Monday, January 19, 2009

Searching for Indian in India

In visits to stores I sometimes find a striking absence of Indian influence and heritage in design. This is a nuanced issue and I hope my perspective comes across in the right spirit .

India has a beautiful and rich heritage of design . From aesthetics to a holistic product design that encompasses the life cycle of the product . Add to it the fact that each state / region of India has it's own distinct culture and design heritage . This makes for a treasure trove of inspiration and influence on a wide range of product and space designs - clothing , furniture , home accessories , interiors , public spaces , malls . The list can be creatively expanded as the applications are numerous .

For a country with such a rich design heritage there isn't much of it visible in modern retail - whether in the design of the spaces or a lot of the products (exception being Indian dresses and saris ). With the possible exception of FabIndia there are hardly any national retailers that have India inspired design reflected their stores and products (again exception being Indian dresses / saris ). And of the some that do attempt India inspired design in part of the range they end up skimming the surface rather than bringing forth unusual aspects of the craft form or the design heritage .

In attempting to make spaces and products that are 'modern' the end result is a somewhat sterile and generic look (Mall A = Mall B = Mall C and Product A = Product B = Product C ) opening the doors wide for low buzz , price competition and gradual loss of one's beautiful heritage in one's physical environment. 

Even if we forget the heritage angle there is an aesthetic need to make spaces and products have personality and distinctiveness !

1 comment:

Neelakantan said...

Thats true all across - right from the architecture to layout to products.

Big Bazaar actually thinks its clutter is "India". How I would love a "mall" that is unabashedly Indian, but no, nobody has thought of that yet.

Indeed, each of those sub cultures can easily be fitted into a mall...Phenomenal scope there, but then who will go against the grain of glass buildings and "me too" merchandise.

PS: This is similar to your observation on our airports...And it can well be stretched to everything I guess.