January 9, 2015

A look inside India: Contemporary Design

by Amishi Parekh

India: Contemporary Design by V&A curator Divia Patel sets out to be, “the first ever study of the work of trained designers in the disciplines of fashion, graphics, and interiors in India.” As expected, the book looks at Indian Design by showcasing work produced from 2000 onwards as well as some of the designers themselves.


At first glance, we are treated to Lokesh Karekar’s whimsical illustration for Mumbai Art Map on the cover, which can be interpreted as the “picture of multiplicity, one which explores the exchange of ideas and the networks of connections between people and places that are at the heart of creativity within these fields,” as described in the Introduction. Author Divia Patel responds to the ongoing debate faced by many Indian designers, coming to terms with tradition and modernity, and global and local influences. “An over-arching theme”, she explains, “is the way in which they define their work and negotiate identity and Indian-ness in a contemporary global context.”

The book is then separated into three sections – Fashion, Graphics and Interiors – which are further sub-divided based on emerging themes. Each section includes a visual epilogue at the end, a selection of projects that communicate the dynamism that exists within the three main areas. The book follows a straightforward layout, balancing images of work and essays. It provides an overview of work produced between 2000 and the time of its publication, and serves as an adequate anthology of the major creative players in India.

Throughout the book, ‘craft’ and its applications and mutations over the years are consistently addressed, whether it is through textiles and prints, traditional building methods or the re-appropriation of ancient symbols. Patel claims, “Early western design historians fixed on design as a product of industry, mass produced and machine made…[this] denies that ‘design’ existed before the 1950s or indeed that it can exist in pre-modern societies.” Anyone reasonably familiar with the history of Indian crafts can relate to this statement; while we don’t categorize our cultural heritage under the banner of ‘design’, there is no question that India’s design history goes back a few centuries.


The book focuses on cosmopolitanism as the primary driver for the recent spurt in design, a result of India’s economic growth and elevated political status in the world. There is undeniably a greater level of awareness and sense of interconnectedness amongst Indian designers, many of whom have had the opportunity to travel or study abroad and interact with a diverse range of disciplines and people thanks to the Internet.

At one point, Patel writes, “The circulation and consumption of their work requires more ethnographic-driven research, although a fair generalization of the consumers of these products would be an upwardly mobile, affluent, young, creative, cosmopolitan group.” Herein lies another shortcoming. The survey of projects does not go beyond haute couture, luxury homes, high-end restaurants and exclusive boutiques. It highlights how limited the impact of such examples is, by focusing on such a small section of contemporary Indian society. In many cases, it may not extend beyond the tight-knit group of designers themselves, those already in the know. On the other hand, one can put this down to the aspirational nature of design in India – it is still undeniably considered a luxury by most.

The exposure and awareness from being global citizens however, makes us all the more critical, as we are constantly comparing what we see in our immediate and extended environments. Those looking for an introduction to Indian design will find the book useful, especially the concise history of the Indian design tradition provided in the Introduction and at the beginning of each section.

Sitting beside other books on contemporary Indian design, such as Dekho for instance, one can’t help but find something missing in India Contemporary Design. Perhaps it is the clinical design of the layouts, or the use of Neutra and Gill Sans throughout, as opposed to any number of modern typefaces created by accomplished local type designers such as Indian Type Foundry, there are a number of missed opportunities. It could be that being so rooted in the specific area of inquiry, one finds the work all too familiar, while flipping through pages eagerly hoping to be surprised.

India: Contemporary Design: Fashion, Graphics, Interiors is published by Roli Books and is available online and in stores.программа для взлома wi fi сетейcifrolom скачать полную версию бесплатно без регистрациискачать программу formhack для друг вокруг бесплатновзлом пароля одноклассники скачать бесплатновзлом паролей бесплатно

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