining in this space. While one relates to the sound of flowing water to calm the senses, in this case, the same effect was translated to a visual medium in absolute silence. It is the quietude of colour that caresses the multi-hued feast, and the tranquillity of textures that heightens its assimilation. Kaaru has played a game of weights and balances throughout the house, be it with relation to colours and contrasts, symbols and references, tradition and progression or experiences and perceptions. While the


The White Wall Sketch: Sanjib Chatterjee

project was developed over a protracted period, one step at a time, stealing the opportunity for the designers to conceptualise the overall premise of their thematic, it also posed a challenge for them to navigate through the labyrinth of altering ideologies and evolving expectations. Chatterjee describes it as, “Thread by thread, the warp of twelve different living craft forms of India were laid together within the weave of contemporary design, to make this an abode for Radha, Sita, Krishna and Rama.” Kaaru has braided within their work and their working independent constructs that amalgamate to conceive an integrated path. This is not a ‘whole’ made of parts; instead, graceful strokes of ingenuity have orchestrated a series of experiences that seamlessly accrue to nurture a homogeneous acquaintance.


Pic: Sanjib Chatterjee

Pic: Amit Pasricha

Golf Links Residence, New Delhi Architecture, Interior Design, Landscape Design, Production: KAARU Design Team: Sanjib Chatterjee, Raghvendra Jha, Bibin Cheriyan, Navneet Srivastava, Rahil Jain, Mansi Singhal (Intern) Lighting Design: vis-a-vis



Pics: Keith Hunter

sleight of hand Packing homages, tributes and inspirations into a home for himself in Edinburgh, Richard Murphy has had the luxury of fine-tuning details and lavishing an extraordinary amount of attention on this extraordinary structure with a rather small footprint. Devyani Jayakar of mondo*arc india|STIR examines the amazing made-to-order functionality of these spaces.


Sleight of hand. Box of tricks. Rubik’s Cube. Jigsaw puzzle. Variously referred to thus, the home of Richard Murphy in Edinburgh is certainly like no other – garnering the RIBA award, amongst a handful of others. Murphy readily concedes that it could possibly be ‘over-designed.’ “A lot of the complexity comes from the project’s long gestation: it won planning permission in 2007, but the recession put the brakes on, happily allowing four years of ‘fiddling about’ with the design,” he says. A careful contextual response to adjacent existing buildings, this structure sits well within the established landscape and urban patterns of Edinburgh’s New Town.

It responds to the surrounding Georgian architecture and is meant to finish and bookend the adjacent tenement’s gable. Tightly designed, it features a series of unexpected spaces, secret compartments and moving walls to mention a few. Carlo Scarpa, the renowned Venetian architect is credited with being the inspiration for much of the detailing in the house. How so? Murphy is an acknowledged authority on the work of the Italian designer and has even authored three books on his hero. Scarpa’s appreciation of craft led him to revel in the smallest of details, almost unmatched among modern architects. Dedicated to the craft of building, his work

was fastidious, immaculate, and notably scrupulous about the finish, setting it apart from others of his generation. Murphy’s house reflects this influence in no small measure, down to the walls in ‘stucco lucido’ or coloured Venetian plasterwork. The roof terrace is a homage to the garden of Scarpa’s Querini Stampalia housemuseum in Venice, using the same exposed aggregate walls and sourcing tiles from the architect’s original manufacturer in Venice. Other influences, such as those of the Sir John Soane Museum and the Maison de Verre, can be seen in the use of illusion and moving elements. Rietveld’s Schroder house makes an appearance in a ‘disappearing



“Designing for yourself is not easy. My friend Murray Grigor remarked that, “My indecision is final!” Now aged 60, I won’t be designing another so the danger is that one tries to get every idea one has seen or had into one small project.”

Sectional Perspective

“Most architects have an ambition to build a house for themselves; unfortunately, not many get the chance. I was lucky.”

“The adjacent tenement gable end should never have been exposed nor should it have been extended upwards in the 1960’s and the new house deliberately responds by building high to becoming a ‘bookend’ to it; it both hides the gable and attempts to conclude the façade.”



Second Floor Plan 1. Master Bedroom


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First Floor Plan 1. Living Room 2. Dining Room 3. Kitchen 4. Terrace Garden




“The design was recommended refusal by Edinburgh City Council Planning Department but Councillors voted to reject this advice and allowed construction to go ahead. Since its completion, the Architect’s Journal have named it their ‘House of the Year 2015’, it has won a Saltire Award for the best new house in Scotland and has won a Civic Trust National Award. It was also conferred the RIBA National Award in 2016. By contrast, the RIAS decided that it was ‘not worth visiting’ when shortlisting for their annual awards in 2015.”


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Ground Floor Plan 1. Entrance 2. Hall 3. Study 4. Bedroom 5. Utility Room 6. Garage






Location Plan Drawings: Courtesy of Richard Murphy Architects

Basement Plan 1. Log Store 2. Store/Plant Room 3. Bedroom 4. Log Lift 5. Wine Store

“The Sir John Soane Museum is a great influence with mirrors creating a number of spatial illusions. Equally present is a fascination with Chareau’s Maison de Verre in Paris with the crafting of many of the steel elements, the exposure of the steel structure and a love of moving parts.”

corner’ stone panel opening, designed to be the same proportions as his famous window. Murphy is clearly partial to the idea of a house that transforms itself from day to night, or from one season to another. “In Edinburgh, we can have twenty hours of daylight a day or six. The house needs to close down as much as open up.” The house is designed to adapt with the seasons to open up in summer and close down and cocoon in winter. A 45-degree mono-pitch roof fitted with photo-voltaic cells holds considerably sized glazing. Below this, two large insulated shutters can either swing closed to shut out sunlight or open and flood the interior with light. When closed they completely transform the high volume of the living room into a more intimate ambience. The litany of environmentally sensitive strokes is a long one. The glazing generates heat for the house during the day, while the insulated panels prevent warmth from escaping at night and in winter. All the major windows to the house have insulated shutters which slide or pivot, including pulley-operated clerestory shutters. “Other energy innovations are a computerised internal air circulation system which takes warm air from the top of the house to the basement to counteract the stack effect and expels it via a gravel rock store to produce a delayed heat source for evening use. The main heating source for the house is a 150m deep ground source borehole connecting to a heat exchanger which feeds under-floor heating. Rainwater which follows a course of pools and waterfalls on the roof terrace finds its way to grey-water storage tanks in the basement and is then used to flush toilets and supply a sprinkler system,” says Murphy.


“Frank LLoyd Wright’s many contemporary fireplace inglenooks, particularly in his Usonian Houses is the inspiration behind the fireplace composition and Reitveld’s Schroder house makes an appearance in a ‘disappearing corner’ stone panel opening in the master bedroom, designed to be the same proportions as his famous corner window.”

Everything is built in and premeditated, squeezing mileage out of each square inch of the 11m x 6m footprint. Four stories and nine levels contain three bedrooms, three shower rooms, a living/dining/kitchen area at varying levels, study, reception hall, basement plant and storage, garage, utility room and roof terrace. Murphy considers everything to be convenient and accessible, recalling the design of caravans, ships or other restricted spaces. “The kitchen is logically designed; its storage has everything in the right place and its raised level keeps the paraphernalia of cooking out of sight of the living space. This is an efficient design,” he says. Additionally, Murphy’s work here offers unexpected glimpses between the multiple levels through peepholes, windows or hatches that slide open through mechanics, contributing to its playful character blended with outstanding craftsmanship. A simple open plan has been tossed aside in favour of a complex series of sections with the agenda of extending spaces and creating spatial illusions. “There is an unpredictable and non-repetitive vertical circulation route through the house. At the design stage, a chance visit to the Muller House in Prague by Adolf Loos confirmed this strategy in my mind,” says Murphy. A red bookcase wraps around the staircase, with a ladder that slides on a track. Unexpectedly, for the small footprint, the walls are like fortresses – up to two feet thick – but they are layered so as to make the rooms feel larger rather than more cramped, housing staircases and storage, emulating the architecture of Medieval Scotland. “There isn’t any empirical evidence to support this, but I feel complex spaces tend to look larger than very simple

“Peter Smithson once said to his students, “You will be very lucky if you have a single original idea in your life!” No architect is immune from the work of those who have gone before and at Hart Street I freely confess to a number of architectural influences at work.”


ones. If I had used thin walls, I don’t think the spaces would have felt as big,” explains Murphy. “I try to wring every maximum possible opportunity for architecture out of a site. The danger is that one tries to get every idea one has seen or had into one small project. It (this house) certainly is not intended to be an exemplar and definitely not a prototype. It has been an enjoyable vehicle to develop a lifetime’s themes and now it gives me great pleasure to both live there and to hear the remarks of the many visitors it has hosted over the last year or so.”. Would Murphy have designed this home differently if it was meant for a client? “It may have been a little less adventurous…I would not experiment so much or take risks for a client. The electrical shutters under the roof may not have been used….” he says. Is it possible for the details to be replicated for other homes? “They can be modified,” he adds. In this fascinating, complex home full of clever details and surprises, significant amounts of accommodation have been squeezed out of a very restricted site,

while increasing the feeling of space through the use of complex sections and occasional tricks with mirrors. To copy-paste this design or even part of it elsewhere would not only require immense skill but also perhaps great thought as to how those components could offer an experience similar to what one faces here. Having lived there for years, Murphy has never felt the house to be ‘too small’ or ‘too cramped’ or ‘too cluttered’. Not only does he live in comfort, but contrary to what might be perceived, uses each of his designed elements regularly; a clear testament that the architecture here is far from gimmickry, and the innovation of the architectural design determinedly overpowers its mechanics.

PROJECT DETAILS Murphy House, Edinburgh, Scotland Client: Richard Murphy Design Team: Richard Murphy, Gareth Jones, James Falconer, Tersius Maass


project / House of Secret Gardens, Ahmedabad, Gujarat

Sketch: Courtesy of SPASM Design

AT THE CROSSROADS OF DESIGN Conceived by Mumbai based studio SPASM Design, The House of Secret Gardens in Ahmedabad was produced out of an exuberant relationship with the clients, wherein a cohesive and highly engaging environment is rendered with the finest architectural details. Meghna Mehta of mondo*arc india|STIR delves into a macro-to-micro level analysis of the project.


Pic: Courtesy of SPASM Design

Multiple times we come across architectural projects that have a discreet brief given by the client and then led on by the architects. However, in this peculiar case, the clients were an integral part of the project, through the conception, design and execution, so much so that it encouraged and enthralled the architects to become a part of the tiniest details until its closure. Architects Sanjeev Panjabi and Sangeeta Merchant of SPASM were selected by the clients for the design of their Ahmedabad house after they had considered over 20 architects. “The client’s long search for the right architect ended with us; and a call every single day, without fail, followed. Clearly, we became like a drug/fix, keeping the daily sense of invention, ideas and fervour, within the project and within us, going. We loved this depth of involvement – the curious nature as to how each aspect of his demands would unravel and arrive at a conclusion,” says Panjabi. Having visited the 3-acre site, the architects presented 3 very different conceptual designs generated from three completely varied approaches. The design that the clients found most appealing was the proposal with an integrated inclusion of gardens, each with a unique mood, looking inwards into the home. The plan was designed in the shape of a cruciform, where the residual cuboidal spaces of the site were utilized as gardens, each with a distinct function. The clients also appreciated the idea of cross-organisation of spaces - each arm of the structure was designed to be only one room thick, therefore allowing a free flow of light and ventilation through all the spaces. Wider

Pic: Courtesy of SPASM Design

Pic: Courtesy of SPASM Design

Pic: Courtesy of SPASM Design


project / House of Secret Gardens, Ahmedabad, Gujarat

3 1



10 1




5 1

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3 8



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Ground Floor Plan 1. Car Drop Off 2. Front Entrance 3. Living 4. Dining 5. Kitchen 6. Bedroom 7. Bathroom 8. Courtyard 9. Wooden Pavilion 10. Waterbody

windows on the lower floors permit walking into the gardens, while narrower windows above facilitate ventilation. Reminiscent of Richard Neutra’s Kauffman House, which is also based on a pinwheel diagram, this design brings in much contextual, local and climate responsive value. The spaces within the house follow a distinct zoning pattern. As one enters through a large courtyard, the movement is primarily focused towards the intersected volume at the centre of the ‘cross’, which houses the main staircase and common areas such as the living room, dining area and kitchen. The living room opens into a semi-open space and further into the main

Section Drawings: Courtesy of SPASM Design

First Floor Plan 1. Children’s Living 2. Master Living 3. Children’s Bedroom 4. Master Bedroom 5. Bathrooms 6. Terrace

garden, while the dining area opens directly into a secluded family garden. The kitchen is connected to an in-house cultivation area, which is primarily used for providing the house with fresh supplies. The parent’s bedroom is also housed on the ground floor, linked to a private backyard. The main connecting staircase and elevator lead one to the upper floor into a series of luxurious spaces – bedrooms and a common private roof garden above the living area. Divided into three zones, the floor contains the master and two children’s rooms that have all been designed in a similar progression - one enters into a private lounge and is then taken into the bedroom

space, which is further connected to the wardrobe and bathroom (occupying almost the same area as that of the bedroom). “The plan adopts a strategy of roofed and open-air rooms. The hallways of the home are modulated in a way so as to create a sense of sauntering between the inside and outside, which is heightened through an intricacy given to the transitioning between closed, semi-open and open spaces,” says Panjabi. Due to its form, the home effortlessly utilizes and promotes the use of external areas, all along the edges of the cross layout, almost creating a centrifugal force of attention within. Each of the indoor spaces opens onto


Pic: Sebastian Zachariah and Ira Gosalia, Photographix

Pic: Sebastian Zachariah and Ira Gosalia, Photographix

gardens; this strategy helping the courtyards to be utilized for multiple purposes. One of them is used as a kitchen garden, one as an entry foyer, one has a private access and another is the main spillout yard with visual and physical access from the common areas. “The gardens, intended as seamless expressions, will mature over the years as view boxes which will come alive with the moving sun, breeze animating them and rain imbuing the home with the fresh aroma of the dry earth’s thirst quenched,” describes Merchant. While the upper storey has thin and tall

windows with the provision for mosquito protection offering glimpses of the courtyards, respecting privacy, the lower level offers panoramic vistas of the spaces. Through this technique, the architects have effortlessly choreographed the views of its users giving a multitude of experiences, akin to the approach in the design of old Indian forts and palaces. Discussing the impact the building was imagined to make in the fabric of the city, Panjabi explains, “This house in Ahmedabad is meant to be an expression in Dhrangadhra stone, a material used in many architectural

antiquities of the city, such as stepwells, jalis etc.” After various experimentations with the stone with respect to its texture, thickness and quality, the architects derived a complete sense of the material before applying it to 3D models and eventually to the building. With the complete trust of the client, the architects concluded the design process in 6 months, at the end of which the material was found to be ageing gracefully, had a mottled texture and beautiful bone colouration. Available in blocks, slabs and dust from quarries nearby, the Dhrangadhra

“This house in Ahmedabad is meant to be an expression in Dhrangadhra stone, a material used in many architectural antiquities of the city, such as stepwells, jalis etc.�



2 Terrace


Pic: Edmund Sumner

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11 12 10 14 3 2


5 8 16


Pic: Sebastian Zachariah and Ira Gosalia, Photographix


15 17 Deck 20

18 2

Facade Detail

Pic: Sebastian Zachariah and Ira Gosalia, Photographix

1. Waterproofing 2. 20mm Dhangadhra stone cladding 3. External wet cladded stone fins 4. 10mm thk MS rods to support stone fins 5. 50x50 aluminium U-channel, bronze anodized 6. External calcium silicate board 7. Service duct inside false ceiling 8. Suspended electrical conduits 9. Timber railing supported by metal structure 10. 60x100 RCC bund to fix railing, finished with 20mm external stone 11. 2 20mm stone top rested 25mm above FFL on stool & L angle, to drain water 12. 200x300 aluminium channel as gutter 13. 75mm external stone floor laid to slope 14. Aluminium spout for balcony gutter 15. Panorama sliding doors 16. Cove light fixture 17. Panorama sliding doors- drains channel 18. 20mm Dhangadhra stone flooring 19. 4000x600x300 Dhangadhra stone block 20. Plinth Beam


Pic: Edmund Sumner

stone became the affirmed choice. The cellular structure of this sandstone holds intermittent microscopic air gaps, acting as an insulation panel by itself, cooling the passing breeze. This very feature led the architects to use the stone to clad the entire body of the house, which would permit easy cross ventilation and the possibility of a unified connect with the outdoors. The material, thus, has been used in giant vertical blocks to form a periphery, a border to the gardens and frame the edges, as well as to cool the gardens and create a sense of containment, scale and oneness. The intricately designed fins over the building surface act as a unique shading device and create an interesting design pattern. The form of the house, nestled within its secret gardens and crafted out of a monolithicappearing structure forms an aesthetic impression accompanied with its the crossshaped construct. The house has been designed to keep in mind passive climate control to facilitate the convectional movement of air through these stone fins, which cut perpendicular to the building façade and cause incident shadows, hence cooling the faces creating an ever-changing rhythm of shadows and light. “In Ahmedabad, we found that the light was very sharp and harsh at times.

Comfort can be achieved by darker wall or floor surfaces to reduce reflected glare. Therefore, we wanted the house to have a bespoke and a finely executed character,” says Merchant. Chosen from the client’s collection and commissioned from local artists such as the Kanoria Arts Centre and others, the home abounds several bespoke objects and pieces, many of which are designed by SPASM specifically for this work. A custom fit to the client’s lifestyle was searched to cater to their aspirations and needs. Keeping the ambience subtle, pops of colour were introduced through these artworks. The striking blue wall that embraces the staircase was derived in order to pin the house in the middle, as well as encourage light to reflect in the space. All other walls were painted with lime plaster or chuna, keeping in mind the healthier choice that this finish offers. Apart from being deeply concerned about the flow of spaces, the building dynamics and client’s needs, the architects further delved into the peculiar designing and detailing of customised products. “Objects, furniture and possession form contents of architectural space, which is further heightened by the physicality and placement of these arts and crafts.

Pic: Courtesy of SPASM Design

Objects, Furniture, Possesions form the contents of Architectural space. They influence the occupation of space and the mood. The presence of architectural space is heightened to an atmosphere by the physicality and the placement of these.



Plan Drawings: Courtesy of SPASM Design

At another level, furniture is about memories. The favourite chair, the perfect spot and worn corner, all become indelible to the experience of dwelling. Observing the way space is used leads to a better grasp of what an object or a piece of furniture should be. It is not as much invention as it is evolution or transformation of the existing. Just the right tweak makes the difference between banal good and stylized bad.

ELLIPSE SWING The teakwood frame of the swing is hung using brass rods supported by brass hooks. The seat is woven cane with a teakwood back rest. Pics: Courtesy of SPASM Design

ANGEL POISE Salvaged teakwood sculpted into a towel rod.




Using the craftsmen, carpenters, masons, metal workers and processes of forging materials, is for us a rather non-conceptual and more hands-on method of producing simple objects of use.



Front Elevation

Side Elevation

BRASS Table Two solid brass rectangular supports intersect two solid brass square supports at both ends.

Isonometric View






Pic: Sebastian Zachariah and Ira Gosalia, Photographix

AFLOAT Back rest with wooden frame and brass rods, hung by solid brass rods in two parts with brass chains in between, top and bottom.

the kissing lamp Lamp with suspended brass arms, two movable and one fixed. The movable arms pivots 90 degrees. 450




1600 2100









totem knob A different take on the Inception totem; the solid brass pull offers a satisfactory tactile sensation.


ACROBAT READER LAMP The brass rod having the pin spot lights is pivoted on the wooden rod allowing a co-axial movement.


project / House of Secret Gardens, Ahmedabad, Gujarat

After observing the use of spaces, the right tweak creates the difference between banal good and stylized bad. We carried out this process with the help of craftsmen, carpenters, metal workers, masons, making it a rather non-conceptual and more handson method of producing simple objects of use,” quote the architects. Each product was designed in the architects’ own workshop in Mumbai, according to the exact location it would occupy in the pre-designed house. The LDR (Long Distance Relationship) lamp was designed with 14 feet suspended brass rods so that they can pivot and almost kiss each other. The Acrobat Reader Lamp is designed with a brass rod having pin-spot lights, which pivot along a wooden rod with co-axial movement. Amongst other lights designed, a lamp with suspended brass arms and a brass L-angle was specially conceived to highlight a gold leaf plane behind. The client enjoyed the inspiration that the architects’ derived from varied anecdotes, such as a knob inspired by the twirling Inception (the movie) totem, mainly due to how it sensed when touched. A towel Pic: Umang Shah

rod designed from salvaged teakwood, milled solid brass pulls and a towel rail, custom designed wooden and brass door handles, all seem overwhelming, but offer an extraordinarily satisfactory tactile sensation. The architects’ harnessed the freedom they received into detailing two flights of the staircase differently; the lower half in varying finishes of stone and the upper flight as a cantilever in wood. Other furniture products intricately designed for the house include three different types of coffee tables made with solid rosewood legs and varied table-tops of solid brass, and a scalloped Baroda green marble top. Interlocking solid brass rectangular supports for a dining table and Olive leather-back sling chairs with brass plates fixed between bent rosewood are some of the other furniture pieces that the architects derived, to express the ageing of the material and the patina it created. Two swings or hitchkas were created with a twist; an elliptical swing with a woven cane bottom and a teakwood backrest are reminiscent of traditional furniture, however, with a contemporary touch.


Pic: Sebastian Zachariah and Ira Gosalia, Photographix

Pic: Umang Shah

The wooden swing was converted directly from a bench, even keeping its legs intact a hint of humour to make it appear as if it is levitating. It is through these elements, some crafted, some up-cycled, some sourced and others discovered, that SPASM has added an edge of modern design and comfort to the interior spaces. The architects’ long search for an appropriate emotion for the water body ended in the commissioning of a lifesculpture of a pensive monk in Beslana stone, which appears gracefully placed on the water’s surface as if floating. The poise and symbolism allude to the popular image of ‘Alba’, the statue at the Barcelona Pavilion designed by Mies Van Der Rohe in 1929. “The aim was to deliver a home which allows its occupants to live a life in the bosom of nature, sensing the seasons, entertaining their family and friends and celebrating the joys of a well-placed life with immaculate art, sculpture and objects. Architecture, we believe, is about summoning beauty and distilling moments of tranquil inner happiness, an awareness of just being and celebrating a single breath

Pic: Sebastian Zachariah and Ira Gosalia, Photographix

when everything is perfect,” says Panjabi. The project is a great expression of what the positive involvement of clients can establish for the architects and their relationship with the project to give results that are then beyond expectation and become the pride of all. The building stands out due to its magnanimous monolith appearance, and within, due to the peculiar attention to designing bespoke products and details, creating a wholesome experience for the users to be one with nature, art and architecture brought together in their purest form.

PROJECT DETAILS House of Secret Gardens, Ahmedabad, Gujarat Architecture & Interiors: SPASM Design Design Team: Sangeeta Merchant, Gauri Satam, Divyesh Kargathra, Vijjisha Kakka, Mansoor Kudalkar, Sanjeev Panjabi RCC Contractor: Mahir Builtcon Structural Engineer: Ducon Consultants Pvt. Ltd Landscape Consultant: Kunal Maniyar MEP Consultant: Vimarsh Plumbing Project Management: Ingit Anand, Kalpesh Shah, Mahendra Shah, Laxman Desai Carpenter: Krishna Interiors Interior Civil Contractor: Mortar


project / villa borsani, milan, italy

VILLA VIEWS the family home of osvaldo borsani

While visiting the Salone Del Mobile in Milan earlier this year, Bengaluru based architect, Sandeep Khosla had the rare opportunity to visit this famed estate. Khosla recounts his experience of fabulous spaces, flourishing interiors and fascinating details as he traipses through the villa, exclusively for mondo*arc india|STIR.


“Borsani was obviously an architect with impeccable taste in materials and an evocative sense of detail. I had to learn more.”

