Tuesday, 25 February 2014

R E S P O N S I B L E    D E S I G N 

  Text: Hina Nitesh
A visit to the India Design Week last Saturday has inspired me
 to write this post. It was a small 
but well managed exhibition proving that it is quality and not quantity that spells success. 

A number of products caught my eye and I am going to elaborate about one of them today (the rest for a later time maybe).

The brain child of Spriha Chokhani, a graduate from the Srishti School of Design, Bangalore is Pulp Factory.  As the name suggests the designer has explored newspaper as a raw material and experimented with techniques to make it useful. This is done by making it into pulp like paper mache or forming paper yarn out of it. Whatever be the process, the end product is eco-friendly and custom made. The craftsmen too get involved in the production process in which each product is hand crafted.

Paper mache is turned into usable pieces of furniture like stools, shelves etc. These products are lightweight and with their soft edges, safe for children to use. The only limitation is that these products will not be able to withstand water hence ideal for interior spaces.  

Seen from another perspective, this really is what design schools teach – giving back to the community and creating a better future. In a small town in Assam, Spriha’s Pulp Factory is doing just this – creating sustainable futures.

You can get to know more about her and her products here.

All images are courtesy Pulp Factory

Saturday, 15 February 2014


Some Art just holds your gaze & invites you to soak into it’s beauty the moment you set your eyes on it. 

“The Kiss” by Gustav Klimt has been one such work for me. My first introduction to Klimt’s work was during a tour of the Belvedere Palace, Vienna, Austria, the country that was home to the artist. 

I believe in "To each their own Art". Different Art appeals to different people, and, usually great Art captivates all.

Image: "The Kiss" 1908,   belvedere.at

"The Kiss" has minute ornamental details emerging beautifully out of gold gilding. Linear abstract patterns in the man’s costume contrast & balance circular details in the woman’s clothing perfectly. The colors are just right as is the choice of texture for the background and of the flower covered ledge. This painting holds me mesmerized..

Klimt’s journey as an artist went through many phases of inspirations & refinement before he produced this work , a part of what is termed as the “Golden Phase” – a time when he produced some of his most renowned works using gold gilding as a painting technique.  

Image: "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I", 1907,   Wikipaintings.org

The Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, is another masterpiece in the series of gilded paintings. Klimt’s work is captivating in the contrasts it offers – superbly detailed human figures that look alive, draped in almost two-dimensional costumes showcasing the most brilliant patterns & colors. 

Images: 1. "Malcesine on Lake Garda", 1913;   2. "Church in Unterach on Lake Attersee", 1916  klimt.com

Klimit produced a vast body of work in his lifetime. Themes as diverse as portraits, sketches, landscapes, works interpreting & drawing from philosophies of life form a bulk of this treasure.

Images: 3-6: Sketches by Klimt

Gustav Klimt (1862 – 1918) was at the forefront of the Vienna Secession movement – the Austrian counterpart of the Art Nouveau*.   

 Images: 7. Detail from "Three Ages of Woman", 1905;    8. "Farm Garden with Sunflowers", 1906    klimt.com

I was captivated by the phrase “Der Zeit ihre Kunst. Der Kunst ihre Freiheit" meaning “TO EVERY AGE ITS ART. TO ART ITS FREEDOM" at the entrance of the Secession  building in Vienna. The phrase summarises the philosophy of Secession artists – to create art that drew from life around, art that was free from historical & academic bondages. 

Images: 9. "Water Serpents I", 1904 : belvedere.at;   10. "The Hope II", 1907 : wikipedia.org

Indeed, it is vital to let art, and, artists be free. It is only when artists respond to their inner voice and give form to their imagination can they produce work that is truly fine. 

Images: 11. "Portrait of Elisabeth Baroness Bachofen-Echt", 1914: klimt.com;   12. "Portrait of Frttza Riedler", 1906 : belvedere.at

It is apparent that Klimt’s art draws heavily from his own life.  He was fascinated by women and has sketched & painted the female form extensively.

Images: 13."Portrait of Johanna Staude" (unfinished), 1917 : klimt.com;   14. "Lady with Fan", 1917 : Wikipaintings.org

Klimt undertook two much celebrated wall installations. 
The first "The Beethoven Frieze" details out the human journey in search of happiness in a world full of evil & temptations and ultimately finding joy in the Arts.

Image: "The Beethovan Frieze", 1902 : klimt.com

Housed in the Secession Building at Vienna, this frieze, painted directly on the walls, was made for an exhibition held to celebrate Beethoven.

Images: Details from "The Beethovan Frieze" 15. Wolfgang Thaler; 16, 17. klimt.com; 18. wikipedia.org

The "Stoclet Frieze" is a set of 3 murals undertaken by Klimt for Palais Stoclet, a residence in Brussels. A variety of materials like marble, gilded tiles, enamel and semi-precious stones have been used to depict the "Tree of life".

