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The Goddess and her temporary shelter

Goddess Durga is worshiped in Calcutta. Just like Ganpati is said to descend during its Festival in Maharastha, Goddess Durga is said to descend onto Earth during this time. Months of preparation goes into  conceptualizing these temporary shelters for the Goddess, known as the pandal. A pandal “hopping” in early hours of morning helped me get these pictures above. These structures are a fascinating treat to the eyes.

A more critical analysis is given on my other blog, Pursuit of Imagination, as the post titled ” Five lessons in Installation Art 101 with Puja Pandal Hopping

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Kolkata Colours

Driving down the main and busy streets of Kolkata , you sometimes miss the beautiful architecture hidden behind the many wires of our civilized world and the din of our technological motors. Look closely, you see the pattern, colors and story behind it.

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Baby you can drive my car… Part II

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Continuation of previous Post.

Bombay is the heart of cinema in India, called Bollywood, aka Hollywood.

“You have such wonderful interiors!”. I gaped soaking in the ambiance contrasting to the shabby exterior.

“You have wonderful taste!Where did you get these prints from?”

“They took the car and covered it themselves. No charge to me.”

“How many such cars are there?”

“About five of us, I guess!”

I snapped the pictures of these living canvases of Bollywood personas before alighting.

Running a quick search on the net, discovered an artist behind Taxi Fabric. Interesting.

 

 

“Aajaa meri gaadi mein baith ja”… Part I

Saturday morning is generally quite lazy. After a few kilometers walk and a cup of beverage, it is more so. Rather than walking back, I decide to take a cab. Saturday morning at 8.00 am is in no way a good time to find a cab easily on Nariman point. Overpriced Merus and Cool cabs line against the street, waiting for an unassuming tourist to step out from Trident. I am in no mood to pay price of a Starbucks coffee for the short commute, so do what comes naturally to many Bombayites; hail a kaali peeli.

Kaali-Peeli , translated : Yellow-Black cab; comes in many versions. Gone are the days of the oversized Ambassador, the linear Fiat; now we see stout Korean brands, most newly bought; zipping past and stopping only if they like where you are going. (!)

So, when I spotted a kaali peeli, I got a bit disheartened.

“The old Fiat!” I sighed and waved to the driver.

He caught my eye and soon trudged down the road with his 1990’s engine roaring while I waited impatiently.

I almost shut my eyes while I mumbled out the destination.

It was just a moment, …then…Blink! Blink!

My seat was a canvas of colour. Bollywood colours and dialogues made me a captive audience.

Then I asked him about the interiors.

( to be continued tomorrow)

Vibrant morning!

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Its early Sunday morning. Sounds of Traditional Drums. Bright orange turbans. Carpeted stretch of road. Loudspeakers blare music. An MC somewhere in the distance. Selfie Point! Runners. Lycra Sportswear. Branded footwear. French perfumes.

Pavement dwellers watch the show from the comfort of their (un)homes, lying on the cardboard sheet which is their bed.

“A Marathon?” Trying to make sense of what is this fuss about.”Whats that?”

 

Honey Trap. Neckpiece inspired by the 70’s #movie DON.

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That’s Helen. Belonging to an era where the vamp was separate from the heroine in the Indian Cinema. Indian cinema seems to be celebrating 100 years this year. I happened to go through a book by film Historian Feroze Rangoonwala, in an equally quaint library in colaba, chronicling the movie history upto the current,which was then 1978. It was surprising, he gave only a picture mention in the entire book to the movie Don, of Amitabh Bacchan who was later catapulted to became a superstar. He mentioned ” a crime thriller” “current star” “villager becomes a smuggler don”.

I took the essence of the movie as a study, the trademark scarf worn by Zeenat Aman, the leading lady and combined the two into the “Honey Trap”, using current 2014 trend in vogue of precious gems. Only the ring worn in the picture is from the original song, the rest of the pieces are a sketch of “what if”.. “had been now” variety. The motif on the collar is inspired by the pattern on the background wall.

Radiant orchid in Goa

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We designers look at colors a bit differently. We study their tonal values, their saturation levels, effect of their juxtaposition with other colors and sometimes even give them names. So when I came across a particularly rich colored building in an otherwise drab street in Goa, I screamed in my mind: Radiant Orchid!!

Well, that’s the name of the “Color of the year” for 2014 given by Pantone. And this happened to be around 2014. But I’m not sure the painter or the contractor had this in their mind while commissioning these hues for the building. I’m not even sure whether we follow this colour forecast or any other in India. We have plenty other parameters to think about.(like the availability of the color again).

Goa is a visual treat with its colourful homes. The merciless rains almost 6 months a year also ensure that the buildings are painted frequently. So we find not only Radiant Orchid, but chartreuse, blues and greens of different hues, ruby reds, bright oranges, tangerine to coral and a myriad of yellows.