Pics: Sandeep Khosla

I had a deeply moving and unexpected experience this April at Milan Design Week. While flicking through the plethora of literature and blogs at Fourisalone 2018, I came across an opportunity to visit Villa Borsani, Italian Modernist Osvaldo Borsani’s design for his family home in the town of Vareda, in Milan’s northern outskirts. The 1943 villa was open to the public for only 4 days from 16th to 20th April to coincide with other Salone events after having been closed for over a decade. I wasn’t about to pass up this rare opportunity! I hadn’t really heard of the low key Osvaldo Borsani, but what compelled me to go was to see a perfectly intact example of mid-century and postwar Italian modernism. What compelled me to write this piece is that Borsani’s legacy has been relatively unknown in the world

outside of Italy, and even less so in India. On reaching the Villa I was asked to wait at the forecourt with its stunning wisteria covered pergola - I was immediately able to absorb the richly layered 3000sq.m garden with its stucco portals, ancient ivy-covered walls and grand old trees, and was instantly transported back in time, eager to experience what lay beyond. Our guide, an art history student who was now working with the Borsani family archives ushered a small group of us in. After giving us a synopsis of the Villa’s history and the Borsani family, she invited us to experience the Villa at our own pace. I soon learnt that London-based design consultant Ambra Medda with a bunch of stylists had worked very closely with the Borsani family to curate the sensory experience of walking through the space as if time had stood still since the 1960’s. They had brought the interiors alive with fresh floral arrangements and fragrance, a music playlist ranging from Sinatra’s ‘Come Fly With Me’ to Blondie’s ‘Heart Of Glass’, and accessories such as books, towels and bathroom slippers, to evoke the feeling that the family members were still staying in the Villa and had just stepped out for a while. On entering the main door, I was sure I had encountered something very special. My first visual was of a dramatic floating staircase framed against a full height window with

a grid of square wooden mullions inserted with hand-rolled glass. It took my breath away! The staircase treads and risers were crafted out of white marble with a hint of a pinkish glow - the same Candoglia marble, I was told, had been used in the Duomo in Milan. The railing was made of walnut and inserted with tapered sections of Murano glass, held elegantly to the sides with copper bolts. The underside of the staircase was formed in ribbed plaster and the entryway flooring draped in a patterned organic marble inlay. Borsani was obviously an architect with impeccable taste in materials and an evocative sense of detail. I had to learn more. I learnt that Borsani’s father Gaetano was a bespoke cabinetmaker with a workshop in Varena in the 1920s. Osvaldo first began working in the atelier when he was only 12 years old and then went on to study architecture at the Politecnico di Milano. During his time in architecture school, he won the silver medal at the fifth Triennale awards, indicating the originality that he would continue to demonstrate in his career. In 1953, Osvaldo and his twin brother Fulgenzio turned the company into Tecno, a furniture brand that still exists today ( Many of Osvaldo’s creations (such as the P40 adjustable armchair, the D70 seat sofa and the AT 16 coat hanger) created under that


label are now considered modern classics. On one side of the stairs was a study room, where on the desk I was able to browse through a folder with original cabinetry drawings and sketches from Osvaldo’s father’s workshop. I then started wandering about - from the spacious living and dining areas on split-levels to the private bedrooms and office on the first floor. I was impressed by the rigorous articulation of volumes and the way that the spaces seamlessly flowed into one another. I was also struck by the verticality of the volumes, further emphasized by tall floor to ceiling windows. The soaring heights and generous cross ventilation in each of the spaces was an obvious choice to keep the villa cool during the Italian summers. The relationship of the house to the garden was also important with great vistas from the living room on the ground floor and the master bedroom on the first floor. This was a rationalist design but so richly layered from the inside. The entire house was dotted with custom designed

pieces of furniture, some artisanal and others that were symbols of post-war industrial design. As a designer, architect, and entrepreneur, Borsani considered and designed every facet in his projects – from ceiling and wall embellishments to custommade curtains. There was also a spirit of collaboration evident while walking through the spaces. Borsani collaborated on artworks with several of his contemporaries who were his childhood friends; the dramatic ceramic fireplace in the living room by Lucio Fontana and the mosaic mural in the master bathroom by Adriano Spilimbergo are some such examples. What is interesting to see in the Villa is that there is a bridge between Traditionalism and Modernism and one can see both influences quite clearly in the way the furniture pieces are placed. It shows Borsani’s progression from the handcrafted to something very engineered and mass-manufactured. There is craft evident everywhere but also technological innovations in the pieces by Tecno. Innovations extend into the heated marble floors in the bathrooms, and the handrolled double glazed glass windows, which were a first in any house of that time period in Italy and electric call bells under the onyx dining table. It is always powerful to see such a personal vision in a house and Villa Borsani is a great example of customization, collaboration and obsessive attention to detail. It is also a perfect synthesis of practicality and aesthetics, which Borsani was known for. Osvaldo Borsani died in 1985. The shy and reserved architect was overshadowed by the fame of other contemporaries like Gio Ponti, but the world is taking notice now with a major retrospective of his work curated by Sir Norman Foster and Fantoni, currently showing at the Triennale de Milano. It took one afternoon at this modernist gem for me to discover Borsani’s genius.


project / fjord house, vejle, denmark

Fjordenhus, 2018 Vejle, Denmark Pics: Anders Sune Berg


Geometric Development Fjordenhus, 2009—2018

Volume A

Volume B

Rotated volumes x 4

Void A

Void A and Void B

Drum with voids

4 intersecting drums

Voids merge to generate one mass

Final form with adjusted heights and openings

FLOATING IN-BETWEEN The recent collaboration between Olafur Eliasson and Sebastian Behmann raises question on the boundary of architectural and art practice. On behalf of mondo*arc india|STIR, Devanshi Shah talks to the design team to discover the finer nuances of creating this new headquarter as an architectural piece of art.

d Studio Olafur Eliasson

d Studio Olafur Eliasson

d Studio Olafur Eliasson

d Studio Olafur Eliasson

nd Studio Olafur Eliasson

Fourth Floor

Fjordenhus 2009—2018

Fourth Floor













Third Floor

Fjordenhus 2009—2018

Third Floor

Second Floor

Fjordenhus 2009—2018

Second Floor

In a time of multidisciplinary practices, there is still a polemic stand on what constitutes architecture, and more importantly what defines an architect. Constructing forms, spatial experiences and buildings are no longer terms exclusive to architecture. The increasingly overlapping nature of architecture and art has enforced a more nuanced understanding of our terminology. In any given experimental project, terms like space, place or expanse can sometimes reveal the primary disciple of its designer. Architects tend to extend their practices beyond structures and buildings, incorporating product, art and landscape into their work, in an attempt to craft a holistic narrative. What would happen should that narrative be reversed? Giving voice to this didactic discourse is Olafur Eliasson and Sebastian Behmann’s latest spatial installation Fjordenhus (Fjord House). Designed as the new headquarters for Kirk Kapital, the building sits off the made-made harbour of the city of Vejle, Denmark, seemingly floating in the Vejle Fjord. The company’s origin can be traced back to 1932 and Ole Kirk Kristiansen,the founder to LEGO.

First Floor

Fjordenhus 2009—2018

First Floor

Ground Floor

Fjordenhus 2009—2018

Ground Floor

Layout Plans





Drawings: Courtesy of Studio Olafur Eliasson, Studio Other Spaces

Olafur Eliasson and Studio Olafur Eliasson

Fjordenhus 2009—2018





While Behmann is an architect, Eliasson is not, and herein lays the discourse. Studio Other Spaces (SOS) co-founded by Eliasson and Behmann in 2014, was set up with the intention of creating and realizing large-scale experimental architectural projects, with both names attributed to the creation of the project. Fjordenhus is the first major project to be constructed since the foundation of SOS but remains a Studio Olafur Eliasson creation, while marking itself as more than an art installation. There is a synergy to the dual nature of the building, which took almost nine years to be realized. Both a work of art and a functional structure, the building can be seen from two distinct points of view. While Eliasson talks about the experiences and framed vistas from within the structure, Behmann discusses the importance of the setting and the connection of the building to its context. Never implying that art and architecture are the same, the duo emphasises the importance of being able to collaborate to create something new. The collaboration is not limited to Behmann designing the building and Eliasson filling it with spatially sensitive artwork. The

Fjordenhus, 2009-2018 Vejle, Denmark

building itself is designed as a work of art, undergoing both an artistic and architectural design process. The combined process is evident in the joint description of envisioning the building emerging from the water, even at the concept stage. Being in the building and seeing the building - these are the two dialogues the building has written into its own architecture. The structure itself has a primal spatial understanding that looks at volumes as opposed to form. Taking inspiration from the local harbour structure, the Fjordenhus opens up its volumes from the inside looking out. The driving design feature is the vertical voids that are cut out along the periphery of the structure. These distorted voids were formed by connecting a circle at the top with an eclipse at the base, making this detail a good analogue for the conjunction of the two streams working together - connecting the more ephemeral aspects of art to the more physical forms of architecture. A systematic repetition of the deformed cylindrical void encircles the defining circular plan to create a sculpted drum with parabolic arches framing its periphery. Four of these drums were then interconnected to the mass of Fjordenhus.

Fjordenhus, 2018 Vejle, Denmark

The surface cut-outs and windows may seem like they are parametrically designed details, but were in fact further modulated to take into account the sun’s path to minimise its impact on the building. The complex curvilinear surface of the building called for an equally understated material expression. Constructed essentially in bricks that are designed in 15 different colours and multiple shapes, there are three additional bricks that are glazed in three distinct colours, giving the surface of the structure a unique visual finish. Some of the bricks were custom designed to incorporate specific functions like acoustics and airflow, almost paying homage to Kirk’s Lego heritage. The ground floor of the Kirk Kapital headquarters is a double heighted open plaza that can be accessed by the public. Due to the parabolic cut-outs along the

Fjordenhus, 2018 Vejle, Denmark

Cirkelspejl, 2018 Vejle, Denmark

Fjordenhus, 2018 Vejle, Denmark


Fjordhvirvel, 2018 Vejle, Denmark

Fjordhvirvel, 2018 Vejle, Denmark

perimeter of each individual drum, the complete plan allows for interesting spaces for Olafur Eliasson to situate his larger than life installations. At the same time, the office floors are also confronted with cylindrical spaces with contorted perimeter walls. This particular spatial quality led to the conception of a custom furniture system designed particularly for this building and potentially limited to this project. If the furniture system is limited to the Fjordenhus, how does it differ from the ceiling mounted Fjordhvirvelor the Undervandsforventning installation in the plaza? This is where the conversation between art and architecture perhaps becomes a bit more complicated. Does unique furniture designed by an art studio become art? If not, then are the

Den indre himmel, 2018 Vejle, Denmark

artworks in the plaza, products? And do they have a purpose beyond completing the architectural narrative? In fact it could be argued that the bricks themselves are a product. Behmann states, “The plaza has no programme. The programme is the artwork.” A private building with floor space that does not have a quantifiable value is a rare occurrence. However it was always a part of the design concept; according to Behmann the client wanted to give something back to the public and to the city. Since the opening, the plaza has been privy to over 600 visitors daily, each coming to experience the ground floor, its materiality, its vista’s and its artwork. These moments are only possible with a client willing to experiment; it is

possible to offer a public space in a private building without any compromises. Tethered to the edge of the question ‘what is architecture and what is art?’ Behmann simply comments, “We don’t say that art is architecture and architecture is art, but very closely together you can really form something extraordinary with multidisciplinary thinking. We also collaborate with other people, dancers, philosophers, but the strongest connection is our common spatial thinking. We wouldn’t say it is purely art or architecture, it is somewhere in between and it is more or less created between the dialogues spoken with each other.”


project / my dva furniture showroom, brno, czech republic

TALKING FAÇADES CHYBIK+KRISTOF Architects rehabilitate Czech furniture company’s jaded showroom to drape its façade in its own products – creating architecture, interiors, art and branding through the smart application of self-made products. On behalf of mondo*arc india|STIR, Devanshi Shah revisits the project to dissect the layers that make it unique.

Pics: Lukas Pelech


Czech Republic’s second largest city, Brno has seen its fair share of iconic architecture and design. In addition to its historic castles and cathedrals, it is also home to Mies van der Rohe’s Villa Tugendhat (1930). An icon of modernism and a UNESCO heritage site, it was a groundbreaking translation of Mies’s ‘less is more’ principle. The house was so intricately designed that Mies alongside Lilly Reich, crafted specific furnishings for the house, specifically two armchairs called the Tugendhat chairs, named after the owners of the home, and the Brno chair, eponymous of the city. While both of these chairs are still in production, a very different chair is making a new architectural statement, and in a very different form. Nearly 85 years later, a refurbished car showroom in Vinohrady, a housing estate built in the early 1980’s, was transformed into ‘a functional banner advertisement’ for a domestic

furniture supplier company. Designed by CHYBIK+KRISTOF Architects & Urban Designers, the façade was a good instance of working with the tools handed to them. The project was commissioned by the MY DVA group, known for their office, school and metal furniture. The brief for the project required a simple and economical refurbishing of the functional and aesthetic aspects of the dated architecture of the showroom. Founding architects Ondřej Chybík and Michal Krištof worked with the limits of their budgets and used MY DVA’s own products as raw material. The 550sqm. showroom - a single storey, freestanding building, was stripped completely both internally and externally giving the architects a blank canvas to work with. In an attempt to give the dated architecture of the 90’s showroom a more contemporary look, the designers converted


project / my dva furniture showroom, brno, czech republic

the entire structure into a porous black box, without interfering with the framework of the exterior. The shell was clad in innumerable black plastic chairs, the company’s own product called Vicenza. While providing a texture to the building, the designers also used this draping to indicate what is inside the building. Connecting the product and the building is a subframe, which follows the massing of the building voids and openings. Constructed using steel profiles, the frame anchors individual seats into a grid, giving the façade movement. By spacing the chairs out a little, the skin allows for diffused sunlight to enter the premises. Even the colour of the product was selected keeping in mind that they would be exposed to natural elements including ultraviolet light, adding to the advertorial nature of the design feature. By allowing each chair to be independently fixed on the subframe, the façade also becomes easy to maintain, in that it would be easy to replace a damaged part. The interior is segregated into two parts; a showroom and back offices. Having completely stripped the interior to make room for a gallery space, the periphery of the structure retains office spaces for the employees. The exhibition area of the modestly sized showroom is designed to accommodate versatile functions. The rectangular space is further divided into three cylindrical display zones, each representing three different aspects of the company’s product line – school furniture, office furniture and design pieces. Each ‘pod’ is demarcated by a white curtain that drapes from ceiling to floor.


Design furniture

Office furniture

School furniture

Layout Plan Drawings: CHYBIK+KRISTOF Architects & Urban Designers


The entire gallery is tied together by a white polyurethane floor finish, while the ceiling is patterned with visible utility wires against exposed concrete. The white curtain acts as a secondary façade within the building creating a semi-public space between the chairs on the façade and the products on display inside. This is mostly used for presentations and client meetings. The project makes a subtle comment on the growing trend of tactile façades while maintaining the core beliefs and design aesthetics of the founding members Ondřej Chybík and Michal Krištof. The relatively young studio was established in 2010, and their work has earned both Chybík and Krištof a place on Forbes ‘30 under 30’ Czech Republic list in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Scrutinizing local context, their work tries to generate an impact to larger ideas. The adaptable nature of the display of the client’s product in a relatively small space, reflect their understanding of the changing nature of architecture. The entire building seems to have been designed in layers, including the colours. The exterior is black, the employee offices along the perimeter of the structure are covered in a grey carpet, while the innermost section of the gallery is complete with a white floor and white curtains. The products also undergo a change in their purpose while their form, structure and material remain constant. In the innermost sanctum, the variously designed objects are displayed as ‘products to be viewed’. Outside the fabric but within the gallery, the objects are in use by employees and by clients. On the exterior, the object seizes being a product and becomes a part of a larger entity and loses its individual value. CHYBIK+KRISTOF’s black skin acts as a statement to the value of a single product to a holistic design.


project / my first pritzker

ALL WORK, ALL PLAY Referencing architectural masterpieces, Andrea Stinga presents ‘My First Pritzker’ as a daring yet erudite project. And whoever says architecture cannot be interpreted as a child’s game should take a moment to dwell into this playful series, suggests Zohra Khan of mondo*arc india|STIR. When the Catalan architectural practice, RCR Arquitectes was conferred the Pritzker Prize in 2017 back in Barcelona, Andrea Stinga conceived the idea of ‘My First Pritzker’. An architect and motion designer, she drew from this revolutionary win a refreshingly new approach to learning about the architecture of great designers. “I thought about summarizing all the winners of this reputable prize into a short, fun and clear video,” recalls Stinga, founder of Ombu Architecture.

Pics: Andrea Stinga

The project presents a series of selected iconic and easy to recognise buildings from around the world designed by each of the 41 winners of the annual Pritzker Prize. In order to understand the geometry of her selection, Stinga took reference from their visuals, axonometric drawings, floor plans and frontal views and developed sketches before representing them in three dimensions. By creating balanced proportions of form, texture, pattern and colour, the resultant wooden toys emerge

in an almost meditative visual dynamism that speaks for itself. “One of the most important things,” she says, “was to make it simple so that it can be understood by everybody and not just architects.” Thus, the miniature versions were cut in wood to make a ‘child’s game’where complex compositions are created as simplified objects. The pieces were then translated into a digitally animated sequence that travels through all the years of exemplary



project / my first pritzker

architectural history. Seguing along a brisk melody, the animation reveals one work after the other in a chronological narration, opening in 1979 with Philip Johnson’s AT&T Headquarters in New York and ending in 2018 with B V Doshi’s Sangath Studio in Ahmedabad. The journey between the idea and its manifestation led Stinga through an exhaustive research to an elaborate design

process. Tracing her steps back, she says, “In the research, I became acquainted with incredible architects and their awesome works,” of which she fondly recalls the Vanna Venturi House by Robert Venturi, Church of Light by Tadao Ando and Everson Museum of Art by I.M.Pei among others. On the other hand, some of the most challenging pieces include the Opera House in Sydney by Jørn Utzon and the famous

Guggenheim Museum by Frank Gehry. The idea of this entire project resonates true with Stinga’s own philosophy – finding simple, clean and fun solutions through animation to explain the beautiful complexity of architecture. She signs off with this message, “This [My First Pritzker] is a very valuable tool for information that I feel any architect or architectural student should know.” Video:


product / international inspirations

ARCHITECTURE INSPIRES ENTITIES Designers from around the world have driven inspiration from architectural elements to create pieces that are unique and fitting of the wants of today’s contemporary modern. Meghna Mehta of mondo*arc india|STIR identifies a collection of some of these interesting, intriguing and impressive works. Design and architecture have depended on each other for centuries taking clues from their immediate social and cultural environs. Complementing, supplementing and often even inspiring each other, architects and product designers from the world over have either collaborated or developed independently, works that raise the bar and challenge the norm.

Here we have recognised a selection of products we find evocative of their architectural contexts. Some products instigate memories of classical architectural elements, some of the proximate urban fabric and some prompt a combined expression of the contiguous social and city heritage, bridging a solid connection between architecture and the design fields.

Pics: Courtesy of Stelios Mousarris


Stelios Mousarris is a Cypriot based designer with a Bachelor’s degree in Model-making. Having worked for Foster+Partners as a model-maker and assistant designer in 2014, he stepped into the design world by starting his own company, Mousarris. The City Pendant light is a perfect example of the amalgamation of architecture and nature. Mousarris explains, “I derived inspiration from the brute forceful form of architecture and the natural curvature of waves, transforming a straight line of

buildings into a beautiful curve.” A previous product along the same concept called the Wave City Table was directly connected to the imagination in the movie ‘Inception’ and gained much attention. On similar lines, Mousarris has designed the pendant light, but in a unique form. Although surprising, Mousarris claims to not have been inspired directly by architecture. However, he admits that architectural elements always played a big role in his work due to his keen eye for materials and its qualities, and his intrigue on how they can be moulded and given a new life. The materials used to make the City Pendant light are wood as the main base, 3D printed technology for the city skyline and steel. Another surprising idea is the fact that the

designer thinks of the material much later, after conceptualizing the product. It is envisioned as a product that can be fitted in homes where people would most appreciate its presence. Attempting to step away from the demands and on-goings of the contemporary world, Mousarris mentions, “I only work and create products that are true to my core principals, bringing to life a piece that you may have never seen before,” which can be truly considered in this case. The product is a blend of various innovative ideas - of the harshness of architecture, its combination with natural waves and its eventual application through different materials using modern technology.



Pic: Courtesy of Folkform

Anna Holmquist co-founded the studio with Chandra Ahlsell after meeting at Konstfack College of Art, Craft and Design in Stockholm. The studio has been a part of various exhibitions including the 2016 Lauritz Icon award for the lamp Skyline. The lamp was designed as a part of an

Pic: Kristofer Johnsson

exhibition where the studio was working with exploring different metals such as brass and bronze. “The conceptual designs of the blocky forms are inspired by the local architecture and based on the skyline of the concrete buildings of the Stockholm suburb where we grew up,” says Holmquist. A prominent architectural inspiration was incorporated into the design of the product by challenging the solid square and further deconstructing it into smaller elements. The unique elemental quality of the product appeared from the process of each new material that was worked with over a period of time and further to understand its nature and qualities, to get the feeling of how it functions. The prominent material used was a reflective surface of metals, which creates an illusion of the form and plays with

Pic: Courtesy of Folkform

the viewer. “For us, we try to innovate the meaning of materials. Our work is a constant dialogue with different materials, and in this series we have been exploring different metal surfaces,” explains Ahlsell. “While the first piece was made for an exhibition, it was a very special moment when the Skyline was given by the government to Her Majesty, Queen Silvia on the occasion of her 70th birthday. It is now in the home of the royal family,” they add. Having their piece added to the permanent collection of the National Museum of Swedish Art, the designers share, “We work with a craft-based design approach where material, skill and location of the product is very important; but at the same time, most of our pieces are close to art and have become gallery pieces.”


product / international inspirations

BENDING ELEGANCE MIZU Eberhard Mitterrutzner + Fratelli Reifer Custom

Pic: Karin Regensberger

Eberhard Mitterrutzner was born in Italy in 1965. A passionate carpenter, teacher and inventor, his collaboration with the Italian furniture company Fratelli Reifer Custom is witness to a protracted and extensive experience of working with different materials, which has developed a unique technology and method of production. Fratelli Reifer Custom with Eberhardesign created Mizu, a wooden desk which presents itself almost as a big 4m x 2m sculptural piece: its shape flowing like a single continuous wave to form a seat, worktop and legs.

Pics: Achim Peter Reifer

Mizu is manufactured in Italy through an intricate process of craftsmanship in which 10 single layers of wood of 8m length each are bent three-dimensionally following an angle of 30 degrees. Completed with a fine surface in Canaletto Walnut, the table portrays elegant artistic value as well as functionality being fitted with all the required utilities. In order to ensure the high quality of the product, Mizu is strictly limited to only 9 pieces. Educated as a traditional joiner, the designer Eberhard Mitterrutzner, while shaving a piece of wood, was struck with the idea of creating a single continuous shape in wood without any junctions. With that conception and nature as an inspiration, Mitterrutzner started to experiment with pieces of paper

and investigated with working models. He gradually started with a simple shape and easily progressed to creating more complicated designs. In this particular case, he achieved the design by bending it around several times. Mizu forms the apt piece of artwork that combines function with art and design. It can be used as a desk in an office, a living room, in a lobby or even as a sculpture in a public space. Eberhard says, “My ideas just grow out of the moment and I let them follow with my instincts and thoughts. The outcome is what seems logical and beautiful to me. My goal is always to work on a timeless aesthetic and elegance. To judge if that is what I really achieved is up to others’ standards.”


