Design Catalyst

The India Design Forum (IDF),in its second edition,promises to drive curiosity and enhance networks between design disciplines. Content-rich,the programme has two parts — Design Week,where design luminaries will exhibit their cutting-edge projects at different venues across Mumbai,and Design Forum,where international designers will speak on their respective disciplines and share their vision and imagination. The founder and conceptualiser of IDF,Rajshree Pathy of The Coimbatore Centre for the Contemporary Arts,shares her views on design

Published:March 15, 2013 3:03 am

You’ve been a patron of art and design for long; what changes have you seen in this field over the years?

Two decades ago,we bought art that we liked and had a personal relationship with the artists. To a lover of art,this is all that mattered. Today,collectors are ‘investor-collectors’,who perceive art as a part of their investment portfolio. They have money but don’t know much about art nor are they interested; they buy it as a status symbol or for decorating their home. What is significant is that artists have more value today than before and more money is going into the art market.

Do you have favourites among Indian designers and artists?

Of course,I have favourites — Raza and Broota from an earlier period,Subodh Gupta,who will always be iconic for Indian contemporary art,Bharti Kher for her strong feminist work,Jitish Kallat for being consistently interesting,and Mithu Sen for her inimitable paper renderings of provocation. But again,they are all friends and their works are,therefore,more meaningful for me in an emotional way.

What difference has design made in your life?

I have always been curious about design. I grew up in a Modernist house,very Bauhaus. The pioneers of modern architecture,Mies van der Rohe,Le Corbusier and Eames were part of my everyday existence and I relate to this period the most. Design is everything,isn’t it? I believe good design should be pure function with simple aesthetics. It should not be about flamboyance or clutter. For us in India,it’s also about ‘contemporarising’ our craft skills through design to create a product of utility for our times,or we will lose the craft in its original form.

Compared to international designers who will be there at IDF 2013,we don’t see too many Indians. Why?

Design thinking has been around far longer in the West than here. At IDF,we bring to India the best design practitioners,and architects such as Thomas Heatherwick have shown how new-age materials can be used in serious construction. If you look at our speakers,you will see that they are all ‘thinkers’ first. We do have many Indian speakers — Rahul Mehrotra is internationally acclaimed for his work,and we have presentations by young Indian designers too.

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