NEW DELHI: A tall gold sculpture of a kangaroo by Ashish Bajoria and Suman Kanodia’s Scarlet Splendour is a show stealer. The slick tuxedo it’s wearing has buttons are actually knobs when tugged, open to reveal a secret bar cabinet. Neighbours of this Matteo Cibic piece of functional design include the Dandelion Pendant Lamp in banana fibre by Bengaluru-based brand Oorjaa; tantric themed brass platters from IKKIS by Gunjan Gupta; and a long, sort of tongue-like low table and a wiry thin floor lamp from Delhi-based Project 810.
It appears together, this eccentric bunch is placed in the right cluster, Whimsy & Joy. And Whimsy & Joy is just one of the six design clusters – including Nostalgia & Memory, Conscious Consumption, Handcrafted Luxury and Simplicity & Accessibility) at the design exhibition What’s Your Story? This show in turn occupies a large space in one of the pavilions of the prestigious India Design ID, an annual design festival held at Okhla NSIC Grounds. This eighth edition has a stellar lineup of speakers, elaborate booths by 120 design brands, and over 20 art installations.
Curated by Bengaluru-based couple, architect Sandeep Khosla (Sandeep Khosla & Associates) and graphic designer Tania Singh Khosla (TSK Associates), the show is quite the departure from a traditional white cube showcasing. So, no lengthy wall texts, sculptures on plinths, etc. Instead, 30 objects handpicked by the Khoslas are clustered as a group of five. Each cluster has whimsical partitions – tiled walls that curve, slope, have gaping holes that offer a peak-a-boo of the objects. One viewer was overheard saying that the overall layout reminded him of the Jantar Mantar’s architecture.
“These tiles are not stone, but cast stone,” Sandeep points to the ochre walls. “This young outfit in Ahmedabad, Artemis, takes dust from quarries that is otherwise discarded into landfills or rivers, and uses that as an aggregate to make their own stone.” From September 2019, Sandeep and Tania began choosing and connecting with brands to chalk the final lineup. “The design community in India is quite small,” says Tania. “Even if you didn’t know them personally, you can still reach out and connect. Its people we know, or saw at design shows, then got in touch and asked what new stuff they are doing… The products we chose are beautiful, but also have compelling back stories. Like Nila House [a nonforprofit geared at reviving craft traditions, mainly with indigo dye]. I just happened to be in Jaipur when they opened…I just stumbled upon it. They were very excited to come here.”
That said, one design facet the couple found themselves constantly steering towards but consciously kept pulling themselves out off is all things handcrafted. “Although ‘handcrafted’ aesthetically resonated with us, we didn’t want to do a show that looked at objects only through the lens of craft. As a user, you don’t necessarily love something because it’s handcrafted, though it might connect with you on different levels. We are caught in this constant cycle of making and consuming...things are so disposable, so what makes an object add/bring value to your life? So, we looked at the objects on how they made us feel, how we responded to them,” recalls Tania, and Sandeep continues the thought, “Does it make us feel happy? Nostalgic? Delighted? Surprised? Does it reach out to us because it’s handcrafted? It’s story impacts a community?” Along with Rooshad Shroff’s carved marble lights, another highlight are the Khoslas’ very own creation for Jaipur Rugs – reimagined Kolam carpets. Till: February 16 At: Okhla NSIC Grounds
(Left) Curators of What’s Your Story? Tania Singh Khosla and Sandeep Khosla; (From top) the Whimsy & Joy cluster of design objects; Matta Coffee tables by Gunjan Gupta; Symmetrical single seater swing called Coccoon by P.O.D. Pieces of Desire; and a Channapatna Chair by Sanguru Design Objects Pvt Ltd., inspired from the town famous for its wood-lacquered toys.