Pics: Courtesy of Oeuffice

CLASSICAL ORDER IN MODERN TIMES KAPITAL COLLECTION Jakub Zak & Nicolas Bellavance-Lecompte, Oeuffice

Oeuffice was founded in 2011 in London as a collaboration between Nicolas BellavanceLecompte and Jakub Zak. Their work reflects an ideal of creating objects inspired by concepts in architecture and an innovative approach to material assemblages. Having gained much popularity, they have exhibited internationally with various galleries including Phillips de Pury in London, R20th in New York, Dimore Gallery in Milan and Carwan Gallery in Beirut. Bellavance-

Lecompte explains the key concepts behind their work, “Most of the collections of objects we develop are based on the idea of bringing architecture to a domestic scale. Ideas of assembling elements, structural materials and expression are always present in our objects.” Inspired from the columns of classical Greek order - Ionic, Doric and Tuscan, the three stools pay tribute and draw reminiscence to the architectural design placing it in a contemporary context by re-purposing them in a unique way. When asked about the Kapital collection he explains, “This collection is a series of limited edition tables and stools based on essential forms, reminiscent of primordial stone capitals and simple geometric assemblages commonly found in classical architecture. The structural elements have been isolated and re-worked in terms of volume and function in order to make it functional in interiors with a strong expression.” The concept

of the Kapital stools designed as a part of a series saw continuation towards the creation of the Kapital tables and also into an installation. For the occasion of Milan Design Week, an installation was curated from the design studio at Hotel Senato Milano, unveiling the new edition of Kapital tables, a collection of nine unique exemplars, each slightly different in shape and all handmade in Italy from solid white Carrara marble. These products, now a part of the permanent collection of the MET in New York and a collaboration with Hotel Senato, express the premises donating an experience towards design amalgamating with architecture. The Hotel with its new installation renders to be a new address in Milan to complement the city’s stylish downtown - a space that exudes creativity, rigour and a unique character with the stunning pieces on display.


product / international inspirations

Pics: Roberto Nino Betancourt

ARCHITECTURE FOR A DRINK Calici Milanesi Glassware Agustina Bottoni

Pic: Giovanni Gastel

Argentinian product designer, Agustina Bottoni graduated from the University of Buenos Aires before working in the fashion industry and acquiring an MA in Product Design at the Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti. Now based in Milan, her works have been exhibited at the Triennale Design Museum, Salone del Mobile, Maison & Objet and many others. Bottoni drew inspiration for the design of the Calici Milanese

Glassware from the works of Italian architect Piero Portaluppi. She mentions the lasting impact of visits to Milan imposed on her by the architecture of Villa Necchi Campiglio and therefore, this product pays tribute to the masterpiece built in 1932. Bottoni explains, “The residence was built for a prominent industrial upperclass family and it flawlessly articulates geometric shapes and volumes using the most exquisite combinations of fine materials. Its strong graphic compositions inspired me to create Calici.” “I was going for a stark contrast of shapes for each typology, so I first investigated with paper models to get a feel of how all the volumes would blend and how it would feel to hold it in your hand. We had to produce a few prototypes, experimenting with proportions until we corrected technical issues,” says Bottoni. The pieces are handmade in Italy using borosilicate glass. Calici was part of the Souvenir Milano project, and the components were also

presented at Brera Design Apartment during Milan Design Week 2018. Bottoni also fuses the form of the structure with an impactful social aspect of Milanese culture by paying homage to the ‘Aperitivo’, a daily ritual and a well-deserved pause in the busy city’s lifestyle, wherein friends meet for drinks and cocktails at the end of a workday. Hence, the product blends the architectural heritage of the region while being able to serve, catalyse and in turn continue being a part of the culture of the society. The series is also a creative, sensitive and subtle indication to the combined role society, architecture and products play in creating the ethnicity of a place. Bottoni concludes, “Architects have appreciated and enjoyed the reference to an Art Deco style. The beauty of Calici Milanesi lies in its immediacy, its shapes are a bit playful and it can easily be enjoyed without any explanation.”



After completing his Bachelor in Architectural Design from Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam, Van Embricqs won various awards, of which perhaps the most prized was the Red Dot Design Award. He started his own studio in 2013 and exhibited works on various occasions such as Salone Del Mobile 2015 and the Dutch Design Week in 2013. The initial idea behind Rising Furniture was to trigger the

Pics: Goran Turnsek

playful mind of the end user - Van Embricqs wished to revive the emotions that would encourage one to interact on a visual level. A prominent architectural inspiration was drawn from the skeletal bone structure referencing flexibility and rigidity at the same time, and often showing an interesting repetition in its pattern. Flexibility was offset with firm construction, and transformation became an important aspect in the work – allowing for every beam to turn around its axel and by repeating this playful behaviour, creating a volume. An astute example of this is the Rising Chair that was created by wooden beams transforming into a chair. “The design process included many small models and a keen familiarity with the material. True logic and honesty that can be found in nature became a part of this process. Once the hinge is placed and construction unfolded, it creates a certain angle that can then be adjusted. Once the right angle is created for all of the wooden

beams, a balanced product is created,” says Van Embricqs. Combining this flexible formula with the function of the product can result in a combination of closed surfaces and open structures that can be seen in the Rising Table. This design approach can be seen as a revolutionary idea towards flat-pack furniture, which can be aesthetically pleasing and convenient to store and use. The Rising Furniture can be stored against the wall or underneath the bed, thus combining functionality and accessibility with the designer’s perception of beauty. “An ideal product application would be of objects that can transform due to the modulations in nature considering weather changes. It becomes a combination of architecture and product design that is different every day. Minimalism and clean lines make the products contemporary and their playful and transforming behaviour is of the essence,” says Embricqs.


opinion / Adreesh chakraborty




As an architect, Adreesh Chakraborty practiced the design of space for a number of years before expanding into product design. Today, his firm, The Earth Home, provides architecture and interior design services and has its own line of products and furniture. On behalf of mondo*arc india|STIR, he references history and raises pertinent questions of who, why, what and how.

Flying Machine, 1909 Sketches: Adreesh Chakraborty

The magic of creating something out of seemingly nothing has won homo-sapiens the race for world dominance. We as a species have designed and crafted our way through history from prehistoric tools to gilded furniture to flying machines; our curiosity and inventiveness has given us the unfair advantage of ultimate superiority. WAR CHANGES EVERYTHING The Second World War is a particularly important event in the evolution of product design as we see today. Strange as it may seem that apart from killing more than 70 million people, flattening out whole cities and reshaping the entire political structure

of the world, this war started with 19th century rifles and cavalrymen and ended merely 6 years later with V2 rockets, the first computer and the atomic bomb. With almost all resources being delivered to the war front, cheap alternatives were required at home and it heralded the plastic and plywood age driven by a phenomenal surge in technological innovation and mass production. MASS PRODUCTION AND DESIGN Henry Ford had already shown the world the miracles of mass production, and during the World War organised production efficiency achieved new highs with a Liberty ship,

the SS Robert E. Peary being assembled in under 5 days. Mass production required a completely new approach to design and the age-old traditions of hand-crafting and ornamentation crumbled away to make room for easy replicable design. With the end of the war came the baby boom. The technological achievements of war found their way into consumer products, made affordable with cheap materials, effective design and mass production. Designers took on the challenge of making them more desirable and innovative. A new breed of companies led at the forefront packing new technological innovations for homes in simple, easy and intuitive


V-2 Rocket, 1944

Egg by Arne Jacobsen, Late 1950

Fibreglass Chair by Eero Saarinen for Knoll, 1957

forms, giving rise to iconic designers like Dieter Rams. Rams, an architect and interior designer by education led Braun’s product and industrial design for more than 3 decades producing brilliant and simple everyday consumer goods. His 10 principles of ‘good design’ are still revered by design students and industry leaders. ARCHITECTURE AND MASS PRODUCTION While industrialisation and the Second World War changed the way products were designed and made, architecture was influenced more out of intellectual curiosity and a fear of ‘being left out’ than an actual industry demand. The ‘machine

for living’ philosophy helped develop and compile strict architectural standards but as an idea was as romantic as any of the preceding historic movements. The Modern movement produced many iconic buildings, but their brilliance lay more in their spatial articulation, scale and all the other qualities that were so heavily derived from Classical Architecture. That they were stripped bare of all ornamentation was more of an adherence to the machine aesthetic and brash rebellion rather than arising out of a technological need, i.e. that would require aeroplane surfaces to be aerodynamic. And though catalogue-homes like Sears did roaring business in the first half of the 20th

century and post war rehabilitation and other housing projects required homes to be quickly built by the authorities, mass production of homes did not manage to transform the construction industry the way it transformed the product market. Even ideas like the ingenious Kiosk K67 did not make a worldwide impact. There are a few glaringly obvious reasons for that. Firstly, mass-produced buildings faced immense criticism due to the lack of identity, spirit and context. They were bland and repetitive and quite simply lacked character. Secondly, architecture is a principle based on customisation - different projects have different sites, weather conditions,


opinion / Adreesh chakraborty

requirements, varied cultural idiosyncrasies, economic climates, materials and most importantly singular in nature. It cannot be mass-produced. Thirdly, a bulk of the construction is handmade; despite having a lot of pre-ordered and pre-fabricated parts and large machinery, the processes are still labour intensive. Today the industry relies on the ingenuity of architects and contractors to customise large parts of the process while integrating pre-fabricated materials and components within their designs, ironically, even within a mass housing project. ARCHITECTURE AND PRODUCT DESIGN Architects have designed products, more out of a willingness to flirt with possibilities beyond the construction paradigm. Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona chair and Charles Eames’ chair and ottoman have impressioned themselves on the minds of every designer and user alike for the better part of a century now. What is interesting to see is that product companies worked with architects not to create ease of production, but rather signature pieces that would set them apart in the mass-produced mayhem. These pieces were not easy to make and took way more handcrafting and customisation than the manufacturers would have bargained for. Even though a lot of such pieces were replicated across

the world, the brood of such designers from Arne Jacobsen right till Zaha Hadid have always pushed the boundaries of materials and production techniques. Perceiving architecture as product can be a tricky business. Though architects do not mind designing products, some can get uncomfortable thinking of a building as a product. The idea that the building can be a mere container meant for profit keeps them debating about the nobility of their profession and their contribution to society at large. However, purely from a design perspective, it depends on where one draws the line between the two. A good product has to be intuitive to use. Products that include technology require to be even more so, as their form can literally be anything, given that their basic functions are met. If the user-manual has to be referred to everyday, it is not a success. A good product should also animate itself in the imagination. Car designers draw heavily from the animal world to give life to the form; even when some of them are parked quietly next to the kerb and not necessarily yours, they seem to be asking you to take them out for a spin. Architecture can have these qualities as well like the now non-operational TWA Terminal or the Seed Cathedral by Heatherwick Studio, but a brilliant exercise in form wouldn’t necessarily guarantee an intuitive building.


Furniture by The Earth Home Pics: Courtesy of The Earth Home

EXPLORING PRODUCT DESIGN AT THE EARTH HOME As an architecture and interior design studio, exploring product and furniture design started with my partner Eena Basur and I creating our first home together. We had already collaborated on multiple architectural projects for murals and installations and designed exhibitions internationally, but creating products together really brought out the possibilities of a multi-disciplinary collaboration. Handcrafted at The Earth Home One of the first aspects that we looked at after forming The Earth Home was how the world has almost entirely shifted to the machine aesthetic. Decades of design development of mass-produced items has displaced the idea of quality, materials and techniques, to the extent that even customised pieces today thrive to look like mass-produced objects. What is particularly ironic is that the Indian market has been continually trying to achieve perfection with industrialised finishes in a labour-based economy, which essentially supplies handmade products to the rest of the world. The artisans who care and nurture the materials and who value their craft can bring the products to life. THE NOTION OF VALUE Mass-production has changed the notion of value. Products created today have a notional value of what looks luxurious today, and has almost negligible resale value. Compared to products, which are handed

down through generations and can today fetch a minor fortune in the antique market, products designed and created as massmarket are made to be replaced within a very short timespan. This ‘use and throw’ model cannot create the heirlooms of tomorrow. We, at The Earth Home, started exploring possibilities of creating products that could create the antiques of the future and could increase in value over time. NATURAL MATERIALS The world consumes naturally occurring materials from the earth and creates artificial materials that are made into products and then dressed with artificial finishes. These finishes might be seemingly low maintenance but they cannot be revived easily without redoing the entire processes. We looked at restoration processes of old pieces and realised that naturally occurring materials, which are used for finishes on natural core materials, last more than a lifetime and can be very easily revived. Moreover even if one uses and throws them, they stand a healthy chance of getting re-purposed or up-cycled. REPURPOSING STENCIL NEGATIVES We, at The Earth Home, love to look at a piece of wood left out after cutting a component and ask what it would like to be. Our aim is to transform the stencil negatives into beautiful legacy pieces, much like our prehistoric ancestors shaped rocks into tools.


The Atypical Designer At the crossroads of architecture and product design lies a plethora of possibilities that gives rise to unique objects, spaces, experiences and opportunities. Nishita Kamdar writes exclusively for mondo*arc india|STIR outlining the growing need for a complementary approach to design, and discusses the process of creation with a set of eminent Indian designers.




lighting, organizers & accessories








studio AVNI









Studio Nishita Kamdar is a multidisciplinary design practice in Mumbai, started by Nishita Kamdar in 2014. They believe in the simplicity of design to create beautiful complex spaces, which appeal to its social and physical context. The studio loves to create spaces that are multi functional, high on utility and sensitive to the requirements of the end user. Their philosophy revolves around the idea that architecture should not only look beautiful but also feel beautiful and appeal to the other senses of human beings.

Nishita Kamdar Pic: Courtesy of Nishita Kamdar

Mies van der Rohe once said: “A chair is a very difficult object. A skyscraper is almost easier. That is why Chippendale is famous.” The world of design is purely humancentered, where the focus is upon the people who are to use it - space or product. Architecture is a form maker, problem‐ solver and environment‐creator; product design does the same at a micro level where engagement of the user plays a pivotal role. Various external forces also play an important part in the conception of a design: the relation between the end product and the environment, time and era, social context and resources available. As designers we design empathetically for the end user - be it architecture or product design. Product Design is but Architecture at a smaller scale. Product design extends an architect’s ability to use their creativity, eye for immaculate detailing and multidisciplinary approach to respond to a specific environmental requirement. It is common for architects

to find no furniture in the market that can respond to the need of their designed spaces, and so, developing a product inspired by the shape, form, and structure of the building is one practical solution. This also provides an opportunity for architects to take personal control of the interior environment. An architect’s enhanced level of involvement with product design within a building has the potential to increase the cohesive identity of a structure. The need to be articulate and ‘in control’ often pushes them to design their space till the final nail. And thus to say that ‘Architecture teeters on the edge of Product Design and Product Design reflects on Architecture’ would be fair as the parallels one can draw between them are not surprising - after all, designing a piece of furniture/software/system is fundamentally the same as designing a skyscraper or designing a space, but on a much, much smaller scale. Make your idea intuitive in use, simple in design,

and thoughtful in construction, and you will have a winning formula - one that evokes positive emotions and makes customers hungry for your ideas. What significance do form, function, feel and appearance have in the everyday objects that we use? Every product creates a sensory experience for the user. We are constantly asking ourselves, consciously or subconsciously is the product pleasing to look at? Does it perform its prescribed task well? And along with this, we usually ask ourselves another question: How does it feel? Everyone has encountered products that simply feel wonderful to hold and use. And we have all touched products that have felt just plain wrong, even if they performed reasonably well. Everything else being equal, the sense of touch can determine the success of a product. The most commonly used tactile product today is the computer mouse. Had the curve of the mouse not fit exactly into the



socket of the human palm, had the buttons been spaced out more than the distance of the index finger to the ring finger, the humble mouse would have unknowingly been a difficult product to use. From Liebeskind to Jean Nouvel and Norman Foster to Massimiliano, an increasing number of architects are trying their hand at product designing. A great example to look at is the glorious Luder shelves designed as part of the Gridlock collection by Philippe Malouin. The brass scaffolding with the rough heavy concrete slabs is heavily inspired by Brutalist Architecture. In recent times, we have seen some fantastic collaboration between architects and product or furniture giants, which has pushed the boundaries of design and technology due to their individual expertise. This not only allows architects to venture out into ‘other’ avenues, but has also enabled them to have creative freedom. Be it Gehry’s iconic Cardboard Wiggle Side

Chair for Vitra or Peter Zumthor’s Salt and Pepper Mills for Alessi, architects are not shying away from approaching design at a smaller scale. The two disciplines lend themselves well to one another and share many of the same principles. Typically both involve an understanding of the context, understanding client requirements with ethnographic research, and building a narrative and visual vocabulary around the project. Then come the 3 most important steps - Simplify, Reject and Refine, not in a linear manner, but more of a cyclical one. As a design practice we too have tried our hand at designing products. As architects we often feel that a space needs the right kind of furniture piece or the right light or even the right door handle to compliment its surrounding. Thus, emerges the urge to create these products. Products in architecture have much to do with their tactility - the way they appeal

Wiggle Side Chair by Frank Gehry Sketches: Nishita Kamdar

Stonehenge Visitor Centre by Dental Corker Marshall

Luder Shelves by Philippe Malouin

Centipede Table by Studio Nishita Kamdar


Centipede Table by Studio Nishita Kamdar Pics: Nishita Kamdar

to the human senses - thus creating their own association with the user. From the girth of the staircase handle to the height of your work desk, from the correct depth and resistance of your sofa to the silky smooth texture of the walls you touch everyday - all of it requires a calculated ergonomic study of the human being. Also, architectural projects can take from several months to years until completion - the immediate result of product design is what drives most architects towards taking the leap. A recent project we were commissioned required us to design 4 bespoke worktables for an office in Nagpur. A far cry from designing buildings and spaces where the concerns are more about the response to the context, this process required us to analyse the users, their behaviour, proportions and mannerisms to achieve the right scale and proportion of the tables that they would use daily. Suddenly, it wasn't about larger issues like circulation but more

about the emotion of the user. The jump of scale for us is what was thrilling. The notion of a conventional table with a heavy top supported on four legs seemed mundane. With the Centipede table we have tried to break the conventional image of the table by introducing tendril-like legs, almost like that of a centipede, with a heavy wooden top. The inspiration comes from the various architectural projects I was exposed to as a student as well as a professional. Once such beautiful project is the Stone Henge Visitor Centre by Dental Corker Marshall, where he created a striking illusion of an obstructed roof supported on tall spindly legs, thus making it look like a floating weightless structure. The Centipede table discreetly holds spaces to keep stationery and electrical amenities, and therefore looks like a seamless solid log of wood perfectly balanced on crooked and lanky copper legs, giving an illusion of the

table crawling away like a centipede. Irrespective of some of the parallels that one can draw, and how multidisciplinary the field of design is, I still believe that not all architects can design products and not all product designers can design architecture simply due to the lack of a knowledge base, skill and experience. To achieve a sense of perfection one needs to have a certain level of rigour in the job being done. Hence, someone who can understand space at a large scale (architecture) might not be able to understand the same at the micro level (product). It is but a collaborative effort between two skilled and experienced designers that would render a project more fruitful. Here we speak with architects and designers alike who have ventured into the creation of products – large, small, functional or utilitarian, all derived from an innate sense of architectural inspiration.



Sketches/Pics: Courtesy of Ashiesh Shah Studio

01 Ashiesh Shah Studio


ashiesh shah Cocooned within the colour and clamour of Mumbai city, Ashiesh Shah's acclaimed design studio is a limitless assemblage of design. His style of composition and functionality, inclination towards clean lines and simple forms, and passion for art and craft synthesize into his workspace, a center for discovery, distinction and design. Gravitating towards geometry, tangibility and technique, his design house is a process-driven think-tank, debouching with ideas.

As an architect what made you try your hand at product design? Design is such a broad concept it urges you to try your hand at all that it encompasses. For me, transitioning from interior to product design was a natural progression, encouraged by my clients who motivated me to push boundaries. Designing custom products such as lighting or furniture is something that I have been doing since the beginning of my practice, a passion, translated through form, function and material. What are the key challenges you face when designing products? I think balancing form and function is always a challenge, whether in interior

design or product design. When you design spaces, however, the canvas tends to be larger. With products, there needs to be a compact functional aesthetic, the art of which, I believe defines the challenge. What served as the main inspiration behind the Lingam Bench? The Lingam Bench was one of my first pieces belonging to a collection of similarly inspired furniture - it's clean lines and contrasting black and white marble ensured distinction. The lingam, a form unique to Indian geometry was the point of departure for this design. The iconic shape often associated with Lord Shiva is explored in its entirety throughout the collection of


furniture. Modern lines meet ancient Indian geometry to create a structure that is both a piece of sculpture and functional furniture. What is the process you follow from conceptualisation of the idea to production? Every product I have designed has its own backstory. I usually begin by sketching an idea and take it forward through a series of alterations, modifications and sampling. After prototyping, I tend to tweak materials and finishes before I push them for production. For me, a balance of proportions is crucial; every product has to speak visually and also have functional harmony.

In retrospect, should architects design products or should product designers, design spaces? I think simple things from architecture like structure, materiality and function are key components of product design. Both have a similar composition with an unbounded difference of scale. Design is extremely open-ended, mouldable and adaptive. We have for centuries blurred the boundaries between design fields with architects designing products and product designers trying their hand at space design. In retrospect, unbounded designers have and continue to create shifts in design, unique to their own perception of scale. The beauty of the field is an array of limitless possibilities, means of exploration and self-expression.




Drawing: Courtesy of StudioHaus

Kunaal Kyhaan Seolekar studioHAUS is a creative studio run by Kunaal Kyhaan Seolekar that focuses on architecture, interiors and product design. Based in Pune, it functions as a collaborative space for thinkers, designers and architects.

Pics: Ritesh Ramaiah

SPINNING TOP & FLOATING TABLE As a trained architect what made you try your hand at product design? Designing at a more human scale for product and interiors is what is more challenging and thrilling to me as opposed to designing at a larger scale in architecture. The obsession to meticulously design, experiment and detail every element has allowed me to create KOY,

a homeware and furniture brand that reflects my aesthetics and design style, but more importantly, it is an extension of my contemporary architectural background. Does the architecture of a space influence the products you design? As architects we are constantly trying to push the boundaries with thought


provoking ideas, finding different ways to innovate with materials, textures and form. The ‘Spinning Top’ table does exactly this - the inconspicuous construction of the object challenges the typical notion of a dining table, and is an engineering feat in itself. The smartly designed, single pivoted structure of the heavy marble top is cleverly masked with a lacquered body. Another such piece in the same space is the ‘Floating Table’. A simple slab of wood supported by transparent acrylic gives the object an illusion of floating over the steel kitchen counter. The distinct separation of materials in the kitchen island and the juxtaposition of warm, natural wood against cold polished steel makes a strong architectural statement as it is built directly into the architecture. Though these are loose products within the space, it is actually the products that inspired the rest of the design of the room. Making these architecturally sculpted ‘products’ the centrepiece was key, and hence the products inspired the architecture of the space in this case. In retrospect, should/can architects design products? Should product designers design spaces/architecture? I believe designers should design what they are passionate about. There are no limitations to design if the designer is aware of the scale, context and purpose of the design; then the sky is the limit, whether an architect or a product designer.




Nebula PVC Pics: PHX India - Sebastian & Ira

voyager lights

Pic: Vipul Mehra

avni sejpal Mumbai based, Studio Avni, headed by Avni Sejpal is a multi-disciplinary creative studio that focuses on the design and production of bespoke lighting, textiles, statement furniture, installation environments and objet d'art.

As a trained architect what made you try your hand at product design? My architectural education exposed me to various design disciplines and practices all around the world, and my international work experience taught me a lot in terms of entrepreneurship. This drove me to start my own studio in 2011 - Studio Avni. As an architect I was skilled at problem solving but with products, be it light, furniture or textiles, I liked the fact that I could control every tactical and sensory component attached to them. What are the key challenges you face when designing products? Streamlining production to maintain costs as well as efficiency is key. Therefore, often in my work, the modules are designed in a way that they can be easily multiplied by changing independent variables. However,

we feel that the bigger challenge is in finding the right clients who value good design; clients who don't perceive design as just another expense, but a worthwhile investment. What serves as the main inspiration behind the Voyager Lights collection? The Voyager Lights collection is a series of light sculptures drawing from explorative space modules such as the Pythagorean and Archimedean solids inspired from post apocalyptic sci-fi movies. The series is an experimental analogue of the architectonic design resulting in a possible semaphoric display of lights and extruded forms. Leo and Aether light modules explore fusions and extrusions of Pythagorean solids - the dodecahedron, composed of extruded forms of multiple platonic solids fused together.


