Sār: The Essence of Indian Design
An extract from Sār: The Essence of Indian Design by Swapnaa Tamhane and Rashmi Varma
We believe that the kitchen utensils sitting in our mothers’ and grandmothers’ cabinets inform our collective memories and have extended stories to tell us — and to tell others. For those in India and of the diaspora, the relationship with objects, recipes, ways of living or modes of dress is mediated through time and space; the stories that these objects tell can be communicated through their design.
A newfound energy in contemporary Indian design has permeated graphics, illustration, fashion and product design, fuelled by a new economy, and dare we say, a renewed pride in being ‘Indian’. Contemporary designers are inspired by what surrounds them on the street, in the home — even on the dashboard of an autorickshaw — everything that, in totality, forms the collective memory and visual landscape of India. An awareness of these surroundings, combined with a new confidence to look inside the country for inspiration rather than outside it, has helped create what can be recognized as a new generation of designers. Against the background of a complicated history of economics and political manoeuvres, which continues to unfold, these designers are reconsidering the identity of Indian design.
Sār: The Essence of Indian Design is a curated collection of everyday objects that reflects this complex identity and creates a platform for such dialogue. It is compiled from overlooked everyday items and a selection of contemporary pieces inspired by them. Some of the objects originate from outside India owing to economic and government policies and have since been appropriated into Indian society; others are influenced by external cultures in terms of their materials, use or techniques; but all tell a story of the nature of harmonious cultural synthesis.