Connecting to stimulate
Once a month at Lopez Design we throw open our studio doors to other creative and academic professionals, coming together as a group to collaborate and exchange experiences. We invite experts in their field to make presentations and share their work philosophy and projects. This January, we had four participants – Architect Vrinda Jariwala, Social entrepreneur Tanveen Ratti, Artist and Illustrator Uttam Sinha and Rat-LAB founder Architect Sushant Verma. Our team reports on the January 2016 Saturday Forum.
Preservation in changing times
Vrinda Jariwala is a Conservation Architect who runs her architectural practice called Designkari Studio, a partnership firm in Delhi. Jariwala did her Masters from the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi and is also the coordinator for S.P.A. Conservation Alumni Network. She did her final year thesis on ‘Revitalising of traditional knowledge systems for material and building conservation of Araaish’, which is a fine lime finish of Jaipur. Aside of her professional practice, she is an Assistant Professor at Sushant school of Art and Architecture, Gurgaon where she has been teaching since 2014. She did her Bachelors in Architecture from the same school. Her interests in the preservation of historic material had led to her work as a researcher with Bhawna Dandona on ‘Survey and Characterisation of Historic Lakhori Brick in the Mughal period’. She has been involved in conservation projects such as Mughal Riverfront Gardens of Agra – Mehtab Bagh, Madhya Pradesh Monuments Project – Detailed project report for BadshahHalwai, Jabalpur; Garud & Shiv Temple, Gararu, Narsinghpur, Madhya Pradesh and condition assessment of Chatta Bazaar, Redfort.
Vrinda had a lively interaction with the audience, involving all of us during her presentation towards understanding “what is heritage?” and how we as individuals connect with our past as it forms an intrinsic part of our social fabric. We may view ancient monuments as having timeless qualities, but interestingly, Vrinda brought out how monuments are always adapting to societal changes. Over time, the charm of the architecture is lost and the monument tends to recede in the background. Vrinda’s work shapes the building in context to present times by preserving older monuments, buildings and temples with her knowledge of architecture, history and restoration techniques, including knowledge of the right materials. For instance, currently, she is using a traditional material from Rajasthan called araish for building conservation; although it is an expensive lime finish, it can last upto 200 years. Wayfinding and signage are also implemented in some of her projects. Vrinda impressed all of us with her thorough knowledge of history and dedicated passion for her work.
Harnessing traditional wisdom
Tanveen Ratti, the second presenter this Saturday Forum, is a consultant for Women on Wings based in Delhi. She is the founder of Organic Connect, a social enterprise that nurtures hand skills. Tanveen’s organization works with people to harness their unique hand skills, which were acquired through practice and perseverance. The objective of the company is to earn a livelihood by utilizing hand skills and secure pride in our living crafts.
Tanveen shared examples of her work, starting with “The Block Project”. She explained how the Textile Supply Chain functions and shared her experiences of weaving in Orissa, block printing in Sanganer, Rajasthan and how blocks are made in Farrukabad and Pethapur.
The craftsmen require to be very high skilled and Tanveen elaborated on this with the block making industry as a model. As she explains,”The block carving style of Pilkuwa (Farrukabad) can be differentiated from the Pethapur (Gujarat) style by way of chiseling action. While in the Pethapur style, the wood is cut vertically top to bottom to reduce wear and tear while printing, in the Farrukabad style the cross section is angular and hence finer motifs can be chiseled out.”
The Golden Circle concept by Simon Sinek focuses on beginning with “Why” (Reason) before “How” (Process) or “What” (Outcome). Tanveen related this ideology to principles established at Organic Connect, which is essentially about building a culture. Organic Connect’s design methodology uses traditional wisdom to create contemporary design solutions for modern living. The emphasis is on handmade home decor, but more importantly it is about sustainable livelihood options. Production at the outfit is done in collaboration with local artisans based on a profit-sharing model. Tanveen also shared her concerns for business development in the crafts sector through sustained design inputs & design pedagogy. She concluded her session by sharing her goals for 2016. Tanveen’s presentation led to lively interactions with many of us in the audience. She sought feedback on branding, product portfolio and on the demand between utility products versus decorative artwork.
