A Q and A with artist and designer Gunjan Gupta on her show Kissa Kursi Ka at the Kochi Muziris Biennale.Read More
Coinciding with the London Design Festival this week, Indian Design Platform presents Transformation, an exhibition of objects and installations by contemporary Indian designers whose practises give a second lease of life to unwanted materials.
In curator Arpna Gupta’s words, ‘the exhibition takes inspiration from the culture of recycling and reuse that exists to the extreme in India, exploring the ways in which artists and designers have reinterpreted humble, discarded materials as design objects.’
We interviewed Nitin Barchha, co-founder and designer at Mumbai-based design studio Material Immaterial whose papier mâché lamps will be on exhibition.
Who makes up Material Immaterial? How did you begin to work with each other?
The Material Immaterial studio was founded by myself and my partner Disney Davis. We met while working together as architects in a studio and then founded our own architectural design practice 'The White Room Studio'. The main motive behind establishing Material Immaterial was to create work that could offer the end user spatial experiences and get them closer to nature through small objects of daily use. The studio aims to go beyond a definitive material or definitive process and aims to focus purely on ideas, limiting the material to be a mere medium of expression.
The studio is built on the basic principles of exploring the bare beauty of materials. As designers we are essentially minimalists and our design approach has always been of what to leave out, rather than what to put in. This reduction process is what takes one through a mirror, emerging out on the other side to discover richness, like in the subtle differences between five shades of grey or in different textures of concrete. Through our work the studio strives to challenge the purpose of material and lets design be at the helm of things.
What are you exhibiting at Transformation?
The Bell Flower Cloud lamp is ceiling mounted with clusters of bell flowers drooping down, they incorporate the texture the buoyancy and the feeling of lightness.
The Mushroom lamp is inspired by a real mushroom taking form and its intricate texture replicating gills with its stalk. The light is hidden, and only the glow visible once the lamp is fixed onto a wall.
The Trumpet lamp is inspired from the flower Angel's Trumpets. It is suspended from the ceiling and has mirrors inside which reflect and focus the light downwards. The texture on the outer surface is smooth and the texture inside is made rough.
Where do your ideas come from?
For the Organic collection they came from nature, be it mushrooms, mosses, ferns or flowers.
How are your products made?
The products are made from recycled newspapers which is then ground into a pulp mixed with glue and converted into papier mâché.
What led you to work with papier mâché?
The Organic collection is the first product line from our studio. We used papier mâché as it gives us the flexibility of use and allows us to explore different possibilities of form and texture inspired from nature.
We wanted a material that was lightweight, flexible (so that we could create organic forms) and is inexpensive (raw material). We started experimenting with paper in different forms and eventually landed at papier mâché. This was the only material that had all the qualities that I required and was also easily available.
The first experiment using papier mâché was a pen stand that still stands at my studio. Slowly over time, we perfected the techniques required trying various permutations and combinations. After about two years of continuous experimentation, the resulting papier mâché was exactly what we were looking for.
Name three local designers to keep an eye out for?
Devyani Smith studio pottery
Ajay Shah from ASDS
Aziz Kachwalla from At-Tin
What is good design?
Good design is minimal, aesthetic & forever.
Art by Rachna Ravi
Love Poem by Tishani Doshi
Ultimately, we will lose each other
to something. I would hope for grand
circumstance — death or disaster.
But it might not be that way at all.
It might be that you walk out
one morning after making love
to buy cigarettes, and never return,
or I fall in love with another man.
It might be a slow drift into indifference.
Either way, we’ll have to learn
to bear the weight of the eventuality
that we will lose each other to something.
So why not begin now, while your head
rests like a perfect moon in my lap,
and the dogs on the beach are howling?
Why not reach for the seam in this South Indian
night and tear it, just a little, so the falling
can begin? Because later, when we cross
each other on the streets, and are forced
to look away, when we’ve thrown
the disregarded pieces of our togetherness
into bedroom drawers and the smell
of our bodies is disappearing like the sweet
decay of lilies — what will we call it,
when it’s no longer love?
Visit The Alipore Post Offline, a curated weekend pop up in Bangalore this weekend Sept 17th and 18th at The Courtyard House.
See the facebook event for more details.
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I discovered The Alipore Post late last year, when it linked to one of my own stories. I went through its archives briefly, felt terribly flattered and signed up for it. Ever since day #275 I’ve woken up to a daily newsletter that distracts me every morning but in a good way - with art, poetry and music from all corners of the globe and links to the best things on the internet.
On February 2, 2015, founder Rohini Kejriwal gave birth to The Alipore Post in the neighbourhood from which it gets its name. On a sabbatical that took her to Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and all over South India, she found herself back in her bedroom in Calcutta “where all the magic took place, and my brain would suddenly be wired to match the perfect poem and artwork, or stumble upon an article or website that was too good to keep to myself.”
The name, The Alipore Post, is an ode to her home and all things postal. “I love letter writing, which was the only means of keeping in touch with people back home when I was at boarding [school]”, she explains.
Now based in Bangalore, and wherever her feet take her, and a freelance writer by profession, this long time image saver, poem eater, music lover and bookmarker has made collating and curating second nature.
With almost 800 subscribers on TinyLetter, and 5500 on Facebook, The Alipore Post has quickly gained itself a substantial following. Subscribers love it for making sense of the internet via neat little daily compilations, others lament the endless vortex it sucks them into but are fans anyway. For those that can’t get enough from the handful of links in the newsletter, Facebook serves to tide them over until the next day.
Apart from the feedback she receives and connections she’s forged, how has this self-directed project been rewarding? “This might sound silly but I always imagined dying an obscure death. Thanks to The Alipore Post and the scale it has taken off on, I might just be remembered after I go, which is a nice feeling.”
Tired of only living online, Rohini is planning a pop up cafe in Bangalore - a weekend of food, music, art, board games, poetry, letter writing, vinyl sessions, and all the things that make her happy. It's time, she declares, “I'm ready to go offline and come out of my awkward shell and go on a hugging spree.”
For each issue henceforth, The Alipore Post will put together an India-centric special for LOVER. See the first one here.