Image: Part of "The Stoclet Frieze" 1905-11 : klimt.com

Images: Details from "The Stoclet Frieze" 19. Wikipedia.org; 20, 21. klimt.com

I feel truly enriched to have seen Gustav Klimt's varied works in the course of researching this piece. Hope you have enjoyed reading this as much :)

To all friends with an artist in them -  let your imagination soar!

* "Art Nouveau is an international philosophy and style of art, architecture and applied art - especially the decorative arts - that was most popular during 1890–1910.….. it is now considered as an important transition between the eclectic historic revival styles of the 19th-century and Modernism." Source: Wikipedia

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Saturday, 8 February 2014

T A L K I N G   T H R E A D S

Text: Hina Nitesh

Embroidery is a craft that takes many forms. It is intriguing to see how a simple needle and coloured thread can create an array of stitches and patterns. In our country, the craft is passed on from mothers to their daughters and is used to embellish clothes and accessories. Taking this craft to a different level is the lady I am going to introduce today.

Tia Pankhi or the green parrot in Bengali is the brainwave of Anais Basu. Born in France, the lady has settled in India. She holds a degree in fashion and textile design from LISSA in Paris and has found her calling in the traditional crafts and textiles of India. 

Practiced in rural India especially in Bengal and Orissa, Kantha is the basic running stitch. It started with women layering old saris together with running stitch to form a light quilt. Slowly the art form graduated to adorn other things like shawls, saris, bedspreads etc. The elements in the traditional work were inspired by nature and the surroundings. 

Giving a modern and contemporary look to the art are designs by Tia Pakhi. Basu has reinterpreted the traditional embroidery style with a new colour palette and patterns. The motifs on her range of products are bold and geometric – bringing out the best in the technique. I fell for her floor cushions with are designed like the ludo, checkers and backgammon board and can be used for playing as well. In fact these cushion covers are accompanied with playing coins in an embroidered pouch!. Her designs are inspired by what she sees in the vibrant city of Kolkata - her new home. 

At the moment, Tia Pakhi’s range of products includes home furnishings like cushion covers, throws, bed and table linen etc. She has also started with a range for the kids. In her own way, she has ensured that the craft does not fade away and that the work has a global appeal. She retails her works through her store in Kolkata and in Paris.

You can also buy her creations online here

 All images are courtesy Tia Pakhi

Saturday, 1 February 2014

I N    S Y M P H O N Y    W I T H    N A T U R E

Our living environments are a reflection of who we are as individuals, as a society. 
The spaces we inhabit have the power to shape how we think, act and live. 

Great Eras in history are identified by their architecture, be it the early Roman, Egyptian civilizations or the more recent Renaissance and Mughal. We see a reflection of the sum total of all that exists in an Era’s architecture. A towering example is the Pyramids of Giza - a product of advanced application of mathematics, science, art and astronomy of the times. They are a living proof of the prowess of man’s mind and will. No wonder then that Architecture is called the mother of all Arts!

Great architecture is given shape by exemplary minds and today's feature talks about one of them – Geoffery Bawa. Based in Srilanka, he was one of the most recognized & renowned Asian architects of his times.
 Images: 1. horvath bence @ flickr;   2. geofferybawa.com

A beautiful, complete home is one which is a part of it’s inhabitants lives, an expression of who they are, a reflection of their beliefs & ideologies. A house can be built in a few months, but it takes many more to make it “home”. The subject of this feature, Geoffery Bawa’s home is a peek into his life as an architect & artist. It comes across as a wondrous, lived-in space, lovingly & passionately created over a life time.

Images: 3. threeblindmen.photoshelter.com;    4, 5. Nishan Magodaratna;   6. geofferybawa.com

The residence, No. 11, 33rd lane in Kollupitiya, Colombo evolved over a period of time. Four row houses were gradually acquired & amalgamated to create a whole, holding within a series of eclectic spaces.

 Images: 7. Nishan Magodaratna;   8. geofferybawa.com

Outdoor & Indoor lose meaning here, with gardens merging seamlessly with enclosed spaces. The house is predominately white, deliberately so, to serve as a neutral backdrop for Geoffery Bawa’s rich collection of art & artifacts.

 Images: 9. WOONDER @flickr;   10. Nishan Magodaratna;   11. geofferybawa.com

“Bawa’s work is characterised by sensitivity to site and context….. His designs broke down the barriers between inside and outside, between interior design and landscape architecture and reduced buildings to a series of scenographically conceived spaces separated by courtyards and gardens.” Geofferybawa.com

Images: 12. Nishan Magodaratna;   13, 14. 230i.com

Practically every living area overlooks a patch of green, bringing calm & repose to busy spaces that are a collage of art, sculpture & architecture.

 Images: 15. geofferybawa.com;   16, 17: Nishan Magodaratna

 Images: 18, 19, 20. Nishan Magodaratna

Ornate wooden columns, modern art, painted & metal doors, traditional artifacts, all find their spot in this delightful labyrinth of spaces. The house practically served as the architect’s drawing board, where he experimented with design ideas for many years. The Geoffery Bawa Trust now offers a few rooms in the residence for stay. 

Read more about Bawa's life and work here.
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