The earth-lover’s guide to India Design ID 2019

Tactility and green-ness are two things we’re looking forward to this year

In its seventh edition, the annual India Design ID is a gathering of innovators and thinkers in Delhi. As spring sets in, urban planners, designers, decorators and conservationists, all come together to show and tell us about how utility and aesthetics come together. This year’s edition will have over 130 Indian and international exhibitors. Over 20 speakers, including art stalwart Bose Krishnamachari, conservationist Brinda Somaya, London-based lighting artist and designer Flynn Talbot, and Japan-based founder of innovation studio Lab +1e Yoko Shizimu, will speak on the various panels that run parallel to the show. While the discussions range from sustainable urban planning to bio-design and emotions in architecture, among some of those exhibiting, there is a thought towards tactility, sustainability, and green-ness.

Claymen

The little clay figurines are making a reappearance. Aman Khanna, a sculptor trained in informational design says his men of clay are informed by the simple functionality of iconography. The Claymen come in a range called Functional and Dysfunctional.

The Dysfunctionals consist of a range of 30-odd human-like figurines that Khanna intellectualizes, if only just a little. “These help you deal with the dysfunctionality of life,” he says, adding that the figures come in peace, and are non-judgmental. Among the Characters is a long-nosed, somber figure, hugging his knees to his chest, called Misplaced Hope – he looks sturdy, and steady, but there’s a certain fragility about him (other than the fact he’s made of clay). There are also Dysfunctional Clayheads and Forms, some of which can be used as vases or tea-light holders.

The Functionals, on the other hand, are more straightforward about their utility: there’s the de shaped round cup and squashed jug in the ‘Deformed’ subset; the angular decanter and pourers in the ‘Geometric’ line; and espresso cups with an unfinished look in ‘Hand moulded’. In intentionally retaining these Khanna’s connect with clay, the most ancient material of all time, comes through — the small “flaws” let you really feel the product you’re holding in your hand, as well as bits of its process.

Elan

Spearheaded by décor designer Vidushi Gupta, Elan focuses on keeping alive the textures and colours of the materials that go into making her work. “About a decade ago, I went to the Amber Palace in Jaipur. I felt so bad when I saw how the place was painted and whitewashed,” she says. She recalls how the patterns she drew in her sketchbook there, and of which she then made decals, now make it to the items in this collection.

Usually, the feel of the material gets covered in coating and colour. Elan has intentionally avoided that this time around. The material remains king: For instance, the serve-ware keeps a bend and grain in the metal; the tiffin-dabbas take on the hand-drawn floral patterns from the palace’s walls, while the platters keep a textured face.

Gupta uses stainless steel, mild steel, brass and aluminum. Her copper bottles dip into the ancient Indian wisdom of drinking water from copper containers, while molding them resemble the very popular S’well vacuum bottles that Instagram influencers promote in lieu of single-use plastic bottles.

Earth Garden

This project, headed by director Kamal Badia wants to bridge the gap between the indoors and outdoors. With trellises, arches, urns, cauldrons, meant for “live plantations,” the products are made mostly of brass, copper, and mild steel, which is known for its relatively lower carbon content. “These materials age well,” Badia says.

Some of Earth Garden’s products also include coco-liners – thin coir-based planter pots known for their eco-friendly and breathable nature.

Aranya Earthcraft

The brand that had gained popularity over the past couple years for their nature-inspired papier-mâché jewellery has now expanded into interior décor. The idea, says co-founder Preeti Gupta, is to make the statement that their eco-friendly products are durable, despite being made from scrap newspaper-pulp and natural edible glue from the babool (acacia) tree.

While Gupta does the jewellery, her partner Vivek Prasad is the sculpture artist. For their India Design exhibit, the duo has collaborated with textile artist Manas Ghorai. They’ve also used bronze and a little wood — they avoid teak wood at all costs, using only the faster-growing pine wood when necessary. The line now includes smaller products like coasters, and bigger, more durable ones like clocks, lamps, and sculptures.

WeDecor8

Taking this a step further, is environmental-entrepreneur Ruchika Wadhwa Bhalla, who focuses on making indoor decor pieces out of plants. Her project showcases vertical gardens that consist of frames made from geo-textile with air-purifying plants growing on them. Geo-textiles are breathable synthetics used in conservation efforts, and are known to help control soil erosion and maintain its stability. In incorporating this into indoor décor, Bhalla aims is to provide a relatively natural alternative to indoor air-purifier machines. It falls in between buying a gadget and a potted plant to clean household air.

Their other focus is on air-purifying moss-walls. While not the most sustainable given the moss is imported, Bhalla says the green adapts perfectly into the humid and hot Delhi-NCR weather. The moss comes in 19 different colours, and can seamlessly work its way into the palette of your already-existing interiors.

India Design ID starts from February 12 to February 15 at the NSIC Grounds, Okhla. For details, indiadesignid.com

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