Sarthak Sengupta and Sahil Bagga work on a wide range of design projects, from furniture to lifestyle products, graphics to brand communication, interiors to installations

New Delhi-based designing duo Sarthak Sengupta and Sahil Bagga have shot into the limelight with vibrant designs that combine style, service and sustainability. The designers came together in Milan in 2006, when the two were pursuing their MSc in Design as a part of a scholarship programme awarded by the Italian Chamber of Commerce. Since then, they have learnt to orchestrate their individual creative expressions to create designs that showcase their joint design sensibilities - reflective and bold, provocative and poetic.

The twosome returned to India in 2009, and co-founded Sarthak Sahil Design, a studio that today works across a wide range of design projects, from furniture to lifestyle products, graphics to brand communication, interiors to installations. “We are a multi-disciplinary design studio specialising in product design, interior design, service design and graphic design. We believe in providing holistic design solutions to our clients. Therefore, we attend to product, service and system-based needs of projects,” Sahil says. “We started work across many areas of design, but underlining all projects was a strong belief – that ethics, ethnicity and ecology can be interwoven with contemporary lifestyle,” Sarthak adds.

To Sahil and Sarthak, design works as a “framework charted out between six key coordinates”. “These include aesthetics and functionality, ethic and ecology, ethnicity and contemporary-ness,” they say. The partners strive to re-contextualise indigenous materials and traditional techniques, and believe their expertise lies in customising products, furniture, lighting and installations through the innovative use of Indian craftsmanship and materials.

“Society expects design to be a solution to a certain requirement. But for a designer, it’s also a mode of self-expression. A designer is basically creating and offering his art to others. Therefore, the responsibility towards a good design is that much more for a designer,” Sarthak says.

Any influences? The duo finds creative stimulation in the work of great maestros like “Antonio Gaudi, Achile Castilione and Le Corbusier” and contemporary designers “Marcel Wanders and Fabio Novembre”.

Their work includes the immensely successful Katran Collection, which includes the Katran chair - the designer’s expression of “beauty in frugality”. The frame of the chair was made by a lohar (blacksmith) in a small town in Rajasthan, after which coloured pieces of cloth – the by-products of export houses from a nearby town – were woven into ropes by farmers and their wives seeking to make additional money between farming seasons. These ropes – also known as katran (numerous pieces of cloth) rope or the poor man’s rope – ensures “green luxury” furniture. The award-winning range includes Katran Chair Nuovo, Katran Pouf Nuovo and the Katran Dome Lamp.

Also extremely popular are the colourful Choori Lamps, which find their inspiration in most Indian women’s habit of using clothes hangers to store their glass bangles in their wardrobes. “The shape of the brass hanger is inspired by a jharoka, the window of a medieval Indian palace. The atmospheric light and shadows that a Choori lamp casts has made them extremely popular. The colour of the bangles can be changed and any gentle movement creates a soft jangling sound,” Sahil says of this design. The lamps can be used as single units or assembled together to create a striking lighting installation.

Sahil and Sarthak products and furniture have been selected and showcased at international design events such as Salone del Mobile Milan 2010 and Alchemy Festival London 2010. Their work will also find pride of place at Victoria & Albert Museum, London, for the “India Now” exhibition in 2015. Clearly, creating products and spaces that are “beautiful, functional and ASAP (As Sustainable As Possible)!” has worked wonders for the duo!