Back to the Future

Through this on-going exhibition at MIT Institute of Design,Loni Kalbhor,a group of 45 designers from Europe and US have entered into a creative dialogue.

Written by AmritaJain | Published: April 10, 2012 3:49 am

Through this on-going exhibition at MIT Institute of Design,Loni Kalbhor,a group of 45 designers from Europe and US have entered into a creative dialogue. One can see a traditional sofa picked from a flea market fashionably wrapped by a silver tape,or a half-plastic,half-bamboo based dustbin here. One can also spot wall art made out of used cartons. Titled ‘New Olds – design between tradition and innovation’,the month-long exhibition is an attempt to use traditional cultural practices to design something new,and has been put together by Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (Institute for Foreign Relations),in association with Max Mueller Bhavan and the MIT Institute of Design.

A common thread weaves all the exhibits together. In one corner of the hall,designer Werner Aisslinger has used hardbound coffee table books and developed shelves supported by joints,brackets and Ts to create a huge bookshelf. In a similar vein,designer Pieke Bergams presents her idea of a traditional light bulb by fusing in a scissor arm frame. In another hall is an imitation of the age-old Baroque wardrobe. Created by designer Silvia Knuppel,the work presents a massive block of foam with cuts for putting all kinds of household goods – an iron,a hanger,a pair of shoes and a mirror dangle from all sides of the wardrobe.

At the heart of the exhibition is the need to link up the traditional to the present,without diluting the flavour of the old. Curator,Professor Volker Albus,explains,”The exhibition tries to encourage young designers to look into their home culture – tradition,typical craftsmanship,local materials – instead of trying to be “international”,which mostly means to be western. We think that a culture like the Indian culture is much richer than the American,which is actually dominating a lot of our contemporary cultural consciousness. For example,at the exhibition,the group of the knotted items were chosen because they are showing a wide variety of possibilities working with ‘tradition'”.

Daniel Juric,product designer,and Laura Bernhardt,art designer,will also be conducting a four-day workshop for undergraduate and post-graduate students at the institute. Their approach is to accord importance to the roots from where designs grow. “As long as you are not aware of your past,you cannot create the future. As designers,we feel it’s important to address the questions – where do I come from? How do things evolve organically? In that sense,objects,habits and elements are captured and blended into a futuristic design,” says Juric.

For Bernhardt,the exhibition is an insight into myriad combinations. “Years before I begun to study,I found an old abandoned volleyball. It was waste. But in a sense,the object asked for a transformation of its function. It became a bag,which is still alive and travels around the world. I am interested in the combination of traditional materials/techniques and new innovative materials/techniques. We tried to display just this mix through the exhibits.” As Dhimant Panchal,director,MIT Institute of Design,says,“It gives insights into the past that we often ignore. These are cultural lessons.”

(New Olds – design between tradition and innovation,will be on display at MIT Institute of Design till May 2)

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