Inspired by feet
Uttam Sinha, an aspiring illustrator and artist, is the man behind the Foot Footie Boy creations. Uttam was the third presenter during our Saturday Forum. After graduating from College of Art in New Delhi, he joined the advertising industry where he worked for four years. Today, he works independently pursuing his love for documenting stories, but a little differently. His Foot Footie Boy project started with a picture of his feet, which he was trying to edit, and he doodled around it to form a story. This inspired Uttam to begin a project creating an illustrative blog revolving around himself, where he freely expresses his bizarre quirks and weird imaginations he has had since childhood. Foot Footie boy features “small shoe stories with a little twist”, as Uttam likes to describe them. These creative illustrations have been reaching the masses through the medium of Facebook and Instagram. The response of the project has been great. People openly express their love for the quirky stories and this is what keeps Uttam going.
Thanks to the latest technology, Uttam communicates with immediacy through his phone. From clicking the photograph of feet, making the doodle around it and posting it back on Instagram and Facebook, Uttam does it all on his phone using various apps for social media and drawings.
He calls his creations ‘a view of the world through his eyes’ and he hopes that he will be able to create more unique and artistic pieces for his followers in the days to come. More than anything, The Foot Footie Boy project satiates Uttam’s thirst for creativity!
Sushant Verma is an architect from the School of Art & Architecture specializing in parametric design. Sushant is the founder of a practice called Rat-LAB. He was the last presenter on the Saturday Forum.
Sushant began his talk by introducing parametric or computational design as the future of design. In reality, only a small percentage of architects in India and around the world use these methods, which tap into the power of current technology and computation, making both the process and the final design extremely efficient. A level below this is Building Information Modeling (BIM), which most firms in India are now aiming to incorporate. This entails designing in 3D and using computer software to work out all sorts of details like drawings, material consumption and other data needed for production. The oldest method is designing in 2D with plans, sections and all other details worked out manually which is no longer efficient. All throughout his talk, many interesting conversations came about on how technology is evolving faster than designers and our way of working – currently most of us just play “catch-up” while we should be keeping pace with technology.
Sushant took us through some of the software and algorithms they use for computational analysis of spaces, effectively predicting user flow, climatic data like heat gain, wind loads, water flow, visual analysis and other parameters based on the geometry of the spaces. This data can be used to make informed design and planning decisions that are backed by facts. Sushant shared some interesting examples of visual & spatial analysis of complexes like IIT Gandhinagar and large urban spaces, where his approach helped to gauge which sites have maximum visibility, easiest approach etc., directly indicating commercial value and quality of space. Such analyses can also be used to calculate technical information such as water flow over a contoured site.
Sushant then spoke about parametric design, which is the creation of algorithms with certain design parameters in mind that make the design process extremely efficient by providing real time evaluation of the designed forms/spaces. This is more advanced than the conventional “designing-prototyping-evaluation-back to design” largely followed and can also be applied to product design.
The Rat-LAB team created an algorithm with parameters like heat gain, street visibility, cost etc. that enabled them to optimize these values since they were evaluated real time corresponding to changes made in the size of the fins, angle and other parts. One such project of theirs is currently being executed in Gurgaon. The software also enabled them to provide accurate and relevant information to the fabricator in the format most suitable for him. Click here to see one of Rat-Lab’s parametric design projects.
Sushant also shared certain projects where the algorithms were employed within the final design itself to collect information from sensors and use this to move parts in certain ways. These kinds of projects also interested us highly and led to possibilities of exciting future collaborations in environment design projects. They could well be fantastic tools to communicate via installations. Click here to see an example of this.
After the talk, there was a discussion amongst all about collaborating for future projects. We all felt the need to find a way of staying in touch and connecting at relevant times without cumbersome social media applications.Written by Sujatha Shankar Kumar with inputs from Ankita Singh, Deekshit Sebastian, Prachi Grover & Anshul Kapoor