Design past and present

Building an emotional connect with the audience is the main motive behind design practitioner Divya Thakur’s ambitiously curated show, Design: The India Story.

Thakur, who is also the founder of multi-disciplinary studio and retail outlet Design Temple, has painstakingly stitched together the two different shows that make up Design: The India Story. One of these, Objects Through Time, was being exhibited at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) up until last week. The other, Ideas Through Time, continues to show at Gallery Max Mueller Bhavan (GMMB) till later this month.

Both shows have been constructed with the intent to draw attention to a timeline that documents India’s contribution to the world of design through daily objects and ideas.

While the recently concluded show at CSMVS was about the evolution of design in everyday objects right from the pre-Independence era, the ongoing show at GMMB explores eight vital design concepts and how they are placed in a contemporary context.

“I feel that design has lacked a platform in the country. Until we get people interested in looking at objects, there is not going to be respect for it,” Thakur says, explaining one of the reasons for curating the shows.

Thakur has more recently curated India Past Forward in Stockholm (2015), which also traced the ancient Indian approach to design. Thakur’s past curatorial experince includes the exhibitions India Now, commissioned by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2007), and Indigenous India in Milan (2004).

Design: The India Story is an interesting experience, because it is the first time I am doing [an exhibition] in India. To change perspective and gear, it has taken a lot of effort to design this show,” says Thakur.

Objects Through Time was conceived to discuss the objects in Indian homes that are taken for granted. For instance, Mahatama Gandhi’s unique symbol of resistance: the charkha. “It was not only a design innovation, but it brought the country together. It served a purpose that wasn’t just frivolous. It was actually something that helped you earn a livelihood and gave you an immense amount of pride,” says Thakur.

Among the show’s five categories were the evolution of seating, from asanas to the royal thrones, to the chairs attributed to our colonial rulers.

Thakur says that while tracing the development and evolution of design in India, it is crucial to mention technology. “It is the future of design.” She describes how we have evolved from leaf-shaped fans and cane fans to the electronic fans now part of our homes.

“Preciousness in the Indian context is not just about money, we value memories,” says Thakur, explaining the inclusion of objects such as huge wooden sandooks, stainless steel almirahs and different kinds of Godrej locks, very much a part of Indian homes.

In the ongoing exhibition, Thakur explores the eight pillars of thought which have shaped design in India. These thoughts are displayed on cloth stretched across bamboo frames.

“If Objects Through Time was trying to discuss what objects speak about India, Ideas through Time is what India stands for through its ideas,” says Thakur.

One of the central ideas tackled by her in the show is that of ‘kaal’: how time is cyclical in nature, and how through the kaalchakra, one relates to state of evolution.

“I have tried to bring out eight such ideas which have existed in the Indian psyche in a contemporary context,” adds Thakur.

Ideas Through Time is on at the Gallery Max Mueller Bhavan till January 22.

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2021 11:27:03 PM |

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