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Local goes global

Global and local aspects of design were the focus of a recent discussion

"I DON'T think there is anything global or local. A good design is appreciated the world over," said Jean Francois Lesage, French designer based in Chennai, at a panel discussion titled `Global Local: Engagement, Economics and Identity.' Organised by the British Council, Prakriti Foundation and Forum Art Gallery, the discussion was part of the design exhibition on at the Forum Art Gallery.

The discussion focussed on strategies of engagement with design, affordability and access, and the issue of identity. Vikram Phadke, design consultant and partner, Evoluzione, the lifestyle store, also joined the discussion along with Ranvir Shah of Prakriti Foundation.

Phadke, who has helped bring global products into the Indian market through his design store, spoke about global products with local design. He said globalisation has opened more avenues for the Indian consumers the world over. "After being starved of good designs for over 40 years, from the early 1960s, when the market finally opened up, there was a flood of imported designs." Phadke continues, "I think designers today are inspired by what surrounds them to make products that sell, rather than sticking to traditional motifs and ethnic designs. However, a good design comes with a price, and that could be the reason why designer products are expensive."

To this, Jean Francois Lesage, who deals with traditional embroidery and designs fabrics for clients worldwide, said that the beauty of collaborative work lies in the fact that no one questions whether a product is global or local. Showing a framed piece of traditional Italian embroidery on silk, he said, "To project something that was discovered 300 or 400 years ago is exciting and can be creatively challenging."

Discussing the aspect of affordability, Phadke said, "Most Indians today are mobile and aware of the price they have to pay for designer products. And they are willing to pay so long as it makes their homes look good."

So, are we forcing ourselves to accept foreign designs? To this, Phadke said, "Good designs have adopted from the west for the sake of convenience." He cited the example of people moving from mattresses to chairs and couches.

Talking about design being a subjective term, both agreed that any design that survives over time is good. On the whole, the discussion proved that India has arrived on the global design scene. The Global Local Design exhibition is on till June 24, at Forum Art Gallery, 57, Padmanabha Nagar, 5th Street, Adyar, phone 52115596.


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