Making of Leo



Nebula is a play on Archimedean solids such as truncated icosahedrons or geodesic globes, composed of geometrical extrusions in different directions. With a focus on materiality, the form is informed by the properties of the selected materials and the structural impact created by the material integrity. How do you achieve commercial and production viability for your products? The idea of fusing two or more platonic solids ingeniously generates permutations and combinations of forms that transform with multiple independent variables; variable elements being material, scale and extrusions. While the form is partially generated digitally and partly realised by physical explorations, the materiality of the product dictates the manipulation required to

calculate the counter balance weight. Each piece goes through a tedious nine-step process culminating into a piece that makes it commercially viable for us. In retrospect, should/can architects design products? Should product designers design spaces/architecture? Good design is fundamentally interdisciplinary. Architecture is generally treated in a more holistic way and incorporates all aspects of design such as research, experimentation, socio-cultural references, considerations for natural elements, inclusion of local crafts and sustainable materials, which have the power to create a deep and direct emotional experience. As long as the approach is holistic, goes beyond problem solving and has an emotional quotient, I don’t see why both disciplines cannot cross paths.

Hourglass Nebula Visual: Courtesy of Studio Avni



Sketches/Pics: Courtesy of Josmo Studio


ANJALI MODY Born in the heart of contemporary Mumbai and eclectic Goa, Josmo was founded by Anjali Mody in 2010 as a multi-disciplinary design house immersed in revolutionizing expression through design. While the practice remains dedicated to experimenting in the realm of furniture, lighting, products and spaces, it’s ethos centres around an ingenuity bound only by functionality.

BUNAI COLLECTION Why did you choose to design products? The magic of product design lies in transforming radical ideas into purposeful products – products that in fact, speak to you; details made to fit together, but more importantly, to fit you. Our philosophy is to blend ‘necessity’ with ‘artistry’. Through these creative efforts we aim to transform the arena of design in the country by opening India up to the world, exposing

it to new ideas, and more importantly, by opening the rest of the world up to India. What serves as the main inspiration behind the Bunai collection? The Bunai collection has been an on-going skill building initiative taken up by Josmo Studio in 2017 to encourage design through the re-adaptation of Indian craft practices. The collection is purely artisan-driven and


sheds light on the age-old craft of cane weaving with a more contemporary twist. Inspired by the cellular structure of the bamboo-cane family, the collection explores various organic forms that create a seamless flow of elements allowing functionality along with blending craft and industry. The collection is craft-centric. Hailing from an architectural background, the collection is inspired by the complexity of the bamboo cell structure, the simplicity of Le Corbusier’s architectural facade and the restraint designs of Nendo. What are the key challenges you face when designing products? We are faced with a constant struggle to blend the handmade with the machinemade; but the strive for perfection

GOLI Pendant Light

Pai Center Table

is endless and the acceptance of its imperfection is challenging. In retrospect, should/can architects design products? Should product designers design spaces/architecture? Yes yes and yes! Architects have the ability to focus on the macro aspects of things when looking at structures, whereas products allow the eye to zoom in and appreciate the details. There is great merit in building this skill. The exploration of multiple variations of design also allows for experimentation of materials used in unconventional ways. Building materials might be used for products, whereas products might take on an architectural persona through trial and error. I find the blend extremely fascinating.

Roti Pendant Light



Licon 01 Pics: Andre J. Fanthome and Team GOMAADS

lighting, organizers & accessories

GOPENDRA pratap SINGH GOMAADS is a product design studio started in 2013 which sculpts lifestyle products in concrete. They believe in reviving a material as ordinary as concrete, typically only used in building construction and translate it into creating decor objects. The practice takes pride in its quality craftsmanship and refined design and is an effort to get one acquainted to the beauty of raw textures and minimalism.

As an architect/designer what made you try your hand at product design? As architects we were always mesmerised by the raw beauty of concrete as a material and strongly believed that its true potential was yet to be explored. The diversion from large scale architecture to a more intimate scale of product-making gave us the satisfaction of seeing our work come to life much quicker and got us all fuelled to get our hands dirty and start casting. What are the key challenges you face when designing products? It takes a certain discerning clientele to appreciate the rawness and austerity of concrete as an everyday lifestyle product material. Therefore, marketing our products is a big challenge as India is still

opening up to contemporary aesthetics where people are still apprehensive about using concrete. Having said that, there are ardent loyalists, who enjoy the material and its textures. What serves as the main inspiration behind the collection of trays? One of our most well received and versatile products are the organizers, which are a set of multipurpose trays of different sizes that can be placed anywhere from your desk to your dining table. We primarily do a wide range of utility products like coasters, stationery holders and cutlery trays as there is a great demand for products that can be used daily. We draw inspiration from Le Corbusier’s sculptural exploration of concrete to Tadao


Ando’s clean and sophisticated renditions coupled with impeccable craftsmanship. The way this translates into our products is very subtle and almost intangible, as we believe in the simplicity of form and simplification of functions, much like the modernists. What is the process you follow from conceptualisation of the idea to production? As a brand we consciously design products that have a certain usability value and are not solely decorative, hence we follow an intense research regime right from exploration of form, finish, creating moulds and finally casting the product. Our travels to various biennales and exhibitions also open up our minds to what is trending

and helps us get a better understanding of the market. In retrospect, should/can architects design products? Should product designers design spaces/architecture? The design field was formalised into architecture and product design only post the Industrial revolution and today, in our world of collaborations, the ‘designer’ is a team and no longer an individual. Therefore, we believe that creativity and design thinking does not require us to be slotted and type-casted as architects or product designers. A designer should be able to design everything. It is no wonder that the best designers and architects in the world are self-taught without any formal education.

Mesa Bathroom Range


Stuco (S)




Drawings: Vibhor Sogani

06 vibhor sogani studio

Pic: Shailan Parker


Pic: Shubra Mudgal

VIBHOR SOGANI Delhi based industrial designer Vibhor Sogani’s studio engages itself in a wide range of creative graphic, retail and product design projects. Being one of the foremost light designers in India, his lights border into lighting installations, and are an eclectic mix of delicate handcraft and industrial production techniques.

What made you try your hand at product design? Frequent travels with my father who was a geophysicist exposed me to diverse landscapes, rural scenarios and cultures, thus, creating mindless and imaginary stuff amused me. My formal design education at NID integrated design with my way of life and thinking, giving me a clear sense of direction. It is here that I was exposed to various design disciplines, and invariably product design found me. What is the role of a product designer in today’s world? A product designer has to play a multifaceted role - from understanding the project or product to creating a tangible 3D object that has a definitive function. In the process one has to thoughtfully combine technology, ergonomics, aesthetic, function and other factors while leading it up to the market. To be able to design successfully

each time, the designer has to literally get under the skin of the client/subject and comprehend the requirements in a pertinent context. The journey of creation is always a bit of a roller coaster ride. There is usually a long phase of deliberation and even frustration, but that is what leads to creation; the joy of which is immense. Challenges never lie in the process of design and development; it is the complexities attached to managing people, administration, finances, or ‘the business of design’ that is a challenge. What serves as the key inspiration behind the ‘Fold’ light series? The ‘Fold’ light series was recently launched at the Light and Building exhibition in Frankfurt. It derives inspiration from the traditional Japanese paper-folding art of Origami. Sometimes when form takes centrestage, geometry


gives way to a viewing experience that is akin to meditation. The unique feature here is that each form is crafted out of a singular sheet of stainless steel, portraying the folding process of origami by creating a diverse set of seemingly unfinished forms marked by minimalism. The series is a visual representation of dynamic possibilities, where each of the products can be looked at as being part of a continuum. Each fold emerges out of meticulous thought and completely alters the resultant form and its visual meaning. On adding light in the inner folds, these mirror-finished pieces with copper leafing form an ocular symphony that can transform into a centrepiece. In general, life around us poses varied trigger points that are inspirational. My work is influenced and abstracted from elements around me and a literal translation has never worked for me; I look for layers and for the abstract.

Pic: Vibhor Sogani

What is the process you follow from conceptualisation of the idea to production? The best way for me to start a project is to sit back and enjoy the flight of imagination, which I derive through solitude in or outside my studio. My efforts are minimal and simple because I believe ‘less is more’. I feel this tends to make the outcome more timeless and not confined to an era or any particular trend. Conceptualisation often does not result in the final design. The process involves observing the product from multiple aspects and continuously tweaking its scale, materiality and application so that it attains a disparate personality and optimum production quality. Often, scale models are created to better understand the formfunction relationships. Available technology also plays a critical role in the final stages of decision-making. The simplicity and ease of this aspect can lead to consistency in results thereafter.

Pic: Shailan Parker

In retrospect, should/can architects design products? Should product designers design spaces/architecture? Many great architects have successfully and effectively dabbled in product design – Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster, and Ron Arad, to name a few. It goes to show that the realm of design is colossal. Of course, the diversity of design domains and the larger intent of design education do not restrict the process of design to any one domain. Training adds to expertise, but often, the multi-disciplinary nature of design works successfully. While the fundamentals of design are similar in each domain, its details and execution differ. A certain degree of work needs to be done and time needs to be dedicated to experience the production of design ideas, be it a product or a space. Conceptualization may be inter-disciplinary, but execution is not. Thus, architects can design products and product designers can design spaces as long as the quality of work is not compromised.


product / chidori, east japan project, japan

TRADITION & TECHNIQUE In a collaboration between architects and local craftsmen, Chidori furniture was designed by the Japanese architecture office Kengo Kuma and Associates as a revival affect after an earthquake in Japan. Meghna Mehta of mondo*arc india|STIR shares their intention to take traditional design concepts and their application to the contemporary way of living.

Pics: Courtesy of Kengo Kuma & Associates

Sketch: Kengo Kuma

While concrete, glass and other modern materials have taken over the design and contemporary world, Kengo Kuma’s work with wood, inspired from an old Japanese toy to create furniture products as well as architecture comes as a fresh breeze of innovation. As an attempt to rejuvenate traditional techniques, and the art of building solemnly with the hands, this product represents an ideology of conserving heritage and applying it to modern times. The East Japan Project is a collaborative initiative between designers and traditional craft artisans from eastern Japan, with the purpose to propose ‘The New Lifestyle’ as a concept design post the Tōhoku earthquake. ‘The New Lifestyle’ refers to a way of life that is deeply rooted in the locality, which is another name for the system in which every aspect of a place climate, culture, and people, is integrated in a natural way. This system is believed to have disappeared in the urbanized society of the 20th century with its pursuit of efficiency and convenience. After the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake in eastern Japan, the

EJP initiative revisited this lost system and reevaluated its implications for a modern society. Their attempt lies in reversing the course of the 20th century and reviving the notion of the place through collaboration with craftsmen. Yanagi Muneyoshi who led the mingei (folk craft) movement of Japan in the late 1920s once called the Tōhoku region ‘the land of handcraft’. In the framework of the EJP, the products are conceptualized as new types of daily tools with a deep appreciation of local craftsmanship and material and are to be part of a larger product portfolio called ‘location’. The project is intended to raise money from the profit to support the next generation of artisans and to acquire and maintain the skills of traditional crafts, thus creating self-sustainability. As part of this initiative, Kengo Kuma and Associates designed the ‘Chidori’ collection of furniture to offer support to these communities devastated by the earthquake. Chidori hails from the small town of Hida Takayama and is a flexible composition developed from the joint system of old Japanese toys called Chidori. These are









Assembly Sequence


02 Step 01x2




06 Step 05x2





Drawing: Courtesy of Kengo Kuma & Associates



product / chidori, east japan project, japan

made as an assembly of wooden sticks with joints that have a unique shape. They can be extended by merely twisting the sticks, without any nails or metal fittings. Driven from the traditional system of this Chidori toy, one unit of Chidori Furniture consists of 12 timber sticks with different junction details. Each modular unit of Chidori Furniture can be connected from 6 sides, thus offering numerous combinations. There are 5 components designed for the entire assembly, 3 kinds of sticks with their individual joineries. The vertical and the horizontal sticks have joineries that fit into each other and the connectors are used for pushing and twisting to lock the puzzle-like joint form of the sticks in place. The shelves to be placed over this grid and the extender keys are the other two components. By simply twisting the sticks without the use of any additional fittings myriad possibilities emerge for the components to be formed into anything from a table to a shelf, to even an architectural wall. The unique junction details of the system require a very high level of craftsmanship, which can be found in the highly skilled

carpenters of the Tōhoku region. Their employment in these projects not only revives the craft but also enables selfsustenance and encourages engagement to give back to the society. Kengo Kuma explains the East Japan project as; “The New Lifestyle is a way of living to reverse this course of the 20th century when the notion of location had been lost. What we present is not at all exclusive or pretentious traditional crafts, but are ‘new types of daily tools’. They are the equipment for ourselves to take part in a larger circulatory system called location.” Kengo Kuma strongly believed in the revival of this old technique as can be evidently seen in the design of the GC Prostho Museum Research Center as well, where the project was developed on the basis of the Chidori system. For the building design, Kuma says, “This architecture shows the possibility of creating a universe by combining small units like toys with your own hands.” “We worked on the project in the hope that the era of machine-made architecture would be over, and human beings would build them again by themselves.”


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product / touring japan


the ARCHITECTURE OF HAPPINESS Mridu Sahai, curator and anchor of Dtours India, takes us through a design expedition to understand the evolution and the relationship between design, art, and architecture, referencing examples from the land of the rising sun. She pens an exclusive review for mondo*arc india|STIR.

“A door handle is the handshake of a building.” This adage was coined by architect Adriana Natcheva, and the interesting factor to note about the remark is the relationship that it conveys between product and space, the tactile and the intangible. The two fields are often taught in the same institutions as specializations and share a multitude of similarities ranging from their philosophies to the design process followed, leading to an ample amount of overlap - where we have industrial designers working in retail space and light architecture and architects making furniture or modular systems for housing. Until the 1800s, any skilled person could be practicing as an architect, dressmaker

Tokyo Skyline

or a product craftsman through reading, apprenticeship and self-study of the subject – polymaths like Leonardo da Vinci are examples of this. However, with the advent of the Industrial Revolution, the product designer’s role became an established one. Nevertheless, all architects from Corbusier, Mies to Aalto continued to make their own furniture. This was not just to try their hand at a more intimate scale but out of sheer necessity, for it was impossible to find furniture on the market that could respond to the ever-changing needs of their modern clients. Hence, by default, if there was any product that could not be sourced, it was created. Alternately, in the product design/ art sphere – explorations into space making

seemed like an obvious choice in order to ensure that the subject/object is viewed and consumed in its intended context and therefore we have designers such as Philippe Starck, Karim Rashid, Marcel Wanders and even Olafur Eliasson venturing into the realm of space making and architecture today. The future of the creative field commands the need for collaboration and integration between all design spheres. Design today needs us to be all-encompassing and we are almost returning to where we started. With such a wholesome design philosophy, Dtours India curated an architecture and design tour of Japan, which was a representation of this phenomenon, especially for the discerning traveller.


Tokyo Sketch: Arnab Swargiary

As we journeyed to the land of the rising sun, we understood quite metaphorically why it was called so. Japan was everything and more than what one could imagine – the culture, visually and otherwise, beautifully exhibited through various indigenous concepts from Wabi-Sabi beauty in imperfection, Miyabi (elegance) – eliminating anything that is vulgar, Shibhi (subtle) – things are most beautiful when they are not loud, to Ensou (the void) – infinity and nothingness. Every object, space, environment and aesthetic was so inherently Japanese that one not just marvelled at their clarity of thought but the translation of it into physical forms. Japan is a beautiful example of how a value system has been rendered into a visual material culture – architecture, art, craft and design. The interconnectedness between the physical and the philosophical is very pronounced here – there is calmness in people and there is calmness in art, design, and architecture. It is also pertinent to mention, that unlike most cultures where crafts have been left behind due to various reasons, craft in Japan is

178 Prada Aoyama, Tokyo by Herzog & de Meuron

still at the core of everyday life. And it can be found everywhere – clothes are crafted, products are crafted and even construction is a craft and not a mere building activity. Architecturally, the country is a fine example of how tradition can evolve seamlessly into modernity, how identity and cultural rootedness have developed with the times and technology. Some of the finest examples of nature and architecture integration exist in Japan – from entire islands being dedicated to art and its appreciation to natural light being celebrated to the utmost, so much so that opening times of buildings were dependent on it. Japan enjoys a beautiful synergy with nature and with simplicity being at the helm of everything. An intense week long expedition of a group of 15 people, a vibrant mix of artists, architects, designers, entrepreneurs and students, began in Tokyo. Tokyo had wonderful examples of how architects and designers collaborate to create exemplary experiences. The Omotesandō Avenue is one such destination, which has the highest concentration of buildings by acclaimed

21_21 Design Sight, Tokyo by Tadao Ando Pics: Courtesy of Dtours India

contemporary architects for all fashion and lifestyle labels. These include the Christian Dior store by Sanaa, the Prada Flagship store by Herzog & de Meuron, Hugo Boss building by Norihiko Dan, the Coach store by OMA and many others. Also in Tokyo, is the 21_21 Design Sight museum – put together through a collaboration between renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando and fashion designer Issey Miyake. The building by Ando highlights the latter’s concept of ‘a piece of cloth’, and devises the idea for the roof of the structure as a single sheet of folded steel. The people associated with the museum add to its vibrant mix - the three directors of the museum come from various realms of design - Issey Miyake, the fashion designer; Taku Satoh, a graphic designer; Naoto Fukasawa, a product designer. Our stint at Tokyo was followed by a bullet train to Kobe to visit the Water Temple by Ando along with a traditional Japanese Zen garden. Enroute Kobe, on the Shinkansen train, we were treated to a view of Mt. Fuji, the highest peak of Japan and an active volcano. It definitely lives up to its reputation of being the most perfect and iconic mountains of all. After a day of architectural appreciation at Kobe, we headed north to the mountains in the Kansai region to visit the Museum of Wood Culture, a rare gem in the middle of the forest, designed entirely in wood by Tadao Ando. Everyone participated in a Japanese wooden toy-making workshop conducted by a Japanese carpenter. The museum’s toy making workshop offered us the unique experience of the traditional craft of toy making in Hyogo and the tools

21_21 Design Sight, Tokyo by Tadao Ando Sketch: Arnab Swargiary

Museum of Wood Culture, Kansai by Tadao Ando


The Secret of the Sky by Kan Yasuda at Benesse House, Naoshima

used for wood cutting, crafting and carving. This was truly one of those remarkable things to strike off one’s bucket list. Heading to the art islands of Naoshima and Teshima, we came to face an entire region that hosts less than 3000 people and the island that houses primarily museums and art houses, where architecture literally teeters on the edge of art and design, and the same reflect on architecture. The Chichu Art Museum or the underground art museum and the Teshima Museum of Art were clear winners. They serve as fine examples of collaborations between artists and architects, where the spaces have been customized to house the art and not vice versa. Chichu holds the incredible works of James Turrell, who truly invites and

Teshima Museum of Art, Tonosho by Ryue Nishizawa

Time/Timeless/No Time by Walter De Maria at Chichu Art Museum, Naoshima

immerses one into his works that present art as synonymous to architecture; Walter D Maria, whose magnificent pieces are as enthralling as intriguing; and artists like Monet in a setting that is larger-thanlife. This is perhaps the only museum in the world where Monet can be viewed in natural light! In the neighbouring remote island of Teshima stands an art museum, which is in itself a single piece of art (architecture?), designed by Tokyo-based architect Ryue Nishizawa (Co-founder of Sanaa) and Japanese artist Rei Naito. The Teshima Art Museum is a sculpture (building?) in itself, nestled amidst rice fields, a silent contemplative structure that transcends one onto another plane altogether.

Afrum Pale Blue by James Turrell at Chichu Art Museum, Naoshima

After ferrying and cycling around the islands, we headed to Osaka. Our last day was spent in this cosmopolitan city. Some treated themselves to local cuisines and markets in the Namba region of the metropolis, while others chose to go to nearby Kyoto to see more traditional temples and Zen gardens. Maybe it was the mix of people, the curation of our tour or just plainly, the vision of the collaborative, creative industry of Japan, where nothing is segmented or absolute in its manifestation. The Japanese have long acknowledged the apparent relationships of all creative fields, in processes and principles and perhaps this is why they successfully continue to be indigenous, original and avant-garde!

Dtours are design tours aimed to spread awareness of architecture, design, art and culture through travel. We feel that architecture, design and visual material culture are best understood when experienced. We also feel that shared and collective experiences are more meaningful as they enhance the absorption as well as promote interaction amongst individuals. Dtours are driven by an inherent enthusiasm for design, culture and exploration. They attempt to inform, align, engage and inspire the discerning traveller. We have curated some of the most inspiring and intellectually stimulating design tours for people with curious minds and a desire to learn by experiencing the visual material culture.


Pic: Shantanu Prakash

Just the other day I was having a rather animated and intense discussion with two fellow artists on how technology is changing the way the new-gen approaches how they learn and work. The observation of one of my friends, a teacher at a Mumbai based architecture college, is from close quarters. “I was aghast when one of my students replied in a very matter-of-fact way when I asked why they prefer watching a movie than reading a book,” she shared. Any guesses? It is sad and simple – “One has to imagine too much while reading a book! Something that is easily provided in a film.” This phenomenon is applicable to consuming just about anything, especially in the creative space. The biggest joy of seeing art, for instance, is its discovery and interpretation. And if this very thing about it is the pain-point, then little can be done. As an artist with clay as my medium of choice, I know that there is absolutely no escape to dirtying my hands! I cannot avoid babysitting a kiln over a twelve-hour long firing process, and if it is forty-five degrees in the peak of summer, then so be it. The process of art production itself varies widely, most requiring tedious and meticulous renditioning. There are however art practices that utilize the ready-made as components for the work they create. Is the objective to simplify the very process of making art? While the use of the machine-made product to make hand-made work of art itself is not new neither uncommon, in this issue we delve into the overlapping spaces of art and product, in context of architectural spaces and design processes. Marcel Duchamp used the readymade, as did the Dada artists in as early as 1910. The idea was a mockery of art by teasing and rejecting logic and reasoning, and to critically question its value in a rapidly industrialized world. “The real point of the readymade was to deny the possibility of defining art,” said Calvin Tomkins, the biographer of Duchamp. In the contemporary context, is it the functional associations of the mass-produced objects that are relevant to artists? Or is it the visual form and texture of these impersonally manufactured things? Further, we investigate the vice-versa - use of art in the mass-produced (or at-least mechanically produced, in multiples) functional products. Johann Goethe called architecture frozen music. Dance, then, can be described as painting in motion. Sculpture, a section of prose. Crafting (or creating) is the basis of all art. Architectural and design practices are paying more attention to aesthetics along with functionality than ever. Are the lines blurring between creative disciplines? Maybe, the lines never existed and were only a figment of our imagination. Rahul Kumar Consulting Editor, Art & Interactive Media mondo*arc india|STIR

Pics: Courtesy of Subodh Gupta Studio


WHEN OBJECTS TELL A STORY The work of contemporary artist Subodh Gupta overlaps multiple disciplines and genres. Some of his most critically acclaimed projects use the readymade products as components of his art work. Rahul Kumar of mondo*arc india|STIR interviews him on his interest in using products and associated symbolism in his practice. The one name that emerges immediately in the Indian contemporary art context when thinking about ‘utilizing the readymade’ is that of Subodh Gupta. Born in 1964 in Khagaul, Bihar, Gupta studied at the College of Art, Patna before moving to Delhi. The primary specialization for his art education was painting, but soon he explored a wide variety of disciplines and media, like, performance and interactive art, video and photography, sculptures and installations. Gupta is best known for working with everyday objects. His iconic forms using stainless-steel utensils are one of the most recognizable works. His concerns as an artist are reflective of the universal issues of migration and equality and are a commentary on the socio-political development of our contemporary society.