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For those who don’t experiment with colour, they stick to the burnt sienna roofs and crisp white exteriors. I remember a traditional home on a street going towards Altino hill. It was hard to miss. Not because of its well maintained exterior (I don’t suppose they could afford painting it every year) but because of the drumbeats.The teenager would sit at his drum set and beat on his cymbals every afternoon. He would keep the window open to let in the air and was impossible to miss his routine if you did pass this street.

One day he was not heard again. A few months.. and the house was covered from all sides. A few months later, the sound of a new building being constructed, replaced the sounds of the beat and cymbals. Dust and grime replaced the shaded breeze of the coconut tree in the backyard.Few more months and a hotel came up rather rapidly adding to the din of cars, for people who would like to visit Goa(tourists) and see its colours. But I felt as if the colour of this street had disappeared..with the boy and his music.I often wonder where that went.

(Note: the pictures have been pixelated on purpose)

The new Apple IPhone and India?

Apple’s new iphone. Will it make a difference in India compared to other competing brands? The colours seem fresh and new; but for Apple. Fashion history has seen that bright colours like neon are generally short lived trends which last for a couple of years in the classic “fad” phenomena. They peak during their popularity period and then rapidly decline. Remember acid tones, which gained popularity a decade back? Once the fad reached the streets, it quickly exited along with bell sleeves and platform heels. While acid tones have a neutral association, apart from the fact that they look hideous on the majority colour complexions in India, neons don’t have plenty of good associations either. To the typical Indian mind, they are generally associated with bars and night clubs, which is not a very classy association for a premium product. While a niche audience may be willing to experiment with the new phone, the masses may not be comfortable with the phone especially given the estimated price tag of around Rs. 40,000. For a fashion colour. And that too for a plastic body phone. I feel Apple is somewhat lost in It’s positioning with a style and price mismatch for the Indian audience. A new colour is hardly a wow factor, neither is the price alluring. Add to that an operating system that the Indian market is still in learning stage. I don’t see this going much ahead.

My first Interaction with Nokia Research

The news of the Microsoft and Nokia deal has been all over since yesterday amid skepticism and perhaps even criticism. Odds seem heavily stacked against the prospect.  Nokia which had been the market leader in cellphones in India for many years, had recently been replaced by Samsung on the top spot. But inspite of that, Nokia still has one of the best brand recall in the country upto the interiors of India.

Some years back, when Nokia was still placed as the global leader in cellphone space, I had the good fortune of meeting researchers from their labs. As I was then heading the Accessories department in Delhi NIFT, my immediate thought was to get our students learning fashion accessories to be involved  a short project that NOKIA labs was then conducting in India. So while the rest of NIFT was on summer vacation, a group of our students and some faculty got the opportunity to be part of the process of understanding the Indian market as part of a larger “Future Urban Project”.

It was then we were sensitized to the various in-depth research methods that mobile phone companies employ and amazed by the future oriented outlook that NOKIA had. While Android has undoubtedly taken over due to its ease of use, the understanding that NOKIA has about local markets such as India, gained from systematically studying the ethnic intricacies and their needs is something which may give it competitive advantage in its new story, especially in the emerging markets.

Microsoft too is a household name in India, so this deal might be one to watch out for in the long run.

 

5 Myths of Design that don’t apply today!

Design is a relatively new field compared to Art. But with new technology and changing world there are 5 things that I learned (and later taught) at D-school which seem to have lost their relevance in today’s world and have become “Old School”.

1. If you can’t draw it, you can’t make it.

Nothing can be a bigger myth. This seemingly innocent statement that teachers use to encourage their fresh pupils to practice more drawing has lost its relevance compared to the Corel and Rhino equipped generation of today. Not only is hand drawing a skill that is used less and less, most exploratory work is done hands on or with CAM, rather than on paper.

2. Don’t use eraser, Don’t use scale.

Another Myth. It was fine till the first few lessons of drawings. Or in the era when you had ample time to sit and sketch endlessly by hand and communicate hand drawn designs. But beyond that, a clear representation of ideas is more important and so if it requires eraser and scale, so be it. Afterall it’s a now a “pre-sketch” for your CAD .

3. It should be your original idea.

It times of Co-creation, collaborative projects and open innovation; an individuals idea may be lacking compared to the richness a project gets from collaborative work which is designed by a community. A single individuals contribution could be worked upon and made better by others as well and no one person takes credit for the entire process. To think of it, an idea is only successful if others also believe in it!

4. Follow the process. Show the process.

While it may be a great idea to show a process in order to explain your final design to an international jury for getting an award and for other such events, Design methods can be very limiting and restraining, unless you allow them to be iterative and continuous. Most common people are not equipped to understand a design method, they can only appreciate the result and you can bring that to them any which way.

5. It’s all in the presentation

In a world of presentation , this is an understatement. The presentation is not a separate activity. It is not something you do afterwards, after the design process has ended. The presentation IS the design and part of the process and you don’t need to do many things to justify it if what you came up with is a great product!