Design: The India Story that delved deep into the products made by homegrown talent, throwing light on how they truly shaped the design story of India

Left: Pramiti Madhavji and Aparna Piramal Raje moderating the talk. Right: Sar: The Essence of Indian Design, published by Phaidon Press was launched at the event

Inside the PR gallery at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, was a show titled Objects Through Time that showcased a series of products that have been essential to our culture like ceiling and hand fans

A collection of locks that have been used over generations, displayed at the exhibition. Photographs courtesy Design Temple

Divya Thakur's curatorial show on iconic Indian designs was a throwback to our roots

by Aditi Sharma Maheshwari Jan 11, 2017
They say we grow up with creativity all around us – from our childhood experiences of making rangolis, beautiful lights that we pick up during festivals to the earthen pots we learned to make from our grandmothers, design is integrated in every step of our lives. However, we still remain unaware of it, trying to look for a formal definition or form outside of our culture. Placing this observation under scanner, Divya Thakur of Design Temple showcased an exhibition titled Design: The India Story that delved deep into the products made by homegrown talent, throwing light on how they truly shaped the design story of India.

Inside the PR gallery at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (the erstwhile Prince of Wales Museum), a series of objects were exhibited titled Objects Through Time –  one that occupied pride of place at the entrance was the charkha, which has been the most eminent symbol of our freedom movement and a tool for design. Other than that, old appliances, locks, radio, furniture, tableware and showing a passage of time, newer products made by designers using local materials.

The second approach to the show was through talks conducted by industry specialists, discussing interiors and the future of design in the country. On January 7, a forum to discuss and debate over matters of design was conducted. It was attended by industry creatives, students, design enthusiasts and moderated by Pramiti Madhavji, Editorial and Content Director, ELLE DECOR India, Ogaan Media and Aparna Piramal Raje, columnist and author. Among the various points of deliberation was the dire need for teaching the importance of design at the school level and integrating it into the curriculum. To make this discipline available to everyone, a travelling exhibition that tours the country was broached on. Also, the need for an increased number of workshops and shows to teach people about design, the process behind creating an object and eventually instilling respect in the buyers about what they are purchasing.

Speaking about the event, Divya shares, “As I started looking at and studying our vintage objects I realised their absolute brillinace. We always take our past for granted and sometimes dismiss it. This exhibition has allowed me to understand this country and how we do things. Therefore my appreciation for India has increased.” 

The event was followed by the launch of the book Sar: The Essence of Indian Design, which is the brainchild of fashion designer Rashmi Varma, and artist and curator, Swapnaa Tamhane. The tome is published by Phaidon Press. It explores timeless Indian designs through 200 classic objects sourced from all over the country. “We did an extensive research on the history of every object we put in the book – so the learning was massive. It took us a year and a half to publish the book but all this time was spent in accumulating the most brilliant information and knowledge that really opened our minds,” avers Rashmi.

On January 21, you can catch a panel discussion between industry leaders who share their experiences with intrinsic Indian concepts, at the Gallery MMB Library, Mumbai. 


A collection of locks that have been used over generations, displayed at the exhibition. Photographs courtesy Design Temple