(Edited excerpts) You have used the readymade (or products) to make art works and installations in the past. What has been the consideration in the choice of the product; is it the form and other physical attributes or the meanings and associations ascribed to the objects that play a role? I do use objects, or ‘ready-mades’, to make works but I would not say that my work fits-in completely with the readymade tradition as such. The first work for which I used such objects was titled ‘29 Mornings’ made in 1996. I used actual wooden patras (low height sitting stools made with wooden planks) that I remembered from my childhood home. I made this work even before I knew of the long history of using readymade objects in art. I would

describe my using ‘objects’ the same way as a painter uses his paints. The objects, stools and utensils are mere material to me. What is important is that the object itself is transformed in the art making process. Of course, the original function of the object becomes a part of the meaning of the work, but it is crucial that it has a new interpretation and often even a new form. In my recent work at the Bihar Museum of Art titled ‘Yantra’, the objects are part of a mandala and from afar one gets lost in the meditative pattern rather than instantly noticing that the elements making up the mandala are in fact functional household appliances. Here is another secret - many of the elements of ‘Yantra’ are not even readymade appliances, but rather replicas that were fabricated in my studio to


art & interactive media / profile / subodh gupta

Above and Right School, 45 brass cast stools, stainless steel utensils, 560 x 545 Cms, 2008 Facing Page Top Yantra installation in progress at Bihar Museum of Art Facing Page Bottom Left Yantra (side view detail) Facing Page Bottom Right Yantra, Steel structure, appliances, stainless steel utensils, 670 x 670 x 305 Cms, 2017

resemble the original appliance! Similarly, when I make a cast bicycle or stools, it is not the readymade object itself, but a point of reference. That brings in yet another layer of distance and disconnect from the readymade.

always hope to take the viewer past those prescribed notions about an object. I see art-making as a sort of alchemical practice, so if I have not managed to transform or elevate the objects from its original function in my work, then I have failed.

In continuation, what is the intended viewer reaction basis the associations they may make of the ready-made objects? When you use an object that already has a determined function, history and association for the viewer, that set of connections and connotations will add to the meaning of the work. In ‘Yantra’ for instance, these pre-existing associations play a particularly important role, as the work is trying to set up a contrast between the every-day, industrial objects and the cosmic, meditative form that they have become a part of. However, ultimately when I make an artwork, I

Given that often these works are large scale, how do you approach the concept of space in contrast to the work? Do you make works, and then develop options to place/display them, or more often is it the vice-versa – create works in reaction to a specific space? How important is the sitespecificity and the associated contexts of space in your large-scale sculptures? This process really varies from project to project and I enjoy the different challenges that arise when making large public sculptures. I have done many projects where I develop the whole idea for the work after seeing the site, but often I have a few preexisting ideas of works that I am interested


in making and certain concepts become particularly relevant to the site that I am presented with. Referencing ‘Yantra’ again, I did have a general sketch and visualization of the artwork almost a year before I got down to making it. However, I had no idea where and how realistically the work would fit. When I had the opportunity to make something for the Bihar Museum, I knew almost immediately that it was the perfect place for this work. The work fits very well in the site, not just in terms of scale, but in terms of the relationship that Bihar has with modernism and development on one hand, and Buddhism on the other. The best works arise when the themes that are being tackled in the artwork also fit-in well with the history and politics of the site where the artwork is installed.

Adda / Rendez-vous, a retrospective of Subodh Gupta is on at Monnaie de Paris, France between April 13 and August 26, 2018.


art & interactive media / material matters

MATERIAL MATTERS Rahul Kumar of mondo*arc india|STIR handpicks six creative individuals who wear many hats and straddle two (or more) worlds at one time. They are artists. They also make products. They break conventions by using materials that normally associate with industrial mass-production. However, most importantly, they are creators of objects that symbolise and materialise the intersection of their interests.

There are those who like to operate in water-tight compartments: Art practices, like folk, modern, contemporary, conceptual; Designers, for products, apparel, accessories, interfaces; Architects, of buildings, landscapes, environments, experiences‌and so on. We handpicked six creative individuals who wear many hats and straddle two (or more) worlds at one time. They are artists. They also make products. They break conventions by using materials that normally associate with industrial mass-production. However, most importantly, they are creators of objects that symbolise and materialise the intersection of their interests.

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art & interactive media / material matters

CONCRETE NITIN BARCHHA & DISNEY DAVIS Studio: Material Immaterial Established: 2016 Location: Mumbai

Who Partners Nitin Barchha and Disney Davis are architects by qualification with 15 years of experience in the field of architecture and design. Their studio is established on the principles of exploring the bare beauty of materials. As designers, we are essentially minimalists and our design approach has always been of ‘what to leave out’ rather than ‘what to put in’. This reduction process is what takes one through a mirror, emerging out on the other side to discover richness, like in the subtle differences between five shades of grey or in different textures of concrete. Through our work, the studio strives to challenge the purpose of material and lets design be at the helm of things. What We love working with concrete. We also experiment with papier-mâché, wood, brass, and occasionally with marble. In the initial stages of design development, a lot of time is put in detailing the product. Then comes the next stage of prototyping. Usually, after multiple iterations, a final prototype is arrived at, which is then used to make a mould and then final concrete products come out of these moulds. At each stage a continuous to-and-fro process is followed until a satisfactory result is achieved. This helps us achieve a fine product at the end of the process. We usually work with multiples or in limited editions since we aspire to make our products more accessible. We also customize products for client specific requirements. These could be in the form of installations or limited-edition custom designed pieces. The product range includes curios, doorknobs and handles, and wearable art-like jewellery.

Why Many of the best and most influential buildings of the last century are constructed with concrete, from LeCorbusier’s quintessentially modernist Villa Savoye to Frank Lloyd Wright’s spellbounding Falling Water, and from Oscar Niemeyer’s defining Brasilia, to Tadao Ando’s exhilarating Church of the Light. Hence, concrete became the material of choice to express our ideas. Also, we have always been working with concrete as a material in some way or the other and were very conversant with the processing and handling of it. Besides, concrete is a very versatile material and can take different forms, finishes, and tints with great ease. How The intent has always been to captivate the viewer by the sheer possibilities and beauty of a humble material such as concrete. To get the necessary effect we intentionally keep the bare concrete finish and the original grey colour as the final look of our products. The desired reactions are visible when people see our products for the first time and they are truly captivated by seeing concrete put to the most unexpected use. Our practice focuses on design and thus to ensure that the importance of this principle is maintained at all times we truly believe that Material ‘is’ Immaterial. Where We retail our work through select physical stores across the country and online through our website.


“To get the necessary effect we intentionally keep the bare concrete finish and the original grey colour as the final look of our products.�

Pics: Courtesy of Material Immaterial


art & interactive media / material matters

Paper ANKON MITRA Studio: Hexagramm Design PL / Oritecture Established: 2007 Location: New Delhi

Who Ankon Mitra is an architect, landscape designer, and origami artist. He has taught Origami Architectonics and its applications at IITs, NID, NIFT, SPA in India and a number of colleges abroad. Recipient of the AllIndia Gold Medal for Sculpture in 2018, he has shown his work at exhibitions, globally. What Our first love is paper such as elephant hide paper and banana fibre paper, but our preferred medium is any sheet material that can be folded. Secondary casting processes help take the folding technique to even those materials which cannot directly be folded. Beyond paper, the studio has worked with a diversity of materials like sheet aluminium, brass, steel, leather, polypropylene, fabric, wood veneer, clay, glass, brick, and even sedimentary stone. Each medium requires a nuanced way of working - metal is not folded like goat-hide, and goat-hide is never folded like paper. When the studio is commissioned to make bespoke products or sculptures, unique and one-off works are created. Otherwise, we aim to create small batches of limited edition works. Why As an architect, I am drawn to architectural materials and origami lends itself very beautifully to sheet metal. The natural flap, lock and friction of paper techniques do not work in metal and are replaced either by some kind of joinery or by simple prosaic nuts and bolts (or rivets). Folded paper highlights and creates a play of light and shadows, a paper of a single colour appears as though that sheet already had a large family of variations of that colour hidden within. Folded metal has all these qualities

and also the additional beauty of refraction and reflection, a thousand variations of sheen and lustre, and for that reason, the transformation of a flat sheet of metal into a folded artefact proves to be a truly magical experience. How As an artist, my strongest desire is to evoke in the viewer a sense of wonder at the connections between folding and the universe, and the beauty that mathematics and geometry encompass within themselves. These are not the dreary formulae of our schoolbooks. They are omnipresent underlying structures that order the natural and physical world. This obsession with a single technique and subsuming oneself in a near complete absorption of its multidimensional possibilities is not unique to me as an artist. Materials can be used additively or reductively. A sculptor of marble chips away at the stone revealing a masterpiece hidden within. His is a process of reduction. A ceramic artist builds up a sculpture by adding clay, tearing it away, adding more again, until he is satisfied with the form in culmination. This is a process of both addition and reduction. But Origami does not add or remove - it merely creases and folds the material. It is an act of transformation. Where We do not retail our products at the moment but are working towards making it happen in the future. Works can currently be procured through art galleries in India or through direct requests to the studio to create commissioned works. We also sell through the Paper Artist Collective in Europe.


Pics: Courtesy of Hexagramm Design PL / Oritecture

“Origami does not add or remove - it merely creases and folds the material. It is an act of transformation.�


art & interactive media / material matters

Clay AMAN KHANNA Studio: Claymen Established: 2016 Location: New Delhi

Who Aman Khanna, a graphic artist, illustrator, sculptor and a visual storyteller, graduated from London College of Communication in 2004. Thereafter, he worked in the city for a year and then set up his own design studio ‘Infomen’ in London in 2005 and ‘Infonauts’ in New Delhi in 2009. His style comprises quirky characters and iconic forms. What Clay is our most preferred medium as it provides complete freedom and it can be moulded into any shape or form. I like to address my thoughts and observations by giving a form to them. This also helps me to make peace and sometimes come to terms with those emotions. But at other times the opposite happens, I would hand mould a clay-face, for instance, and it would just look like a feeling I have had, and I would instantly give it a name. I personally like hand moulding. We have throwers to make works on the wheel and production in multiples. Why Over the past three years, I have increasingly gravitated towards clay, the most common and ancient medium used by humans to create everyday objects. Clay has added a new dimension to my work. With this medium I began to explore the third dimension, creating small clay sculptures that are inspired by my surroundings and the people living in them. I call them Claymen. Claymen are now divided into two broad categories:

functional and non-functional products. They are not strictly mass-produced because everything is handmade. Therefore, no two pieces are exactly the same, which makes them unique. My idea was to make art affordable to everyone yet keeping it authentic. How Claymen objects add aesthetic by taking it away. They simply are what they are: a celebration of a style that lives at peace with its own little imperfections. These clay men emerge from a careful observation of the common man and his dilemmas. They are peaceful, contemplative, and quiet. While going through their own existential crises they are mere witnesses to the fact that we constantly have feelings, whether we are conscious of them or not. The expressions on my sculptures capture these emotions. And my viewers relate to them based on their past experiences. I mostly see a big smile on their faces when they come face-to-face with certain works; it’s like a self-reflection. I feel Claymen is unique because it is very personal. My sculptures celebrate the grey area that exists in the overlap of art and design. Where We retail through our exclusive gallery cum shop at The Dhan Mill in Chattarpur, New Delhi. We also have an online store. In addition, select collections are available at multi-brand stores globally.


Pics: Courtesy of Claymen

“Claymen is unique because it is very personal. My sculptures celebrate the grey area that exists in the overlap of art and design.�


art & interactive media / material matters

METAL ALEX DAVIS Studio: Alex Davis Studio Established: 2004 Location: New Delhi

Who Alex Davis, a mechanical engineer who moved on to complete his Master’s degree in Product Design from NID, Ahmedabad as well as Domus Academy, Milan. After a stint in Milan at the Stefano Giovannoni studio working with Italian companies like Alessi, Magis, and Cartel, Alex moved back to India and established his practice. What We work with metals, especially stainless steel, black-steel and copper. The process involved in making our works varies from rough, initial form studies to a highly skilled handcrafting, as well as advanced machining and mechanical finishing. Most of our product-range is in limited edition and revolves around specific themes and concepts. We enjoy commissioned projects and the largest installation we have done is a site-specific 32 feet Champa tree. Why Being an engineer and a designer, sheet metal always fascinated me. The art of turning a 2D sheet into a 3D form was the challenge I enjoyed. Hence followed my collection titled ‘My Lazy Garden’. This collection comprised of archetypical flowers and trees that acted as beautiful accents for indoor and outdoor spaces. I call this ‘jewellery for living spaces’. This was followed by coloured steel that created large floral forms; I named this collection ‘Hyper Blooms’. And then the ‘Moonlit Safari’ after my trip to Africa - I made animal

heads out of steel sheets and tubes. A range of sculptural furniture also forms part of some of these collections. How Our work is inspired by nature. And people, especially in urban context, react very well to these pieces because nature plays a role in everyone’s life and therefore everyone can relate to it. When I amplify nature and make it large and use steel to create these pieces, they become objects of desire. I believe art is an expression of one’s thoughts and each one of us is unique. I was possibly one of the first to convert industrial steel sheets and tubes into objects of art. The material has an association with domestic utensils and for highly sensitive areas of medical practice since it offers durability and hygiene. I found this connotation interesting but wanted to take it to the next level, that of beauty. Stainless steel works well being similar to mirror with no colour of its own, unlike other metals such as brass and bronze. Where We retail exclusively through the Indi Store, which is on the same premise as my studio in New Delhi. Some of the product range is available off-the-shelf, while others are made to order. I also showcase and sell works through art galleries and at international design fairs like Maison et Objet in Paris, Salone Del Mobile in Milano and Abitare Il Tempo in Verona.

Pics: Courtesy of Alex Davis Studio


“When I amplify nature and make it large and use steel to create these pieces, they become objects of desire.�


art & interactive media / material matters

TEXTILE GUNJAN ARORA & RAHUL JAIN Studio: Threadarte (as an extension of garment manufacturing unit) Established: 2004 Location: New Delhi

Who Duo Gunjan Arora and Rahul Jain established a studio that began as an experiment to deal with textile waste. It became Arora’s unique language that evolved in forms and matured in its sensibility with time. They are educationists and speak at various design institution like NIFT and Pearl Academy of Fashion. They have extensively exhibited their art with private art galleries and at design fairs. What In the larger picture, our medium is textile or rather textile waste, which ranges from materials like silk, cotton, linen, jute and steel yarns, and occasionally textile shards. The use of steel has helped induce strength to large-scale works and also initiated a journey of sculpting textiles. Since we like to be true to the cause of upscaling rejected textiles and threads, our process starts with collecting these from handloom weavers across the country, spinning mills and ateliers of fellow designers. This is followed by the sorting of yarns based on colours and textures before they are washed and stored. Desired threads are then spread on a flat surface and hand knotted or sewn to create compositions. Owing to the nature of the technique involved and limited stock of the same threads, it is not possible to do multiples of the same, however, we do work in series. Most of the larger works are created on commission.

Why Being from the fashion and textile trade, the medium of threads came naturally to us. The technique we discovered and developed was an outcome of dealing with waste from our own atelier. What began as an experiment in 2004, evolved into a fullblown vocation and form of expression. The practice is unique and the works have been applied not only as wall art but also in the form of applied-art as space partitions, window art and more recently even as lighting solutions. How People are awestruck by the very technique of the artworks and the colour schemes. With time, we started getting a reaction on the forms and compositions. For commissioned requests, we absorb to an extent what the collector wants and also like to objectively review the intended site for the work to make it worth the space. Threads in various capacities have moved beyond the realm of textiles. Through our practice, we intend to speak of upscaling textile waste without screaming out the word ‘recycle’. Our works blend-in and add a sense of calm and create a conversation. Where Both our ‘art-to-wear’ and framed works are available for purchase at our studio in Chattarpur, New Delhi. Works can also be procured through a few art galleries and agents besides being available online with select aggregator platforms.

“Through our practice, we intend to speak of upscaling textile waste without screaming out the word ‘recycle.”


Pics: Courtesy of Threadarte (as an extension of garment manufacturing unit)


art & interactive media / material matters

GLASS RESHMI DEY Studio: Glass Sutra Established: 2017 Location: New Delhi

Who Reshmi Dey is an Economics and Maths graduate from Assam. She learnt the basics of glassmaking at the Centre for Development of Glass Industries, Firozabad in 2000. In 2001, she was introduced to the studio-art side of the medium with the Czech artist Petre Novotny and studied on a scholarship at the International Glass Centre, UK in 2002. What Glass remains my favourite medium to which I have devoted many years. Dominated by the glass-blowing process, I selectively employ other processes like flame-work and casting to achieve desired results. When I began my journey with glass, I just wanted to make an element, an object, playing with colour, texture, form, and process. As I developed my practice, I started to structure my thoughts to show the beauty of the element in the best possible way. Sometimes I make a piece and let the piece stand for its own beauty. And for certain works, I club together multiple components to make an installation. I enjoy working on customised projects based on the space and requirements of my clients. I now have a fully equipped studio and my focus is a design-based approach to making glass objects. My studio is also heavily focused on creating awareness and imparting training to the uninitiated in the process of glass blowing. Why I have been chosen by the material instead of the other way around! I feel glass has life in it. To work with glass, you really need to

develop a relationship by understanding its nature, strengths and limitations, almost like human relations. Also, glass offers you to work with different processes. Each process is unique and results in varied finishes. The process is intense and complex, requiring working with red-hot molten glass at temperatures as high as 1150 degree centigrade. Even after so many years, it does not cease to surprise me with its immense possibilities and beauty. How My aspiration is to have the viewers resonate with my work in the very first instance, bring a smile to their face, and then to question the process with wonderment. Often viewers are fascinated with the materiality of glass – reflective and delicate. I attempt to communicate the inherent qualities of the material, that of transparency, translucency, opacity, reflection, refraction, and viscosity. Glass practice involves science, technology and skill, and then eventually one’s own artistic expression. The immediate association of glass is of mass-produced functional objects such as tableware and electrical/lighting solutions. However, a studio practice like mine is not involved in ‘producing’, rather we ‘create’ each piece. Where We do not retail our works as yet but are in the process of launching a limitededition retail line soon. Currently, works can be procured from the studio in Chattarpur, New Delhi.


Pics: Courtesy of Glass Sutra

“I attempt to communicate the inherent qualities of the material, that of transparency, translucency, opacity, reflection, refraction, and viscosity.�


art & interactive media / profile / thukral & tagra

“The moment we define our practice, we are dead,” says Sumir Tagra when I asked how they would characterise the “art practice” of the duo under the name of Thukral + Tagra. Their work is researchbased, often conceptual, multi-disciplinary, almost always experiential, but above all, experimental. Their ‘Think Space’ at a residential complex in Gurgaon, not far from their studio, is surrounded with their art, Mac computers, and team members, a sort of a mix of a gallery and office space. We sip on homemade lemonade over an intriguing discussion.

Pics: Courtesy of Thukral & Tagra studio


THE INCORRIGIBLE DUO A collective that refuses to be typecast, Thukral & Tagra have partnered to produce monumental works that evoke contemplation for the viewer. Rahul Kumar of mondo*arc india|STIR speaks with Jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra about their journey so far. Jiten Thukral was born in 1976 in a village near Jalandhar, Punjab. He graduated from the Chandigarh Art College in 1998 and enrolled for a Master’s programme at the Delhi College of Art in 2000. Sumir Tagra, born in 1979 did his Bachelor’s degree at the Delhi College of Art in 2002, where the two met. “We met at Delhi College of Art at a ragging session. Thukral was my senior and I was in the queue to submit my application form. He spoke to me as an applicant himself, innocent, as if someone who knew nothing about the college,” shares Tagra. They became friends and discovered a similarity in objectives, that of breaking away from the traditions and trends in the art they wanted to produce. Later, they worked together at an advertising agency but Tagra moved on to do a Master’s program at the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad. “It was a tough call for me. I had a well-paying

job, and to leave that to study was not an easy decision,” he says. They had already embarked on a journey of working together. The first formal collaboration was an e-magazine, launched in 2003. It was available through a web portal they established, called After the first three issues, the project was abandoned. Gallery ecosystem, they feel, only supports when the art produced is sale-able. They realised that the final work had to be something that could hang on walls. “Our first show under the name Thukral & Tagra was in 2006. We wanted to continue with BoseDK, but our gallerist, Peter Nagy, wanted that to change,” says Thukral. “We are always keen to respond to shifts and are rather comfortable with keeping everything we do very experimental in nature,” he continues. Since college days, T&T, as they are popularly referred to, have been interested

in the idea of pushing a thought and looking at things with a new lens. They respect individual space between each other. “There are times when I may not fully understand or even agree with certain ideas that Sumir wants to pursue, but that does not stop him in any way to develop it further. Likewise, I get all the freedom to think independently. And at some point, things converge and we both bring it to fruition,” explains Thukral. This process of working together, layering the views of both, and finally negotiating aspirations in how a project will finally rendition is evident in their works. ‘Sound Sculptures’, for instance, is a series of factory produced porcelain vases. They studied the possibilities with clay, not technically, but visually. They imagined nonconventional forms, layered with imagery, and juxtaposed with customised metal cast components. “We ended up having the pigments sprayed on the surface to get


art & interactive media / profile / thukral & tagra

THE SOUND SCULPTURES The series is imagined as dream-set with ramifications about the past and the future. The Sound Sculptures have no real sound to it. The attempt is to twist the narrative with the absence of real sound waves. The material evokes certain emotions and lets the viewer imagine instances, triggering it with the imagery juxtaposed on the pieces. One can weave stories with their experiences. There is no present. We live in past or in future. Part of the series will be showcased at the First Indian Ceramic Triennial at Jaipur later this year.

Glaze fired porcelain vases with brass cast components mounted on ornate wooden tables, 2012


Memoir bar, 2016 Top Left Shredding of memory paper Top Right Tile moulding of shredded paper Right Memoir bar library of constructed tiles Bottom Illustration of a proposed permanent open-air structure to install memoir bars

a gradation in colour. Something that was not really attempted by the production unit ever. We are excited to be able to showcase a part of this series in the First Indian Ceramic Triennial at Jaipur later this year,” shares Tagra. Being visual artists, they do not see objects as material, especially in the context of using the readymade to produce their art. The aesthetics and physicality (form, colour, texture, scale) are more significant in contributing to the possibilities. “The readymade acts as a symbol as it embeds a particular history, cultural understanding, and timelines. These associations make the object rich,and its value can be weighed accordingly. We see these as objects of knowledge and try to use the pre-conceived notions for making a discourse,” explains Thukral. The core motivation is how the objects are finally used to convey a certain message and raise certain questions. Their projects vary in nature, sometimes


art & interactive media / profile / thukral & tagra


“We met at Delhi College of Art at a ragging session. Thukral was my senior and I was in the queue to submit my application form. He spoke to me as an applicant himself, innocent, as if someone who knew nothing about the college.” – Sumir Tagra

Above Play Pray, installation at Chatterjee & Lal gallery, Mumbai, 2017 Left Play Pray, installation at Bikaner House, New Delhi, 2017 Top Right Play Pray, still from a performance at Bikaner House, New Delhi, 2017

even demanding the physical involvement of the audience. The work and the approach are humble in essence. They are presented keeping in mind that the work should completely resonate with their process. “We procured 80,000 Ping-Pong balls from for a project titled ‘Set Point’, which was an extension of an earlier exhibit called ‘Play Pray’. The project culminated into a performative presentation. For another one we used empty Hershey’s bottles,” continues Thukral. The immediate idea of the function of the product being used ceases to exist, however, those connotations are still useful in deriving the meaning and evoking certain emotions for the viewers. They used the demonetized currency bills to create ‘Demonetization Bars’. And in yet another interactive project, viewers became an integral part of the very making of the work by using

personal memories as the currency. ‘Memoir Bar’ was created by visitors writing their own personal memories on paper notes. These were then shredded and based on the emotion of the memory, coloured plaster was poured into moulds to bury the shredded paper, creating a library of preserved memory bars. “We have several thousand bars now, safely stored away. We had proposed a monumental structure in the form of a paper plane to install these tiles for a specific location, but we are still waiting to find the right space and time for this,” says Tagra. For site-specific works, both the work and the space have to marry and sit together. There has to be a complete consensus. There are aspects of the site, like why was the site made, what does it say, how does it compliment any work, and what kind of work will fit the best.



DESIGN, A PRODUCT OF ART Ace designer Mukul Goyal recounts his journey and gives a glimpse into what it takes to design - product or art; in conversation with Mrinalini Ghadiok of mondo*arc india|STIR.


