Memory has a way of hand-holding us through life. And designers, a way of embedding personal ciphers into their work. At the recently concluded Heimtextil India & Ambiente India Fair in Delhi, there was a show of hands to testify how memory plays a role in design. Winners of the Interior Lifestyle Award 2017 (ILA), Anshul Malhotra (Home Textile Category) and Himanshu Dogra (Interior Decor Category) laid out memory on a Buddhist platter with their stall designed as a meditation room.
“Both Anshul and I grew up in Himachal Pradesh. And we both have memories of visiting monasteries and watching monks while they chanted. When I close my eyes I see the colours of ochre, orange, maroon, and greys, the colour of brass, and Buddhist iconography. It’s these details that we have brought to the collection at ILA,” says Delhi-based Dogra, founder of Play Clan. On Malhotra’s handwoven sheep and yak wool textiles, Dogra embellished illustrations of prayer flags, lamas by the window, prayer motifs, all of which suggested a tranquil experience. The accent colours on cushions, prayer mats and art prints affirmed their inspiration.
The ILA winners will travel to Germany, says Nicolette Naumann, Vice President, Ambiente, Frankfurt-Germany, where they will showcase their work in the Talent Zone at the international fair next year. The award, running for the fourth time in India, recognises design novelties in lifestyle, interior décor and product design.
At the ILA installation area, there were three other stalls, which comprised designers and artists from across the country. While Padmini Balaram, a professor of design at Visva-Bharati, Shantiniketan, and artist Dipti Pramod Khamkar from Ratnagiri developed the theme of ‘Nature’, Delhi-based Melvin Josy of Studio SQ1 and Mumbai-based designer Kanika Bawa were called to interpret the textures of ‘Planet’. Ahmedabad-based textile designer Sandip Jaiswal and Navya Aggarwal of Delhi-based Studio Wood worked on ‘Illusion’.
In each of the stalls, these themes were unified through the objects that the designers had created. Balaram explored the five elements in nature through tie-and-dye fabric, lending them colours of white, light blue, brown, deep yellow, and darker blue to denote air, water, earth, fire and sky. Khamkar complemented her explorations with floor lights and crockery. Josy, who spent his childhood on the beaches of Alleppy and the highlands of Wayanad, brought memories of dragon flies, barks of trees, and moss-ridden paths into seating, lighting and tables. His mild-steel tables carried the dappled texture of insect wings, while the stance of his table lamp was almost like an insect in flight.
The seating for a chair had shades of green suggesting the aftermath of rain on a forest floor. “I have worked with designers Sahil and Sarthak on their Kerala Sutra collection two years ago, where I had a chance to interact with leather puppeteers from Kerala. In my designs, I like to believe that nature, form and function come together in a sculptural storytelling format,” says Josy, who will soon open his studio at Hauz Khas Village with two friends.
Meanwhile, Studio Wood used traditional cane weaving techniques into their furniture line, with its fluid contours shaping counter tops, divans and side tables. “We all have fond memories of summer holidays in our grandparents’ houses, where bamboo and cane furniture were a constant. For this line, we introduced metal as a contemporary material, and worked with a master craftsman for the cane weaving. The bent ply and metal sections add poetic fluidity within the collection,” says Aggarwal.