Friday, 20 February 2015



Text: Hina Nitesh

A bottle of chilled beer is just perfect for a hot hot summer day. I am sure many readers would have started reminiscing about such afternoons. But tell me what happens to the beer bottle once its empty? Trash, probably is the answer.

Well in this age of reduce, reuse and recycle, the answer is a pity. As an inspiration, I will share with you a Buddhist temple in Thailand whose claim to fame is that it is made entirely out 
of what we trashed – yes the beer bottles!!

Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew temple is made by the monks using more than a million beer bottles. The structure combines green bottles from Heineken and brown ones from locally brewn Chang beer.

The brown and green glass bottles filter the light and bathe the interiors in myriad shades. The monks have used the bottles in entirety. While the bottles are used for the walls, the caps have been used to make murals.

Drinking might not be a virtue as far as the religion is concerned, but the monks have made a virtue out of the empty bottles.

All images:
Text & creative layout copyrights: Onthedesignboat   

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Saturday, 14 February 2015

 A r c h i t e c t u r e   " O u t   o f   t h e   B o x "
I love reading. To be honest, I used to spend hours with books as a young adult. Of late as a parent, my world has been populated with children's fiction, fairy tales and revisiting books that I read as a little child :)

A book that I treasure and still enjoy turning a few pages of is "A Whack on the Side of the Head" by  Roger von Oech. As we grow older, our thinking increasingly starts getting slotted in a matrix of rights and wrongs. Education systems reward and encourage young children who draw straight lines and color the sky blue. This book illustrates alternate ways of thinking, problem solving and whacks one's brain out of complacence!

Auroville, Pondicherry has been home to many experiments - in exploring alternate ways of living and creating; one could say treading on the path laid out in 'A Whack on the Side of the Head'. 

Out of the many experiments that have captured my interest over years, those related to architecture have had a profound impact. Today's feature celebrates Architect Andre Hababou's work in Auroville - work that leads one to look at forms, spaces and materials in a new and revolutionary way. This is a two part series, the following being a feature on the Master Architect, Roger Anger.

Prema's Residence, Auromodele, Auroville

My first introduction to Auromodele - a community of about 12 residences designed by Ar. Roger Anger and his school, was as a fresh architecture graduate. The residence pictured above "Prema's residence' designed by Roger Anger and Andre Hababou is a favorite. 

A work of Art that transcends known boundaries of form, seamlessly amalgamating indoor and outdoor spaces, this is an architectural gem, building innovation at its best. Sculpture or Architecture, or both?

Prema's Residence, Auromodele, Auroville     Images: Top & Bottom right: Divya Agrawal

Ferrocement is the magic behind these graceful, curving forms that look perfectly in harmony. The structure embraces its landscape and seems to rise from it. Deep overhangs and thick walls moderate indoor temperature, making for climatically appropriate design in a geography that witnesses sweltering summers.

Residence by Andre Hababou, Auromodele, Auroville

The roof curves and increases in volume to accommodate habitable space in the residence above - a masterly confluence of straight lines and curves.

New Creation School (top left), The Pavillion of Tibetan culture (top & bottom right), Surrender Community (bottom left)

Use of alternate materials and building techniques form the backbone of Andre's work. A sculptural aesthetic ties together the entire body of his work, irrespective of the form used.

Images: Top left & right : Divya Agrawal

Auromode, a space that houses Andre's studio and a garment production unit is a complex of fifteen buildings integrating principles of climate control, waste reuse and rainwater harvesting. 

With a portfolio of work that espouses constant experiment, Andre Hababou's architecture has had a thought shaping influence on me. 

It would be exciting to locate literature on construction techniques used in these works, particularly in Auromodele, where ferrocement has given shape to architecture that is very much 'out of the box'.

All images: Andre Hababou, unless stated otherwise
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Thursday, 5 February 2015


Text: Hina Nitesh

Delicate and fragile are not the emotions one feels when the material in question is wood. 
However, one look at Joey Richardson's work will have you thinking otherwise.

The simple act of turning wood on lathe can result in breathtakingly beautiful pieces. I would not have believed this for myself had I not seen some exquisite pieces handmade by the lady who is the subject of my post for today. 

Joey Richardson is a professional turner who wears many hats. She is a mother and a housewife apart from pursuing her love for wood as a full time turner (I didn't even know about a profession like this but it is making a resurgence in the UK and the US). 

For Joey, making things with her own hands came naturally as she was growing up on a farm in Lincolnshire, England. There was plenty of wood on the farm from which she would fashion wooden jumps for ponies. The love for wood working took a back seat when she went to an all girls school.

Years later, she met with an accident which made her think about wood work that she had enjoyed while growing up. She joined an adult education general wood working class. Here she was fascinated by the idea of turning wood. It was a quick process and one could see the forms emerging almost immediately. She hit a roadblock when the class stopped due to funding issues.

Opportunity knocked again a few years later and she joined another turning and carving class run by Chris Stott. It was here that she rediscovered her love for turning. Another accident resulted in a cut finger (which could be saved) and became a turning point in her life. She won a prize at the International Show at Wembley proving to herself and to anyone who doubted her, what she was capable of.

A chance look at the work of another master craftsman, Binh Pho, proved inspiring. Through him she added piercing, texturing, colouring etc to her portfolio. About his influence on her work she says, "He opened my eyes to new horizons; he showed me how to focus all my ideas, feelings and enthusiasm into creating what I now feel are art forms which reflect my inner self. Inspiration grew as I spent time with Binh Pho; I learned to refine my traditional methods and to add new, innovative techniques: piercing, colour, carving and texture." (courtesy

Joey who describes her work as 'therapeutic', finds inspiration from the nature. Each and every piece made by her is a collector's item. Her love for detailing echoes in her pieces which are a perfect combination of both turning and piercing. Though she has come a long way from the little girl in the farm there is a clear influence of nature from her farm days in her work.

The flora, the fauna and everything else that she sees around her come, her children' dreams and aspirations, places she visits – all come alive in her pieces. For her each piece is unique and has a story to tell of some happy moments of her life. She also uses colours in her work but does not let them over power the essence of the piece. In fact it is a delicate balance that she maintains with piercing, turning and colours. Each piece has an organic form with gentle curves that seem to flow effortlessly. There is a certain femininity (if I may say so without sounding biased) in her work because of which she handles the material with such sensitivity that it creates such beautiful and delicate pieces.

To sum up, it would be apt to quote Joey: 'For too long wood has played a supportive role to art in the form of canvas, paper and frames. Let wood now speak for itself.'(

I had a tough time deciding which works to feature here. Log onto her webpage and see the entire portfolio for yourself.

                                                                                          All images: Joey Richardson
Text & creative layout copyrights: Onthedesignboat   

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