Have you witnessed the works of designer, Mukul Goyal – shiny, slender figures holding up the weight of a hundred books, contorted into yoga positions to open bottles of beer, sitting casually at the edge of a bowl, or perhaps stretched across the front of a door? The eponymous collection has put this versatile Indian designer on the international map. However, what one does not know is how this Metallurgy Engineer from IIT, Kanpur ended up being lauded not only for his tableware, barware, desktop and home décor products but also carved a niche for himself in the world of art. Visiting NID for a computer-related project, Goyal chanced upon the Product Design course and never looked back. He graduated determined to make a mark in leather goods, but the industry was booming, exports were stellar and, “There was no crisis, therefore, no innovation,” as he describes it. So he went off to the interiors of the country seeking lessons in traditional craft. The intimacy of designing and fabricating products at a small scale, and the prevalent social conditions offered him an invaluable experience. He returned a year later to his

The Devil In Me

Monkey Business Pics: Courtesy of Mukul Goyal

garage where he made fashion jewellery recycled from electrical components. Picked up by an Italian-Indian joint venture, he further honed his skills and within two years was promoted to the role of the General Manager. Overseeing the entire process from designing, prototyping, manufacturing, selling and even marketing, Goyal got a taste of everything there was to offer in this line of work. “Making jewellery made me deconstruct the design process; it made me more and more intuitive,” he says. Taking a break from the jewellery world, Goyal took off to Milan for a brief stint at the Domus Academy to reignite his passion for creating products. He returned to work with Michael Aram but soon started out on his own. Before long, he was catering to the Indian market with the homegrown brand Tattva, and followed suit with the ever popular namesake brand. In 2010 Goyal found himself restless, wanting to break away from the small product line. He was itching to experiment and the challenge he took upon himself was that of scale. “My first experiment was to take


Flying Locomotives

any one of my products and recreate it at a grand scale.” Thus, emerged the larger-thanlife Ma Belle in 2012. “It was difficult at first. I was used to keeping a close watch at the quality, finish and perception of the products I made. Here, the details were irrelevant, the flaws acceptable but the scale and its impact more important. I had to renegotiate these priorities and nuances,” he says. Having sold this piece within 3 months of unveiling it at a design show in New Delhi, Goyal started getting commissions. An interesting turn of events landed the designer with the proposition to develop a mammoth installation at the new Mumbai international airport. He had never worked with Gond art, knew nothing about mobiles and was now to design a kinetic work called ‘Flying Locomotives’. Delving himself into the process working with master artists, a year later emerged this soaring assembly of 700kgs of steel balanced at a single

Flying Locomotives

fulcrum – tubes forming undulating clouds from which were suspended fantastical objects rendered in exquisite forms, colours, textures and patterns. “The authorities asked us for a structural certification, which was impossible to achieve with such an organic form. What we eventually managed was to inspect all the joints electromagnetically to convince them of their integrity,” says Goyal grinning. While the Flying Locomotives was a response to a very structured brief, ‘Monkey Business’ and ‘The Devil In Me’, a recent set of works exhibited at ‘Transitional Spaces’ in Delhi, were highly intuitive. “I had some horns lying around with me and I was looking for a way to mount them on the wall. So I decided to plant a head in between,” giving rise to The Devil In Me. Monkey Business, on the other hand, was conceptualised in his mind with a more determined premise. “When society

changes and it is in transition, values keep it in place. It is an anchor. But what if the values themselves change?” This resulted in the three heads that nod to the virtues of speaking, hearing and seeing ‘no evil’. The simplicity of the works speaks for itself. “I have always wanted to communicate in a very straightforward manner, with no need for unnecessary intellectual output.” When asked how his design-work engages with his work in art, he is quick to respond, “I am a designer at heart and I still approach my ‘art’ as design. When some things become highly intuitive, that is when I consider it art; when you make it on a whim, that can be considered art, but most importantly when you make it with your own hands, that is when it is art. It is in the process of actually making it that you can engage with the work and respond to it intuitively. And that for me is creating art.”


art & interactive media / set, ania jaworska

SET at the Volume Gallery, Chicago Pics: Courtesy of Volume Gallery

IN FEELINGS LIE YOUR ANSWER The exhibition ‘SET’ by Ania Jaworska at the Volume Gallery in Chicago renders a thrilling smorgasbord of experiences in defining a new vocabulary of furniture design. Comprising of an array of objects with rings of domesticity, the series sometimes reminds of forgotten memories and at others, of chilling nightmares, as Zohra Khan of mondo*arc india|STIR discovers.


Unit 6 (Arm Chair)

Unit 4 (Dining Table)

“This is the type of furniture that makes you feel like a superhero,” says Jaworska, when I asked her to define SET to me, in a manner, as if I am a five-year-old. In reality, however, SET came across to me as objects of menace, alarmingly distorted and on the verge of busting, to reveal the spirit animal that each one has been hiding for years. Now, think of being surrounded by these every day. Simple and complex. Funny and serious. Known and unknown. SET is an intriguing body of work by the architect, artist and educator, Ania Jaworska, which brings together an interesting collective of contradictions. It is a series of eight pieces of furniture, except; it is everything, which

your typical furniture is not. Each ‘unit’ (as Jaworska refers to it) is a monolithic entity built out of slabs and cylinders in different scales and proportions. While slabs, made of wood and aluminium render themselves demure and meditative, cylinders composed of wooden pegs, plywood tubes and moulded fibreglass appear bossy and extrovert. A lacquered finish of crispy slick black unifies them in the encompassing white of the gallery’s space. “Respective units act and appear familiar, sharing common traits with well-known domestic objects as well as ambiguously recollecting visual references set in our memory,” says Jaworska.

The collection penetrates deep in the silence of the space where each unit, like a self-aware entity, creates a bold and a powerful statement. Merging the bounds between art and architecture, the products are abstract and sculpturesque and at the same time very relevant and functional. Here, when one unit shows a seemingly rhythmic pattern of the tubes dancing up and down, another looks like an assembly of lean soldiers standing upright in unison. Flat, bent, twisted, wrinkled, curled and folded – each unit manifests a sharp language of art that opens doors for diverse interpretations. When asked what has been the strangest or perhaps funniest comment that Jaworska


art & interactive media / set, ania jaworska

C R EDEN Z A the ‘precious’ keeper “The Credenza has an unarticulated front or back and does not have a definite side. The oversized platform functions in such a way that the cylinders never directly touch the walls. Since the sides are not articulated, it can be positioned away from the wall as a freestanding form. The credenza requires double the amount of space around it in order to allow the doors to open freely. This assures the separation of the object in space. Given the nature of a circular shelf and the visual importance and dominance of the Credenza, one might consider what kinds of objects occupy it. It is present in space, although hiding the belongings out of sight.”

Unit 3 (Credenza)

C offee a nd Side Table s the ‘stuff’ keeper “The coffee table is composed of vertical pegs and cylinders, which are of a certain size and are distributed accordingly. It can be used as a piece on which one can place coffee table books vertically between the pegs. However, the pegs are also close enough to comfortably support a book, tray or laptop lying horizontally. Similarly, for the side table, the pegs are 4” in diameter, large enough to position a coffee mug, a small plate, object or a lamp. In addition, one can even compose objects in between.”

Unit 2A (Coffee Table)


has ever received from her art discerning audience, she replies, “It [SET] looks like a rendering in real life.” While some units get instinctively registered as pieces of furniture, some require a keen evaluation by the viewer. A bent cylinder perched above a slab with four stunted legs is the armrest of a chair. A slab balanced by four enormous cylinders, one at each of its four rounded edges, is the top of a table. On closer examination, this act of seeing and acknowledging gets a tad unsettling. One of the units features two large and imposing vertical cylinders, a little taller than an average man’s height, that sit atop a low-lying platform. A giant, rounded structure with no visible traces of segregation creates a manner of surprise in the air. One wonders what good use could this be? Well, wait for it. SET contradicts the fact that furniture design has mostly to do with physical and visual comfort. It reveals what it is like to be around objects that do not fit in our frozen subconscious. A far cry from the familiar typologies of furniture that each unit references, a narrative unfolds that sets the stage for specific actions, behaviour’s and attitudes. “The true understanding of the furniture’s power is in its nuanced dimensions, proportions and finish. In order to know it, one needs to experience it,” says Jaworska. Arm Chair, one of her easily recognisable units had the most interesting reactions from viewers. “Men prefer it without a cushion, as they can situate themselves in a very powerful pose. Women prefer an armchair with a cushion, as you can wrap yourself in it and feel safe and separated from the outside,” she explains.

Unit 1 (Side Table)

Unit 6 (Arm Chair)

Talking about the production and assembly of the units, she adds, “While I fabricated most of the pieces myself in the wood shop with the help of my student assistants, the lacquer was done by a small refinishing shop outside of Chicago. The process of applying lacquer and buffing it to the mirror finish is very time consuming; and because of the nature of the forms, the pieces were lacquered prior to the assembly of the final objects.” An oeuvre that spans art, design and architecture, Jaworska’s works are experimental in form and experiential in nature. She uses ‘reductive use of form’ to create conceptual and spatial impact with familiar objects. “My work is a complex and nuanced exploration of the power of form, symbols and the influence of the built environment, that at once is inspired by, challenges and builds upon a broad spectrum of architectural history. However, through humour and presentation, it functions on many levels communicating equally to the architectural insider and general public,” she explains, touching upon her multi-disciplinary practice. Jaworska has put across critical questions such as ‘what is it that translates an object into a piece of furniture?’ ‘Is there any pre-defined mould that fits one and not the other?’ ‘Is it just the surface aspects like form, function and aesthetics that lends furniture its identity in space?’ Perhaps, as one experiences SET, one realizes it is nothing but one’s own conditioned psyche that visualizes and renders objects with a meaning in space. Ania Jaworska has rather built the right contradiction, with the right medium at the right place.


REVIEW / 16th VENICE architecture BIENNALE, venice, italy / SANJAY PURI



As the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale opens its doors to the world, eminent Indian architect, Sanjay Puri makes his way through this enigmatic collection of ideas, concepts, drawings, models, installations and most importantly, inspiration in the field of architecture. He words a special review for mondo*arc india|STIR.

A Nomadic Chapel by Javier Corvalรกn, Paraguay, South America Pics: Sanjay Puri


This is the 3rd Venice Architecture Biennale opening I have experienced consecutively, and it was definitely better than the previous two in every way. Based on the theme ‘Freespace’, the curators Yvonne Farrell and Shelly McNamara delivered an overall layout that in itself was very unique - creating an openness throughout. During the previous two Biennales, I had visited the Arsenale, which is the long building that houses installations by architects from across the world. It had always felt very closed and constricted. This year, all the windows were kept ajar allowing an influx of natural light, while doorways opened onto gardens at various points. For those who have not visited the Biennale, it has three areas of exhibits and viewing spaces. The first one is Giardini, where several countries have their own permanent buildings containing exhibitions put together by a curator from the respective country. The second is the Arsenale, a 1039 ft. long building with an area of 1,23,032.52 sq.ft. fitted with installations by various architects from across the world, usually selected by the Biennale curators. And the third is a series of spaces across Venice concurrent to the Biennale with different themes and exhibits, usually curated individually or collectively by various people.

Sanjay Puri with friends at the Biennale

The Morning Chapel by Flores & Prats, Barcelona, Spain


REVIEW / 16th VENICE architecture BIENNALE, venice, italy / SANJAY PURI

Unveil the Hidden by Arrea Architecture, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Landscape Architecture, Architecture Landscape by Peter Rich Architects, Barcelona, Spain

It is extremely exciting to see that virtually the entire city comes together to celebrate architecture. In every part of Venice, including the numerous boats that ply every minute, the airport, the railway stations, all have large posters and banners proclaiming the exhibition, its timings and its dates. While in India it is rare to find even an article on architecture in a newspaper, every international newspaper carries extensive coverage on the Venice Biennale – a result of numerous international press reporters swarming the city and its coveted exhibition. In Giardini, of the pavilions I visited, the Germany Pavilion seemed to have the most interesting display concept. Upon entering one only sees numerous black vertical panels. Titled ‘Unbuilding The Walls’, the message conveyed here is the fragmentation of the iconic Berlin Wall.

As one walks further they realise that the black panels are in fact rendered white on the opposite side with projects displayed on them. These ‘walls’ curve up from the floor fluidly creating a strong visual impact compelling one to see all the displayed projects. This, in my opinion, was the most intriguing installation of works. Another fascinating set up was at the Central Pavilion, which had an extensive display of models by Peter Zumthor, De Vylder Vinck Tailleu, Michael Maltzan Architecture, Bjarke Ingels Group, Caruso St. John Architects, Cino Zucchi Architetti, Assemble and Wang Shu. Each of the displayed models was constructed in different materials; the one of the coal mine was actually created with coal by Peter Zumthor Architects. After visiting the country pavilions in Giardini, I made my way towards the

Physical Presence by Angela Deuber Architect, Chur, Switzerland


Arsenal, which in the past has always been a more informative exhibition. Just outside of the entrance was a separate exhibition titled Vertical Fabric: Density in Landscape. This was Hong Kong’s contribution to the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale 2018. In many cities, towers are a choice but in Hong Kong, they are a necessity. How a highrise tower can generate free space was the underlying concept of this exhibit. 111 model towers by different architects were on display in the courtyard of a small Venetian house. Each of the participating architects was given the same template to work with - 360 square millimetres of space and a height constraint of 2 metres. There were extremely interesting concepts in some of these towers and I feel this exhibit is definitely a must-see in the current Biennale. However, the most interesting model was titled The Library of the World by Chu Karl Metaxy.

Skyward City by Atelier Global, Hong Kong, China

The Library of the World by Metaxy, New York


REVIEW / 16th VENICE architecture BIENNALE, venice, italy / SANJAY PURI

Within the main exhibition space of the Arsenale, there were several brilliantly created installations. From architectural drawings as an art form to small spaces built with eco-friendly and sustainable means, to meticulously curated works; everything was delightful to explore. A circular school model had animated people moving across its premise, which made one feel that the model was almost real. An incredible display of drawings by Peter Rich in a series of floating canvas-like prints was breathtaking. There was a model made of steel, which was in 3 parts that could be rolled away along guides to view the internal spaces. There were many other interesting models, unique display ideas and thoughtful interpretations of the theme ‘Freespace’ throughout the exhibition.

The Croatian Pavilion had an installation titled Cloud Pergola, The Architecture of Hospitality. This was an ethereal composition created by Alisa Andrasek and architect Bruno Juricic; definitely among the best displays in the Arsenale. One of the world’s largest and most complex 3D printed structures, this work is composed of 300kgs of 3D printed biodegradable plastic. The Pavilion of Chile had an amazing concept with an entire city mapped onto the model of a football stadium. In the outdoors a unique bamboo pavilion created by Vietnamese architect Vo Trong Nghia housed a seating area by the water. The Chinese Pavilion displayed an array of sustainable projects created in bamboo through models and drawings, of which the model by Philip F Yuan of Archi-Union

Cloud Pergola / The Architecture of Hospitality by Bruno Juricicć& Alisa Andrasek

Bamboo Stalactite by Vo Trong Nghia, HCM City, Vietnam

Cloud Village by Philip F. Yuan, Shanghai, China


Crosses Morphed Into A Tensegrity Structure by Norman Foster, London, UK

A Bench and A Cross by Carla Juaçaba, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

A Nomadic Chapel by Javier Corvalán, Paraguay, South America

Architects Ltd. was absolutely arresting. The Chinese Pavilion opened onto a garden with a stunning installation titled The Cloud Village, also by Philip F Yuan. The most interesting part of this Biennale, however, was the Vatican Chapels, which was a concurrent event. The Vatican participated in the Biennale for the first time and invited 11 architects to create chapels. Each of these chapels was situated within a forested area by the sea on an island called St.Maggiore. After the conclusion of the Biennale exhibition, each one of these chapels will be moved to places in Italy where they will become permanent buildings. Of the 11 chapels, three of them created rather peculiar experiences that were delightful in terms of space, light and perception. A must-visit is the chapel by Sir Norman Foster constructed in wood slats with minimal metal framing that angles and weaves abstractly within the landscape. The eccentric circular chapel by Javier Corvalan with a ring of wood that tilts up on one side to allow visitors to enter and see the cross against the sky was my favourite. A simple, large vertical stainless steel ‘cross’ mirroring the landscape and continuing into an elevated horizontal ‘cross’ along the ground, which becomes a seating bench was breathtaking in its simplicity and beauty. This stunning creation is by Brazilian Architect, Carla Juacab. Having visited the Venice Architecture Biennale repeatedly, I strongly feel that this year’s production is a must-see for every architect. The myriad experiences and explorations cannot possibly be summarized into merely a few words. Although I spent two full days exploring most of the exhibition, I would surely like to revisit it while it is on until November. Where else can one get such varied experiences and insights into design, all within walking distance from one another; and where else can one see an entire city celebrating architecture together.


review / salone del mobile, milan, italy / sandeep khosla

Bulgari Exhibit by MVRDV & Ivan Navarro Pic: Sandeep Khosla



MILAN DESIGN WEEK SANDEEP KHOSLA’S TOP PICKS Devouring the lavish buffet of design events, installations, products and innovations, Sandeep Khosla traipses through Milan as the city welcomes hordes of enthusiasts from the world over to its eponymous design week. Here is the exclusive list for mondo*arc india|STIR of some of his most memorable takeaways.

Sandeep Khosla Pic: Courtesy of Khosla Associates

A visit to Design week in Milan is invigorating every year. With so much happening in that April week, I always have to find the right balance between spending my time at the Salone del Mobile exhibits at the Rho Fiera Milano complex, the Fuorisalone events happening in the exciting design districts of Brera, Tortona and Vie5 within the city, and the numerous installations dotting old palazzos, piazzas and galleries in Milan. Within the halls of Rho Fiera, I also make it a point to visit Salone Satellite, an annual celebration of design talent under the age of 35, where young designers, many straight out of school show prototypes of products they are hoping to launch into the market. Here is a round-up of what caught my eye my top picks of Salone Del Mobile, Salone Satellite and Fuorisalone 2018.


review / salone del mobile, milan, italy / sandeep khosla




Pic: Marco Bello

Pic: Andrea Ferrari

The breadth of prolific designer Paola Navone’s work never ceases to amaze me. She is one of my favourite designers, and her 2018 collaboration with one of my favourite Italian brands, Baxter was expectedly delightful. In the Manila Outdoor armchair, Navone has minimized materials to enhance the decorative power of her design; the chair is stylized with an exotic silhouette, but in materiality is very simple and minimal. She has handpicked a few natural and contrasting elements - cane from Manila, oxidized copper for the structure and leather covered technical rope for the hand weave. A special tanning process and Indian ink dye were used to increase the leather’s colour-fastness to the light.





Pics: Courtesy of Neri&Hu

Designers Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu of the famed Shanghai-based practice Neri&Hu relook at the typical sofa typology, which is usually unwieldy and cumbersome. Instead, they break it apart into singular modules that can be put together in flexible ways. The back component takes inspiration from old textile looms while paying tribute to GAN’s strength as a textile brand. The vertical loom-like structure allows handmade fabrics to be hung as a backdrop, while an elastic woven strap serves as a support for the movable back cushions. The seat is also composed of separate cushions as well as a small wooden surface, which can act as a side table, each interchangeable for providing various configurations. The geometric indigo colour palette of the fabric is striking and therefore inspired the name ‘Lan’, which means blue in Mandarin.


review / salone del mobile, milan, italy / sandeep khosla



Pics: Courtesy of APPARATUS

I love work that has a narrative quality to it and Brooklyn based Apparatus’ new range of lighting and objects displayed in a charming bye-lane at Vie 5, Milan’s newest design district had me mesmerized. Creative Director Gabriel Hendifar cleverly retraces his mid-eastern origins by referencing jewellery and accessories from the past. The origins of the Act III collection is an intricate box with rich inlay in the Khatam style that his grandmother brought from Iran to the US as a political refugee in 1979. I was particularly impressed by the Median pendant lamps alabaster planes intersected by sensuous fluted brass forms. The Talisman loop sconce looks like a piece of finely crafted jewellery. It references details found in statues in the ancient city of Persepolis and is made of semi-precious stone beads pierced by finely fluted pins affixed to a leather-bound brass structure. I loved the tactile nature of these pieces, the sumptuous materiality and the sense of nostalgia and seduction that these objects bring while still being futuristic.





I found this exhibition by Vitra in La Pelota, a former sports hall in Milan’s Brera district, thought-provoking. Austrian designer Robert Stadler focuses on the social function of furniture in today’s society by placing current Vitra products alongside icons, prototypes, rejects and future visions. The exhibit makes us rethink the typical categorizations associated with certain typologies of furniture and how we may use and choose furniture in our digital age. Stadler creates a film set like display of Vitra’s iconic, forgotten and new characters, staying away from grouping them according to typology of use or their historical context. He instead clusters them according to their perceived personality traits and behavioural patterns in contemporary society. Each piece of furniture is seen in this exhibit as a personality or portrait grouped into nine different tribes in a fun and expressive way.

Pic: Julien Lanoo



Pics: Luca Rotondo

Architecture studio CLS Architetti and engineering firm Arup used a portable robot to 3D Print a concrete house in Piazza Cesare Beccaria. 'Constructed' on site, the 100 sqm. house was printed in 35 hours! The house features textured curved walls, a stylish living area, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom and even a roof garden. The concrete mix was squeezed through the robot's nozzle like toothpaste from a tube, and each section of wall was built from the ground-up in layers. The house interiors were surprisingly stylish and evoked a sense of nostalgia while still reminding me of the revolutionary technology used in its construction. The house has brought about a healthy debate about sustainability, affordability, speed in construction and its use for disaster zones as well as for the housing crisis. There is a video on YouTube showing the construction process, which is a fascinating watch. I was particularly intrigued to see that the house was constructed on an existing plaza without any foundations.



review / salone del mobile, milan, italy / sandeep khosla



Colourful Instagram feeds drew me to Museo Permanente, where French luxury fashion house Hermes had created seven monolithic and monochrome houses clad in Moroccan zellige, small square tiles made of glazed earthenware. This was my most immersive installation experience at Salone this year. From the moment I walked in I felt that I had entered a beautiful modernist painting while recalling the power of the forms and colour palette of Mexican modernists Luis Barragan and Ricardo Legorreta. Hermes presented their new line of objects, furnishings, fabrics and wallpapers within the colourful tile clad chambers conceived by architect Charlotte Macaux Perelman and Alex Fabry. The architectural compositions of the 7 chambers, the colour scheme and the display within were really a visual treat.

Pics: François Lacour



Pic: Courtesy of BVLGARI

In the heart of the Brera Design District, Dutch firm MDRDV’s installation transforms Bulgari’s iconic Serpenti bracelet into a spatial experience. Likened to a sort of bejewelled honeycomb, the vault-like interior demonstrates the vast possibilities of material combinations. Paired with a wall of mirrors, the space is dazzling and creates an infinite vault of beautiful and tactile detail. In a mind-boggling labyrinth that Chilean artist Ivan Navarro created in the same exhibit, the black and white pattern inspired by Bulgari’s 1 collection, is transferred to the walls, ceilings, and floors. Through a pathway illuminated by the rules of design according to Bulgari, the installation takes visitors on a journey to ‘follow the rules, break the conventions, capture the unexpected, and reinvent the rules’.




SALONE satellite @ RHO FIERA




Pic: Zsuzsanna Horvath

The Sila lamp caught my eye due to its kinetic, and feathery spatial quality. Hungarian designer Zsuzsanna Hovarth has experimented with laser cutting techniques on thin flat pieces of birch plywood to create a warm suspension light, which she refers to as ‘magical’ and ‘ghostly’. It is easy to see why - the delicate repetitive hair-like strands of birch move gently when someone passes by and the light source, a flexible OLED lamp is cleverly fused into the structure, making it almost invisible. I noticed two imperceptible strings on top of the lamp, which could be lowered or made more taught, creating variations of the original shape through the principle of gravity. The lamp is innovative in technique, ethereal in its presence, yet emits a soft and cosy glow for quiet corners.

