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Melting Pot of Colours

Designer Ashwini Deshpande showcases the culture of India at an exhibition in Hong Kong.

Designer Ashwini Deshpande showcases the culture of India at an exhibition in Hong Kong.

The most interesting attribute about India is its diversity in everything — from food to language,traditions to rituals and culture to colours. Even though it is one country,it is a melting pot of so many cultures,” says Ashwini Deshpande,Founder,Director and Principal Graphic Designer at Elephant Designs,a Pune-based design and brand consultancy.

The insight,Deshpande shares,struck her in a new way while working on her recent project called “Colours of Asia”. As the India representative at The Design Alliance Asia (TDAA) — a collaborative network of designers from across the continent — Deshpande decoded the significant dimensions of Indian culture through five dominant colours. The collective exhibition was held in Hong Kong this February.

“Asian countries are similar to each other. The alliance encourages exchange of ideas and inspirations that may result in us producing better work. We also collaborate with other institutions to showcase collective exhibitions. TDAA was invited by Hong Kong Design Institute to organise “Colours of Asia”,which aimed at comparative studies of culture by focusing on the use of colours across various Asian countries,” she says.

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Deshpande spent nine months on the project,scanning the city and travelling to Mumbai,Kolkata,Chennai,Delhi and Bangalore to source exhibits.“India is full of so many colours that it was an ordeal to settle on just five to represent our culture. After much research and many brainstorming sessions with my team of designers,we picked the primary colours – red,blue and yellow — and then added green. We treated black and white as one colour,which was our fifth selection,” she says.

The exhibition was divided into different sections for each of the 13 designers to showcase a range of paintings,artefacts,objects and photographs in five colours that represent beliefs,rites of passage defining the society,architecture,design,heritage,food,language,literature and diverse expressions of the country they represent.

At the exhibition,Deshpande observed that the most common colour across all Asian countries was red,a symbol of something sacred and auspicious. “Interestingly,I found that Asian countries do not bind themselves to a particular colour. Just like ours,Asian culture as a whole is very multi-coloured. While Thailand has a different colour dedicated to each day of the week,Korea has a system of symbolism that consists of five colours,” says Deshpande,adding that the multi-coloured culture is now fading.

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She recounts that at a square in Tokyo,people would stand during peak hours and record the prevalent fashion of the time. “In the ’40s,the street would be a riot of colours with people wearing traditional dresses,but now they are seen more in black and white and have done away with the kimono. It is all an influence of globalisation. Today,if you stand on a busy street in Paris,all you will see is people wearing black clothes,” says Deshpande.

Eager about the exhibition travelling to Thailand soon,the designer shares that right now,she is busy editing a book on the exhibition which will be released in a few months.

First published on: 29-03-2013 at 01:45:09 am
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