Pic: Ville Vappula


review / salone del mobile, milan, italy / sandeep khosla



Pics: Courtesy of STUDIO MARFA

I was interested to hear that Florestan Schuberth and Janis Fromm, who refer to themselves as Studio Marfa, embarked on the Soma Chair as a college project while at the University of Hamburg. They have since worked on the prototype and the rigour of processes to make it ready for mass production. The classic lounge chair has been reinterpreted by the duo into a design that is honest in shape and material, strong in its appearance but reduced in substance. A continuous tubular stainless steel frame borders the chair and a single layer of natural and tanned leather is stretched, shaped, and hand stitched onto it. The seat is cantilevered from the cast aluminium base, giving the chair a lightweight, hovering feel.


Pics: Courtesy of kutleh


In Salone Satellite, I came across these beautiful sculpted vases made of layers of discarded or surplus stone used in construction sites. The project is the brainchild of Architect Rula Yaghmour and Jordan based stone fabricators A W Yasin and Sons. Kutleh literally means ‘block’ in Arabic and the designer has developed a technique of bonding and pressing layers of waste marble sourced locally from Jordan and Palestine into blocks of a new medium altogether. She has then sculpted these blocks into sensuous objects, even a chair. I was quite excited to see the series of organic shaped Kutleh vases, which so aesthetically show the juxtaposition, variety and beauty of the different stones of the region.The real triumph of this project, however, is not these objects alone, but the offering of a new material altogether which other artists, designers and sculptors can use as they please.



Yuji Okitsu

Pics: Tomoko Yamane


I got a chance to interact with young Japanese designer Yuji Okitsu, who had created a light installation called Focus out of different sizes of acrylic lenses that he had suspended like mobiles. The lenses behave differently during the day and night. In the day they capture the ambient light within the interior space and diffuse it in interesting ways. These flat and lightweight lenses also frame the surrounding scenery in every direction, creating multiple floating worlds. After dark, when the surrounding ambient light is weak, LED lighting devices embedded within their periphery illuminate and frame the scenery beyond the lenses. What I liked most was that the designer had managed to construct an ever-changing perception of space from day to night. These spatial objects also rotate gently in response to natural airflow and people’s movement, transforming into multiple configurations.





The city of New York came abuzz with international design at the recent Design Week. With events and exhibitions panning across the boroughs, acclaimed designer Reeta Gyamlani made her way through NYC x Design, ICFF, Wanted Design and other satellite venues making notes of her favourite picks, exclusively for mondo*arc india|STIR.

Reeta Gyamlani Pic: Courtesy of Farrago Design

Eighteen years ago I migrated from India to New York City to pursue a Master’s degree at Pratt University, and I have been professionally involved and personally invested in the city’s design environment ever since. As a furniture and interior designer, I am always seeking to hone my own craft without losing sight of the bigger picture. I have learned that it is imperative to keep my hand on the pulse of international design, no matter how far off from my own aesthetic it may be. Witnessing the craft and creations of my fellow artists has always been important, informative, and inspiring for me. So, when mondo*arc india|STIR asked me to cover the NYC design week, I was honoured to put my passion to work. As I began my exploration, I was rather surprised to learn that NYC x Design is only in its sixth year, yet it has made such strides in gleaning the world’s best and brightest in this mecca of invention and ingenuity that I call home. Initiated by the New York City Economic Development to

depict the presence and impact of design on the economic and social fabric of the city, the annual week includes an array of events that unite culture, education and entertainment across many disciplines of design. Programs include installations, trade shows, panels, presentations, and open studios in all five boroughs. It is safe to say that since it’s introduction, the NYC Design Week has become one of the industry’s most popular events. The intention is to merge disciplines (architecture, design education and thinking, digital and technology, craft, engineering, fashion, film, furniture, graphic design, manufacturing, interior design, landscape design, product design, theatre, urban design), and this year’s turnout succeeded in bringing the community closer and introducing a plethora of innovation on both sides of the stage. The city buzzed with colourful NYC x Design banners, as locals and tourists joined with their branded tote bags and endless

brochures. Everywhere I turned, there were heated discussions on the streets, in subways, cars, in restaurants – there was a tangible energy that transferred from the designers, through their formations, into the onlookers, and the cycle continued passionately. I targeted only a few of the events, as it wasn’t humanly possible to see it all. I, of course, had to pay homage to ICFF, apart from which I attended a few independent galleries, the Wanted Design Show and a smattering of street installations. An exciting overall observation was the broad and bold incorporation of colour. This city of the black and grey showed a fresh inclination toward bright hues. Teals, pastels, oranges, and ochres permeated the arena. From the products to the backdrops, colour was surprisingly everywhere. It reminded me of Ingrid Fetell Lee’s remarks about colour in her TED Talk - “We are attracted towards colour as it expresses abundance and is directly related to joy in a very primal way.” I was excited at the


Parenthesis Project, zU-Studio Pic: Courtesy of zU-Studio

immediate renaissance I felt taking over as I walked down the aisles of the Jacob Javits Center, bumping into wide-eyed industry peers and friends. We all agreed on one thing - there was new blood, new players and new directions. There was a strong focus on handmade brands that offered extremely tactile materials and surfaces. Despite the magnitude of the production, this year’s display possessed a carefully curated, boutique-style ambience that highlighted vendors of all sizes, styles, and status on a global level. Here are a few of my takeaways…

LOOKING UP AT LIFE - PARENTHESIS PROJECT Life in the city can be gruelling and through the mundane, we often lose perspective. Zu-Studio created a bench installation to address this conundrum. ‘Parenthesis’ re-imagined our posture to bring stillness and meditation in a crowded noisy space like Times Square. According to the designers, they are creating a new verb: re-lying, instead of reclining. Re-lying is meant to invoke pause and focus, encouraging breath and a new world perspective. The angular posture is beneficial for overall mental and physical health. The installation comprised of 7 pieces of furniture, each representing one of the 7 chakras. It was purposefully placed in a circular format to represent love and community, inspiring a collective meditative state.



AT THE ICFF LET’S GET DOWN TO THE BRASS TACKS! The come back of brass!!! Gold tones peeked from under the chairs, in cabinet hardware and inlays on tables. The contemporary furniture world has generally been partial to colder materials like aluminium and steel, but it was truly refreshing to see designers use warmer metals like brass and bronze to accentuate the hardware details of their furniture. It came across as a non-apologetic, bare-it-all, brass-ishere-to-stay sort of approach. Bold details, mixing brass with leather, brass-topped resin objects, wine holders that flaunted baubles of details…it felt almost like a contemporary take on the Art Deco movement.

Pic: Reeta Gyamlani

Pic: Reeta Gyamlani

Pic: Reeta Gyamlani

BRAZIL This year, there was a sweeping wave of design representation from Brazil, thanks to the Raiz project, a recent collaborative effort to showcase Brazilian Designers. Influenced by the country’s wooden resources, craftsmanship, and beautifully diverse culture, 12 design studios shared their work. Ranging from chairs to innovative wall pegs, the Brasilera left a lasting impression. Jedar Almeida, an award-winning designer from Brazil known for his rationality and geometry showed his ‘Bell’ chair. The piece was made with leather and brass to resemble a timeless sculpture, while his wine table sported a hand carved, precisely shaped wood top. Faro, another Brazilian design studio, showcased products with a strong architectural essence. Crafted with steel and covered with multi-coloured nylon rope, their ‘Laco’ wall hanger stole the show. Wall clips were displayed to convey the infinite possibility of patterns and arrangements. And again, brilliant colours shone through.

Laco Hanger, FARO Pic: Courtesy of FARO Bell Chair, Jedar Almeida Pic: Courtesy of Jedar Almieda


Luminaires by Larose Guyon

PRODUCT AND ARCHITECTURE The lines blurred between architecture and product, each drawing inspiration from the other. Architects used miniature project models to make jewellery, while classic jewellery silhouettes were reimagined as light fixtures. The fluidity amongst disciplines carried with it an exciting acknowledgement of broken barriers and newborn explorations. An example of such deviation was Zimarty. Started by two architects, it is an experimental studio that employs cuttingedge technology and innovative materials to create objects that blend architecture, geometry and natural forms. One of their pieces ‘Acropora’ was a miniature metal model of one of their life-size projects. Zimarty created rings and pendants from silhouettes within the model. Conversely, Larose Guyon took forms from jewellery and augmented them to create light fixtures. Baubles of light suspended, inspiring awe from onlookers. Some studios used industrial products to redefine today’s co-working reality, where any space can become an office or a workshop. To honour this changing landscape, Pablo Designs showcased ‘Corner Space’, a product system that provides privacy, light and flexibility. Corner space is a felt partition system that sits on your desk to create a visual barrier, which is fully equipped with inbuilt dimmable light fixtures and USB plug-ins to achieve any desired atmosphere.

Pic: Reeta Gyamlani

Pic: Reeta Gyamlani

Pic: Reeta Gyamlani

Pic: Reeta Gyamlani

Mondrian Collection, Zimarty Pic: Courtesy of Zimarty

Progress - Acropora Flower, Zimarty Pic: Courtesy of Zimarty

Acropora Flower, Zimarty Pic: Courtesy of Zimarty

Acropora, Zimarty Pic: Courtesy of Zimarty

Mosalas, Zimarty Pic: Courtesy of Zimarty

Zicube Play, Zimarty Pic: Courtesy of Zimarty

WANTED DESIGN SHOW I also attended the Wanted Design Show, which was incubated in an effort to initiate a collaborative conversation between international designers and design lovers. This show was staged at venues in both Manhattan and Brooklyn, speaking to its cross-disciplinary and inclusive mission. The show displayed the works of small design studios in early start-up stages as well as that of international design students. Ranging from lighting to small objects, Wanted Design was a self-evident testament to the impact design carries in everyday lives on a global scale. Here are a few designers and objects that caught my eye…

ITE, Studio Lani Pic: Courtesy of Studio Lani

STUDIO LANI Lani Adeoye, the founder of Lani studios, showcased a beautiful collection of lighting and tables inspired by her West African heritage. Made from metal rods, the forms took traditional drums and transitioned them into accentuated and complex sculptures while supporting the pieces’ functionality. Her ‘Talking Table’ won the Wanted Award. SISI EKO, Studio Lani Pic: Courtesy of Studio Lani

JILL MALEK Jill Malek is known for her use of mixed media, with which she creates multidimensional wall coverings and rugs. The ‘Natural Dimensions’ collection was a beautiful marriage between non-repeating printed textiles and hand-sewn felt. The collection consisted of four non-repeat patterns: Melt, Terrain, Babylon and Crack, each conveying an abstract, natural and uplifting sentiment.

ITE_X, Studio Lani Pic: Courtesy of Studio Lani

Rainfall, Jill Malek Pic: Courtesy of Jill Malek

Booth Layout, Jill Malek Pic: Courtesy of Jill Malek

Natural Dimensions, Jill Malek Pic: Courtesy of Jill Malek

Crack, Jill Malek Pic: Courtesy of Jill Malek


MITSUE KIDO Another young exhibitor at the Wanted show worth mentioning was Moshi Moshi. Started by Mitsue Kido, a Chilean architect of Japanese heritage, the collection was a translation of Origami. Made with ‘stone paper’, a natural, recyclable, heat resistant, and water repellent mineral paper, the lamps decipher the angular folded forms of origami to undulating edges and celebrate the flora in Latin culture. Being built on a system of a geometric grid allows the lamps to be used both as a table lamp or a pendant depending on its suspension. A Chilean flower inspires the Hana Copihue shown here.

Moshi Moshi Lamps, Mitsue Kido Pics: Courtesy of Mitsue Kido

SIMON JOHNS Trained as a fine artist, Simon Johns is a Canadian based designer who displayed his ‘Shale Credenza’ and ‘Trillium Lamp’. Shale rock exists naturally outside of John’s studio, where the rocks crack to form intricate and delicate layers. One of these formations was sketched and chiselled in solid ash wood to create the façade of his credenza. His Trillium Lamp, made with blackened ash wood and brass, represented a wildflower. Three delicate brass rings formed a canopy that reflected the light and contrasted with the columnesque base for stability. The light delicately peeked out of the canopy at eye level.

Trillium Lamp, Simon Johns Pics: Courtesy of Simon Johns

Shale Cabinet, Simon Johns

Trillium Lamp, Simon Johns



Frame7, Eggersmann Pics: Courtesy of Eggersmann

COLLABORATIVE DESIGN As we move from a private lifestyle to a more socially collaborative one, from sharing rides to sharing homes, we see the same co-operation in the creative arena. A/D/O Studio, which stands for ‘Amalgamated Design Studio’ and is proudly named after the team that designed the MINI to deal with a social issue of fuel shortage, was born in Brooklyn with the sole purpose of serving the creative community both locally and globally. A/D/O encourages conversations of people from diverse backgrounds by providing a work and build space,

hosting panel discussions and providing event venues. The collaborative space connects designers, fabricators, educators, researchers and investors to encourage cross-disciplinary creation. The same collaborative ideals were seen by companies that displayed products from different countries. Eggersmann, a German kitchen brand, launched its Frame7 at this year’s ICFF. Designed to appease the US clients whose preferences are set for more stone, the Frame7 combined old world craftsmanship with the latest in technological production techniques. The

drawers were clad with precisely detailed stone façades and the solid stone drawer fronts boasted a 7cm stone profile with a 45-degree mitred bevel that created a beautiful frame. Mexico was not far behind in the collaborative journey with La Tlapalería that showed at Wanted Design. It is a collective of designers with the goal of securing the cultural heritage and craftsmanship of Mexico by creating products with a high aesthetic, conceptual and utilitarian value using artisanal techniques. This year they showed the works of eight design studios


to create products inspired by the Mexican beverage culture. For generations, the tradition of sharing a beverage has been the opening of a conversation, an inclusion in a community. The designers used unique materials and forms to depict this heritage. From designing vessels to enjoy Sotol, a drink used for religious and medicinal purposed by the Tarahumar and Anazasi ethnic groups to beautifully designed glasses for your Torito, a drink made from sugar cane and milk, this collection was beautifully curated using hand-spun copper, pottery

Products inspired by Mexican Beverage Culture Pics: Reeta Gyamlani

and wood, all a celebration of the artist. Cheers, I say!!! Attending this year’s NYC x Design was unlike any other. I immersed myself in a new way, thinking more critically and observing more specifically than I had in years passed. My tired feet were vetoed by my hungry eyes and I soaked up the work in a new way, seeking out trends and thinking about my future readers – constantly striving to note what would resonate with them and attempting to put my personal preferences at bay, although I am not sure if that is ever truly possible. Writing this

while flipping through my endless and often illegible notes has been an ultimately rewarding journey. The through-line of my design excursion was “YES!” It was such a beautiful melting pot of skill, ambition, innovation, risk, inspiration, and beauty. I feel honoured to design amongst such an impressive collective of talent and to share my reflections. I hope you enjoyed the show!

Pics: Allan Wexler



NYCxDESIGN participant, Allan Wexler works at the intersection of art and design, using everyday objects as props to convey a message. Jemila MacEwan, on the other hand, conducts interdisciplinary experiments as a way to understand what it is to be human. Devyani Jayakar of mondo*arc india|STIR explores their unconventional approaches as well as the underlying nuances. NYCxDESIGN, New York City’s annual celebration of design attracted designers in droves from across the globe, showcasing over a dozen design disciplines. Amongst the participants were Allan Wexler and Jemila McEwan, whose works stood out at the intersection of art, design and even architecture. ALLAN WEXLER Wexler’s calling cards are, well…different. They give answers – numbered ones at that, to typical questions he may be asked at a cocktail party. They also maintain that he is ‘an architect in an artist’s body’. With such an introduction to the man, expect as much thought and innovation to have gone into his work as well. Of course, Wexler is a qualified architect. Except that he does not design buildings.

His portfolio consists of installations, sculptures, and two-dimensional works that explore the physical and human nature of architecture. With his interest at the intersection of art and design, Wexler seeks to examine and define the difference between design created by artists versus that created by architects and designers. He transforms everyday objects, which are available and known to us all - chairs, utensils, buckets, into works of art that have become synonymous with his oeuvre. “Can a painting of a chair also have the function of a chair? Can I sit on my painting?” are the kind of questions Wexler asks himself. Incorporating a sound understanding of the principles of gravity, stability, and movement as the basis of architecture, some of his works appear to be in defiance of the tried and tested - such as his complex

installation of the floating ‘Pratt Desk’, at the Pratt Institute in New York. Other works such as his ‘Coffee Seeks Its Own Level’ require the interaction of four people and are based on scientific principles learned in high school; more specifically, ‘water seeks its own level’. Combining an element of quirky fun with science, four coffee cups are interconnected through tubing. If one person alone lifts his cup, coffee overflows the other three cups. All four people need to coordinate their actions and lift simultaneously. However, Wexler doesn’t consider people’s interaction as an integral component of his designed works. Do people become products as they interact with the completed works? “I often don’t need to have people physically interact with my work or to use it in a kind of useful or functional way.


Facing Page Left Pratt Desk 2012, aluminium, chair, paint, commissioned by Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York Facing Page Right Plein Air Studio 2016, wood, canvas, hardware, drawing tools Top Left I Want to Become Architecture 2002, wood, drywall, paint, 108 × 66 × 36 inches (274.3 × 167.6 × 91.4 cm) Middle Left Interchange 2008, chairs, wood, paint, hardware, wax, 35 × 70 × 42 inches (88.9 × 177.8 × 106.7 cm) Bottom Left Co-Exist 2009, wood, paint, wax, 35 × 64 × 20 inches (88.9 × 162.6 × 50.8 cm)

I feel when the work is good, the viewers project themselves into the work. An empty chair can be occupied emotionally and intellectually. The audience or viewer fills in the gaps and projects him/herself into the work. If the work is engaging – the imagination of the participant becomes active,” he says. Wexler’s practice also operates at the crossroads of architecture and art. His landscape interventions titled ‘Staircase’, almost 30 years after its making, found its way into the woods only to disintegrate with the passage of time. “The staircase is a theme I have returned to many times. It is a theme that myth and biblical creation stories are made of; the physical need to raise oneself up into the sky and the metaphysical need to attain enlightenment. With our attempts at transcending gravity, we return to the earth and decay. Icarus flew too close to the sun and his wings melted,” he says. His works explore human activity and the built environment, as they isolate, elevate, and monumentalise our daily rituals: dining, sleeping, and bathing. Ordinary activities are turned into theatre by dissolving the boundaries between the fine arts and the applied arts, between furniture design, architecture and theatrical performance, between sculpture and interactive exhibition design and between the practice and the research of architecture. At the core of his work is experimentation with what we think we know: his work confronts us with our lack of knowledge of even the simplest aspects of our daily lives. At the NYCxDESIGN 2018 Awards, which honour outstanding products and projects in categories that span major areas of design, from architecture to interiors, products to accessories and craft to technology, Wexler spoke at the symposium titled ‘Intermeddling: At the Edge of Art and Design.’ “The talk for Intermeddling can be summed up by my calling card which helps to describe my overall work. It is a kind of introduction and summary of 45 years of my work in this space between art and architecture,” he states.


review / NYC Design Week, new york, usa

a taming, 2018 Pics: Jemila Macewan

JEMILA MACEWAN Digging a hole. A really big one. Think crater. Or walking across New York in a bodysuit with long fronds of grass waving out around it. For Jemila MacEwan, exploring the act, its physical demands, as well as the participation of viewers, is all part of her interdisciplinary experiments as a way to understand what it is to be human. MacEwan readily concedes that moving from Scotland to Australia as a child has shaped her sensibilities. “I think the best gift I received as a child was to be allowed to see the world from multiple perspectives. I had no trouble accepting contradictory explanations of the world. I’m not sure if this is an attribute of the flexibility of a young mind but it was definitely indicative of the person I was becoming. Being displaced from my birth country gave me an untethered relationship to the world and cultivated the non-possessive relationship to inhabiting the landscape that is present in all my work,” she says. Mac Ewan believes that the perceived division of art and design is commonly framed by describing it as a matter of intention. “I disagree with this argument on some level, as it supposes that the creator has the sole responsibility of assigning the interpretive framework by which the work must be seen. I believe recognising this

intersection has more to do with perception, and we should not feel limited by whether something has been labelled art or design in our interpretation or experience of it. I find the most useful frameworks are the ones that inspire the most curiosity.” MacEwan even wore a rather special bodysuit, to record the reactions evoked by passers-by who interacted with it. Her creation straddled a physical, tangible space between art and product. A six-hour durational performance with 29 black and white digital photos shown as a 10-minute slide show depicts MacEwan on a northsouth transect of Manhattan Island by foot and rail, wearing a fine mesh bodysuit from which long blades of maiden grass extended. “The grass acted as a conduit for touch, like whiskers or antennae. They conducted vibrations to and from my body, filling the space between my environment and me. My vision was restricted by pinhole goggles to limit my dependence on sight. My other senses - hearing, smell and taste – remained unimpaired. I was accompanied by a photographer who documented the six-hour journey,” she says. Garnering strange looks from passersby was part of the course. A little more conservative, an installation titled ‘Holes for Talking/Wall for Kissing’ is


made from six woollen sweaters of different colours (knitted by her mother and worn by her father), driftwood and sisal rope. Of variable dimensions, it is a continuous blanket-like form, perforated by what had once been neck holes. “These sweaters are sacred to me. They are not props; they are not mundane in my understanding. I have witnessed the love that was worked through them in the making and the wearing. They were living, performing and transforming every day,” says MacEwan. “The sweaters are liberated of their practical duties and shown as a single entity, each sweater sewn into the next, a record of a continuum of time, labour, and intimacy.” MacEwan’s recent work titled ‘Human Meteorite’ is said to be both, land art and an endurance performance - a huge crater, which she personally dug in the ground. She researched the physics of meteorites before starting. “I wanted to know what size the crater would be if my mass was condensed into the density of a meteorite and I hit the earth at terminal velocity. The answer had too many variables to be a useful guide, so I abandoned the theory,” she says. “It made far more sense that the work was a measure of itself. I worked to the limits of each day, and each day those limits were different. These limits included:

daylight hours, saturation of the soil from rain, the physical stamina of my body and my own mental and emotional limits. Each limit surprised me with its immobility, and yet the following day the boundaries of those limits had shifted again. The scale of the crater is a record of those limits.” For NYCxDESIGN 2018, MacEwan spoke about her personal journey through this very performative work. During the presentation, she showed images of the process as well as excerpts from the ‘live’ video broadcasts she had made during the project. She spoke about the limits she faced, what she came to understand about the nature of the impact, and the way the piece transformed her and her audience. Pushing the conventional boundaries of what constitutes ‘art’, Wexler and MacEwan are redefining the ways in which viewers perceive and understand their works. Some clearly avant-garde and experimental, others debatably crossing the boundary into product, their work is certainly not a pretty picture on the wall. Often compelling a palpable reaction from the viewer, the static quality of conventional art is subverted and transformed into a dynamic force.

Top Left It holds us all, 2017 Top Right Maiden grass voyage, 2013 Bottom Left Under the Glacier, 2016 Bottom Right Wake, 2018 Above Holes for talking: Walls for kissing, 2012


review / design fabric festival, Mumbai, maharasthra / pooja talera

Pic: Devpriya Mohata


INDIAN CULTURE THROUGH DESIGN Design Fabric Festival launched its first edition in Mumbai’s Famous Studio amid much fanfare and a staggering attendance. Pooja Talera, who attended the enthralling fest as part of mondo*arc india|STIR shares some insights. Design Fabric Festival (DFF) was a brilliant attempt at contexting the evolving design scene in India. A 3-day multi-disciplinary dialogue through artist-led workshops, panel discussions, immersive art installations and design shops, the debut edition of this design festival in Mumbai was a resonating success; a much needed platform for the creative community in India to network and benchmark with the international community. An extension of Design Fabric, which is a rapidly growing collaborative online portal that talks art and design, DFF had a stellar line up of global industry leaders, including renowned illustrator Christoph Niemann, design thinker V Sunil of Make In India, photographer Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist, fashion designers and

International Woolmark Prize winners Rahul Mishra and Ruchika Sachdeva. Design is ubiquitous to every industry; so the task was definitely a mammoth one. Topics like Graphic Story Telling in India, Sustainability in Fashion, Indian Heritage in Design, Art in Music along with narratives on Make in India and the story of St+art India were good starting points to understand the current design landscape in the country. Curated by the founder of Taxi Fabric, Sanket Avlani, the theme of DFF was ‘Culture makes design, design makes culture’, a pertinent topic that questions what is the quintessential Indian design identity. How can we introspect and re-interpret our cultural identity through contemporary design language? A fine

Pic: Michael Denglar

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review / design fabric festival, Mumbai, maharasthra / pooja talera

example of this was the showcase of the collaboration between DFF, Mumbai’s famous Astik Brass Band and contemporary menswear designer Mitesh Lodha to redesign the band’s uniform. The result was not only a modern uniform, but also a modern identity that kept the Indian sensibilities in mind. Props to the band for rocking their new avatar and pairing it with tunes both old and new whilst attempting some cheeky new numbers – a new found enthusiasm and relevance that perhaps good costume design provided them! As a design enthusiast and an inevitable consumer of fashion, the immediately relatable talk was Fashion Imagery in India in conversation with Sanjay Garg of Raw Mango, photographer Ashish Shah and moderator Aishwarya Subramanyam; which was interestingly right before Scott Schuman took to the stage and shed light on how despite India’s advancements, the imagery of India is still clichéd. Sanjay highlighted

that while creating the visual identity for his brand, he quickly realized that references on contemporary Indian fashion photography were notably absent and the editorial content whilst appealing to the Indian audience was not relevant internationally. Thus the art direction was to shy from traditional models, use everyday people, reference our art heritage such as paintings of Raja Ravi Verma and present the saree in a refreshing Indian aesthetic. Culture is India’s huge soft power, a power we have not been able to fully exercise, perhaps due to the undersupply of good mediums such as art and design to showcase the depth and breath of it in a relevant and millennial manner. Whilst evolution of design has seen a lull period, perhaps due to the lack of a good ecosystem of the thinkers, the makers, the design houses and of course the consumers – this inaugural event of DFF was a step in the right direction.

Pic: Devpriya Mohata

Pic: Devpriya Mohata

Previous Page Ruchika Sachdeva of Bodice, “More than just making clothes, my idea is to create a feeling. I believe that clothes and what you choose to put on your body are a way to construct and express your personality. I’m designing a language through which you speak without even saying a word.” This Page (Below) Top Left Adam J. Kurtz’ dramatic entrance and insights on how the unassuming doodling changed his career Top Right “It is the need of the hour for anybody with ideas to create our own imagery in India. There are so many stories that need to be told.” Ashish Shah and Sanjay Garg in conversation with Aishwarya Subramanyam Bottom Left Scott Schuman in conversation with Diana Marian Murek of Instituto Marangoni talking about his fascination with India that is reflected in his upcoming book Bottom Right Astik Brass Band’s redesigned uniform, reinforcing the idea - Culture makes design. Design makes Culture

Pic: Devpriya Mohata

Pic: Devpriya Mohata


mondo*moment #19 by Daniel Rueda, Valencia, Spain

Dimensions 242 mm (W) x 339 mm (H) Resolution 300dpi


photo + description + photo credits





A moment in time that STIRs your instinct and compels you to capture it in your lens. A moment that manifests into an image; a moment forever to be held. Catch that definitive moment and Get Featured!

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review / grohe ndtv design & architecture awards

Gautam Bhatia, Gayathri Shetty, Tanuja Kanvinde, Sharukh Mistry, Namith Verma

Aman Nath, Paresh Maity, Megha Patel Vadodaria, Keyur Vadodaria

Rajiv Makhni, Gautam Bhatia

SHEDDING LIGHT ON ARCHITECTURE & DESIGN mondo*arc india|STIR was the Magazine Partner for the recently held Grohe NDTV Design and Architecture Awards in New Delhi. Devyani Jayakar of mondo*arc india|STIR gives us a glimpse of the evening and speaks with Stapati Architects, who walked away with the Project of the Year for the Biennale Pavilion in Kozhikode, Kerala

NDTV presented the fifth edition of the Design and Architecture Awards 2017, in partnership with Grohe. mondo*arc india was associated with the awards program as the Magazine Partner, and not only enjoyed the diverse selection of shortlisted projects but was also impressed with the plethora of new talent coming to the fore. The awards covered a wide range of categories, from house interiors and environmental designs to heritage and landscape architecture. Highly coveted, they focussed on the complexities of building projects from a design, aesthetic,

sustainability and conservation perspective, as well as a strong sense of purpose. The 18 project categories received entries from across the country, of which some of the winning submissions included Malik Architecture, studio archohm, Design Forum India and Studio Ardete, the latter walking away with the Grohe Best Bathroom Design Award for their project Zero Power Toilets in Hoshiarpur. Young designers and students were also given an opportunity to showcase their work. While M9 Design Studio were declared the Emerging Architects of the Year, Huma Parvez of Jamia Millia Islamia, New

Delhi and Prachi Metawala of Sir J.J. College of Architecture, Mumbai were recognised for their work. Studio Advaita was lauded for their Socially Relevant Design. Amit Gupta (Director mondo*arc india|STIR) and Mrinalini Ghadiok (Editor mondo*arc india|STIR) presented the prize for Best Interior – Hospitality to 23 Degrees Design Shift, for Fat Pigeon- Bar Hop, as well as the commendation in this category for the Mocha Bar and Grill. The large jury panel composed of eminent designers such as Abin Chaudhari, Gerard da Cunha, Nisha Matthew Ghosh, Savita Punde,


George Seemon, Rajiv Makhni

Gayathri Shetty, Arjun Malik

Jury members Pics: Courtesy of Grohe NDTV Design and Architecture Awards

Gautam Bhatia, Tanuja Kanvinde, Sharukh Mistry

Sanjay Puri, Verendra Wakhloo, Yatin Patel, and several others, led by knowledge partners Gayathri Shetty and Namith Verma of Bengaluru based practice GNA. A super jury comprising Tanuja Kanvinde, Gautam Bhatia and Shahrukh Mistry was empanelled for the live judging of the Project of the Year. Seven works were presented to the special judges’ panel and a vast audience of design enthusiasts through the proceedings of the evening, which was concluded by a unanimous vote for the Biennale Pavilion by Stapati architects.

Amit Gupta, Mrinalini Ghadiok, Neelesh Kumar, Srikanth Reddy

Gayathri Shetty, Namith Verma

The evening not only saw the coming together of the Indian design community but celebrated innovation in architecture and design by applauding some of the greatest works from 2017. “The architectural explorations reached out to a much larger audience through this association between the awards and mondo*arc india|STIR,” said Gupta. Ghadiok, emphasised the need for recognising innovation and design talent, and the relevance of like-minded organisations to work together for this cause.

Gautam Bhatia, Sharukh Mistry, George Seemon, Tanuja Kanvinde

Vikram Agarwal, Ridhish Gajjar, Manvi Sinha Dhillon


review / grohe ndtv design & architecture awards

2018 project of the year:

The Biennale Pavilion “Architecture must stand the test of time.” “Design must be timeless.” “Architects must be able to predict where the world will be in the future.” “Buildings outlive their creators.” “They carry a recognisable signature.” Turning a few centuries of such wisdom on its head, the Biennale Pavilion at Kozhikode, Kerala by Tony Joseph of Stapati was a temporary structure – created to exist for just three months, to be precise – only to be dismantled later. “The brief gave us a clear direction,” says Joseph. “The pavilion was to be airconditioned – which meant it had to be insulated. It also had to accommodate 300 people and was going to be used for performances as well as screenings of movies. So lighting had to be adequately controlled.” However, Joseph’s design also offered the option of opening out the entire rear of the stage onto the landscaped exterior seating, seamlessly blending the inside and outside.

Exterior Pic: Kochi Biennale Foundation

Thus, for certain events, the space could flow into the exterior and was not restricted to being an air-conditioned space alone. Located on a large wooded site, Joseph was careful not to cut any trees. Using recycled debris and discarded materials from the surroundings, the rugged exterior of the pavilion sprawled over 4,157 sqft. Its base wall was made from mud, which was dug out from the site, the depression on the periphery offering a pre-existing difference in levels. “The external wall of the structure consisted of broken brickbats, stones etc. The trusses supporting the roof were from reclaimed wood,” says Joseph. “The floor was finished in a combination of lime and sand, with the temporary wooden galleries on the rear being made up of areca-nut planks.” Entry to the pavilion was through the transition space of the ‘muttam’ (courtyard), a unique construct of traditional Kerala

homes. This led to the amphitheatre-like interior that referenced a traditional ‘kalari’ (literally translated in Malayalam and Tamil as ‘threshing floor’ or ‘battlefield’ – it is a traditional training space for kalaripayattu, a martial art of Kerala). Restricting his material palette to the recycled and discarded with an almost evangelical zeal, Joseph sourced old saris and reused flex sheets, which were used for hoardings to create the roofing of his structure. The flex cost Rs 3/- per sqft. and the wood was from a local factory. Only the steel columns were brought from outside. LED lights installed in the trusses brought the space alive, as the saris took on changing hues to impart a pulsating dynamic to the space. Joseph readily attributes his inspiration for this structure to his childhood memories, derived from the cultural and social context of his surroundings and traditional


Elevation Drawing: Courtesy of Stapati

A performance inside the pavilion Pic: Kochi Biennale Foundation

narratives. “My family came from the backwaters of Kerala. I grew up seeing corrugated roofs being used a lot on the houseboats as walls. When I played basketball, the tournaments were held in galleries made up of areca-nut poles. After the match, these structures were promptly dismantled. The big difference in this pavilion was that it was an indoor space with air conditioning,” he says. The design language also subtly draws inspiration from the dilapidated warehouses and adaptively reused structures of Fort Kochi with their gateway entrance and long dark corridor leading to a courtyard. Even if one is inside the pavilion, there is a subconscious connect with the overall context. “The seating was carefully designed to provide unobstructed lines of sight to the users. These levels evolved into a gallerylike seating towards the rear, commonly found in rural festivals and sporting venues of Kerala. The raised stage in the front could accommodate a variety of functions, right from performances to digital screenings. The space was used in multiple ways and had the flexibility to

Pic: Ar. Sujith G. S.

accommodate formal events as well as informal gatherings,” says Joseph. An interesting exercise was undertaken for developing the chairs to be used in the pavilion. Entries were invited from young architects and designers from all over the country, to submit designs for the chairs. “The main criterion was that they had to make the chairs out of old used wooden chairs. We shortlisted quite a few exciting designs,” says Joseph.” So, on the whole, the pavilion formed a crucible of our collective memories, providing a contextually relevant backdrop to assemble, deliberate and celebrate.” Gautam Bhatia comments: “The materials in this pavilion were imaginatively selected and used. Buildings don’t pretend to be eternal anymore, they are not monuments. Malls last 10 to 20 years, decaying faster than masonry. There is no interest in the elevation of a structure being viewed for 100 years, or for care to be taken about proportions, window placements etc. A structure which houses commercial enterprises can be clad with signage all over, which keeps changing from time to time.

In this pavilion, there was a consciousness of the temporal nature of the structure.” Tanuja Kanvinde applauds the lack of compromise in the execution of the structure, despite the evident budgetary constraints. “I was fortunate to visit this space to attend a musical performance. Though there was nothing hi-tech, the acoustics were commendable and there was no compromise in the way the materials were put together; it was not a shoddy job. The design did complete justice to the brief and was entirely relevant to the local flavour of the site. It is a demonstration of what is possible if one puts one’s mind to it. Though temporary, the structure has been immortalised through its intent and execution,” she says. Sean Anderson, Associate Curator of architecture at the MoMA observed, “This structure sits at the overlap of art and architecture.” However, it is perhaps B. V. Doshi, 2018 Pritzker Prize laureate, who has really captured the essence of the pavilion - “It started with nothing. It went back to nothing.”


review / Dialogues 18 Cinque, Hyderabad, telangana

Collaborative Connotations Dialogues 18 Cinque held in March this year was one of two such annual events that portray the impact initiatives towards collaborations can bring forth to connect and associate varied professions, as in this case, designers and manufacturers to comprehend each other; thus creating enhanced professional relationships within the fraternities. Meghna Mehta of mondo*arc india|STIR shares a few highlights of the splendid gathering.

Pics: Sriman Keerthi


Brinda Somaya, Sanjay Puri

Dialogues 18 Cinque, the 2018 Spring edition of the Dialogues initiative was held in the heritage setting of the beautiful Taj Falaknuma Palace Hotel, Hyderabad, where 40 of the country’s leading architects and interior designers came together over a 3-day period to engage in various aspects of design and architecture. Introduced in 2016 by event Director, Ridhima Prabhu and Curator Sanjay Puri, the intentions of the Dialogues initiative were multi-fold. Apart from providing a platform for creative interactions in a bespoke environment to communicate the passion for design as well as building, Dialogues also offers an opportunity to professionals to bridge and connect the varied fields for the betterment of the design community. The objective is to create a synergy between some of India’s most well known design firms and product companies that produce innovative design solutions. The products conceptualized and visualised by designers and executed by product companies narrate a process of easy communication by creating and encouraging opportunities and networks. Besides an attendance comprising designers and a diverse set of industry leaders, Dialogues 18 Cinque witnessed a book launch of the architectural monograph of renowned

Nita Khanna, Sunita Kohli

architect Brinda Somaya, as well as The Lucknow Cookbook written by Padm Shri winner Sunita Kohli. Keynote lectures were held by these leading ladies including various on-stage interactive sessions for the attendees to get an insight into their thoughts and ideologies. On the other hand, the well-established interior designer Supraja Rao was responsible for the specially curated art show featuring a selection of coveted works by South Indian artists. The following evening was slated for the most anticipated agenda – a sit-down dinner at the longest dining table worldwide, the Falaknuma 101 – in order to facilitate conversations within the design community and with related company heads of leading manufacturers. The occasion also marked the institution of the first Vivek Punjabi VISIONS AWARD presented for the best 3D visualization by a student of architecture in India. The award had a long process of selection over 3 months, judged in 2 stages by Sanjay Puri, Gayatri Shetty, Sonali Bhagwati, Zarir Mullan, Yatin Patel and Shilpa Punjabi; finally conferred on Kunal Bhoge, a deserving student from the Institute of Nagpur. Sanjay and Nina Puri along with Prabhu and the entire Dialogues team not only created

a meaningful confluence of architecture, interior design and product design, but also brought forth art shows, student awards, book launches and architectural debates; truly creating a one of a kind design event. “With each consequent edition, Dialogues aims to add more verticals and thereby engage more people in a multifaceted manner further creating new benchmarks to bring together the design community,” said Puri. SPADE, an exclusive initiative by Dialogues referencing product design once again brought forward signature pieces created by leading professionals in India. 15 beautifully crafted marble inlay panels specially themed, conceptualized and created for the event were presented by designers, crafted and executed by Nitco Ltd. Following a similar idea as that achieved in marble, nine signature carpets were unveiled by their respective designers, each fabricated by Jaipur Rugs. This initiative is a unique example of the efforts towards creating pieces of art with a thoughtful process of design, discovery and collaboration with the manufacturer. Here are some pieces that especially caught our attention as a testimony of the success of these associations and future endeavors through them.


review / Dialogues 18 Cinque, Hyderabad, telangana

CUBES Sanjay Puri, Sanjay Puri Architects Shade & Spade: Marble Inspiration: “Overlapped squares in light colours with the edges in deeper colours simulate a collage of cubes with shadows creating a pattern with depth. Conveying a three dimensional visual of scattered cubes, the panel can be used as a table top or a flooring pattern. The design deviates from most inlays by its illusion of depth, albeit being a flat surface.”

KOMOREBI (meaning: sunshine filtering through leaves) Kiran Gala, Kiran Gala & Associates Shade & Spade: Carpet Inspiration: “Between the world and the word are three small shapes, the signs for ‘tree’, ‘escape’, and ‘sun’. In this day and age, we all need a little bit of sunshine and nature. The idea of this design was to give the notion of openness, wilderness and being transported to a place of peace.” 

DREAMERS Iram Sultan, Iram Sultan Design Studio & Kohelika Kohli, K2 India Shade & Spade: Marble Inspiration: “The idea germinated from the last lines of a favourite poem, the Cloths of Heaven by W. B. Yeats: “I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.” The lines resonate with what we do with our eyes wide shut. We dream and create. Sometimes the dreams turn into reality and sometimes they are jumping boards for the next dream. It all depends on whether we and our clients share the same dreams!”

AFLOAT 2018 Soumitro Ghosh, Mathew & Ghosh Architects Shade & Spade: Marble Inspiration: “Rene Magritte’s paintings changed the expectation from art into an unreal condition. The surrealist painter in many of his works created the absurd presence of daily life objects in unlikely contexts which highlighted a hyper real condition. Crossing the idea of time and space, their aesthetic makes them seem plausible as a future possibility. I see the fragments of stone as carriers of geological history, a manmade process of transformation and created waste from the construction process coming around to a renewed Magritte like aesthetic condition, heavy but suspended…”


MONTAGE K Shivashankar & Priyadarshini Shivashankar, Eskay Design Shade & Spade: Marble Inspiration: “Conceptualised as a chess board, the design evolved into that of the traditional Flemish Bond Pattern. Rosa Alba and Belgium Black streaks dart through the monochromes, tracing Oriental basket weave patterns.”

SCATTERED Nina Puri, Nina Puri Architects Shade & Spade: Marble Inspiration: “Emotions and movements get dispersed as we take our first steps through a space we walk into. This scattered energy emitted is what was intended to be captured through the design - the varying squares representing the multidirectional dispersal of one’s energy.”

BAR CODE Zarir Mullan, SEZA Shade & Spade: Marble Inspiration: “Black and white is incredibly versatile and effective in creating an interesting yet bold composition. For an inlay design I chose to pare it down by removing the typical borders and motif going for bold geometries. The focus being solely on the two-dimensional art created with the stark black and white contemporary design. Most design has a modern flavour, be it residential or commercial, therefore geometric inlays blend into the composition and allows the picture to speak a singular language.”

SYMMETRY OF LIFE Anuja Gujral, ADG Square Shade & Spade: Marble Inspiration: “This Floor and Wall Pattern has been designed by ADG Square, using marble options available from Nitco, keeping in consideration the format of the brief. We call it SYMMETRY OF LIFE. Our inspiration for the pattern is LIFE, as it relates to Harmony, Equilibrium, Equality and Balance. The pattern is detailed to show how three finishes of the same material can flow into each other effortlessly, while generating an appealing and engaging visual aesthetic. The simplicity, and yet versatility, within the pattern lends to applications for both contemporary and classical interior solutions.”


review / TAVA, Tartu, Estonia


Pic: Annika Haas

Continuing lighting excellence with its second edition, TAVA will render the historic city of Tartu in the glorious hues of light this autumn. mondo*arc india|STIR takes a note of its enthralling offerings. Tartu will be lit-up again! A one-of-a-kind festival, Tartu in Light or TAVA offers visual spectacles for visitors and new knowledge for participants and lighting design professionals. The event recently announced its second edition with selected workshop heads, installation and indoor exhibition artists and conference speakers. “I am very happy that the festival has become popular among lighting design professionals and light artists. In total, we have 93 applicants and it was quite difficult to make the final pick from such a good list of candidates,” says Elo Liiv, the main organizer of the festival. ‘Radical Light’ has been presented as the theme of the open-air installations this year. Curated by Varvara and Mar, six installations will help to reconfigure and rethink six wellknown places in the heart of Tartu’s Old Town, which will be open to the public from 25 to 28 October. The participating artists include Immanuel Pax (Finland), Taavi Suisalu (Estonia), Mónica Ruiz Loyola (Mexico), Timo Toots (Estonia), Mischa Kuball (Germany) and Jackob Tækker (Denmark). For the international lighting design conference and a lightfair to be held on October 25, the established theme is ‘Resilient Design in a Changing World’. Curated by Johan Moritz and Tina Wikström, the duo says, “In a time of change, quality, sustainability and close

connection to the end-user shows us that every shift of technology is finding its way back to its original purpose, that is the human itself. During this conference, we will try to use examples of quality lighting design to showcase how it may have a lasting impression on the vision of future.” A prolific list of speakers will include Amardeep M Dugar (India), Claire Tomara (United Kingdom), Emre Güneş (Turkey), Johan Röklander (Sweden), Lina Färje (Sweden) and Darío Nuñez Salazar (Iceland/Mexico). A series of IALD architectural lighting design workshops (20-24 October), also one of the most exciting avenues within the festival, will change the nightly appearance of three historic buildings in Tartu - Tartu Toy Museum, St. John’s Church and Estonian Ministry of Education and Research. Sabine De Schutter (Belgium), curator of the workshop says, “The impact of lighting workshops is manifold. As we experienced in our last edition, they not only create a beautifully lit city, but also spark interest in lighting design, and are, for many participants, an entry point into the profession. Here in Tartu, these lighting installations are regarded as prototypes for public lighting, and contributions to the development of lighting strategies and light awareness in Estonia.” This week-long workshop will be headed by Amardeep M Dugar (India), Johan Röklander (Sweden) and Simas Rinkevicus and Ruta

Palionyte (Lithuania). Indoor light art exhibitions centered around ‘Vacuum as a School of Thought’  will be open from 24th October. KIWA, curator of the program comments, “The interaction between light as a metaphor and as an illuminating visual impulse ‘creates worlds’ based on the aspects of psycho-geography and new mythology. This interaction is attended by observations of the grey area between events that take place in consciousness that registers impulses and the surrounding environment.” Spread across a month, people can enjoy the fascinating works of Carl Michael von Hausswolff (Sweden), Liisa Hirsch, Tammo Sumera, Kristel Saan, Johannes Luik, Aivar Tõnso (Estonia) and Artist Unknown (Unknown). Also, the legendary ‘Dreamachine’, a device causing hallucinations, invented by Brion Gysin in 1959 and made popular by William Burroughs and Psychic TV, will be presented for the first time in Estonia. And to add to this, high-level mapping workshops lead by professionals from Limelight will take place for the first time in Estonia. Limelight is one of the highly acknowledged artist groups in the field of 3D art and light installations. It is going to be a month of exciting adventures in light, and we would encourage you to mark your calendars!

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event calendar

100% Design 19 - 22 September London, UK

Interior Design Show 20 - 23 September Vancouver, Canada

Festival of Architecture and Interior Designing (FOAID) 21 – 22 September New Delhi, India Connecting Lines 27 September - 06 October New Delhi, India Art Pilgrim Live | STIR

BW Future of Design Awards August New Delhi,India

Homedec 06 - 09 September Tangerang, Indonesia

Paris Design Week 06 - 15 September Paris, France

Helsinki Design Week 06 - 16 September Helsinki, Finland

CMC Marble....................................... 35 Divinity Lights................................... 179 Euroceil...................................... 164-165 BW Future of Design Awards 2018.... 81 GM Modular....................................... 15

Hunter Douglas................................ 199 Intersekt................................................ 9 Jaipur Rugs......................................... 11 Lasvit................................................... 67 Light and You..................................... 6-7

London Design Festival 15 - 23 September London, UK

Design Weekend 29 August - 02 September Sao Paulo, Brazil


Decorex Internationale 16 - 19 September London, UK

Denfair 16 - 18 August Sydney, Australia

Panchshil........................................... 200 Poltrona Frau...................................... 13 RAK Ceramics..................................... 17 Skyboard ................................... 192-193 Vinshek............................................... 19

Biennale Interieu 2018 18 - 22 October Kortrijik, Belgium

Light India 2018 11 - 13 October New Delhi, India

Black Cube 10 - 14 October New Delhi, India

Design Isle 05 - 07 October Riga, Latvia

Intercasa 2018 03 - 07 October Libson, Portugal

Dialogues 13 - 16 September Hyderabad, India

vis a vis ............................................ 111 Vizion................................................. 4-5 Willow Viiew....................................... 33 2A Awards........................................ 191

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Salone Del Mobile Milano Shanghai 22 - 24 November Shanghai, China

Berlin Designshow 16 - 18 November Berlin, Germany

The Salon Art + Design 08 - 12s November New York, USA

PLDC 25 - 27 October Singapore


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mondo*arc india issue#20 Jul/Aug2018  

mondo*arc india issue#20 Jul/Aug2018