Thursday, September 15, 2011

New York Spring and Fall Collection

Page from Anthropologie India Spring Catalog
I am back in New York after a four month sojourn in Goa. If you read my last post, then you know that the project in Goa is progressing on-track and it was (somewhat) safe for me to travel across continents and get my seasonal dose of inspiration, motivation and aggression from New York. More than anything New York makes me push myself. New Yorkers are super-beings, who manage high paced jobs, families, friends while looking great all the time and being in the know on everything... it is a lot of pressure to be all that but New Yorkers do it so effortlessly and I love them for it. When I am in New York, I feel that anything is possible.. It empowers me and gives me another tiny push to continue to follow my passion.

For the past year now, I have been spending around 3-4 months in Goa working on a pilot development project and then a month or so back in New York. Lines are beginning to get blurred now about where home is, what I expect to find in my fridge, friends and conversations...

When in New York, my main agenda (apart from continuing to micro-manage the Goa project) is to see, hear and learn so I continue to get inspired, find ways to put new ideas to work and not let the little things bring me down. The idea is to think big picture, learn from innovations from around the world and absorb the energy from my favorite city.

Interestingly, in Spring I was in New York for the Festival of Ideas and this time around my trip coincides with the Urban Design Week and Climate Week but I narrowly miss the Architecture and Design month...

On my last trip in Spring, I was struck by the focus on India in several places where I typically look for inspiration. I found that more people are looking towards India with hope, attempting to unravel its complexities, blend in with India's treasures in culture, design, history and diversity. Here are a few notable encounters:

Poster for 'Jugaad Urbanism', an exhibition at Center for Architecture in New York
1. 'Jugaad Urbanism', an exhibition at the Center for Architecture. As the name suggests the exhibition and related programs highlighted the innovation in urban design, architecture and building material found in unlikely places in India often without assistance from design and construction professionals or public funding. The exhibition was interesting; I particularly remember a study on the Chawls in Mumbai, with an extensive report and a detailed graphic documentation. More here.

But to tell you honestly, I have very little patience for long studies of problems and solutions that are merely theoretical, snazzy difficult to understand design solutions, and solutions with no implementation plans. Not sure why but solutions from design professionals in India often lack thought on implementation. Most people actually do not care about that aspect at all. I am not saying that theoretical exercises are wrong but only that I have little patience for them as I feel that the time to take action is NOW.

2. Anthropologie May fashion catalog on India. Anthropologie which is on of my favourite stores picked India as the location and inspiration for their Spring catalog and I have to tell you, the design, photography and fashion blew me away. It made me so proud of being Indian. After looking at that catalog, I bet everyone in the world wanted to be that girl in India. It was a skewed version of reality. But design is for dreamers and the Anthropologie catalog urged us to dream on. Sadly, I can’t seem to find the catalog anywhere online, but you can see some more pictures here
Cover Page of Wallpaper Magazine June 2011
3. 'Reborn in India', June issue of the Wallpaper magazine. Wallpaper did an entire issue solely looking at design in India. It highlighted fashion, furniture and architectural design. It was great to get the focus on an international platform but for me the compilation left a lot more to be desired. I felt that they took the easy route and covered all the established big names in the industry. I agree that the big names in the industry have earned it. But I would have personally liked to see a bit more from the new, emerging designers who are either innovating new ways of thinking, or resurrecting traditional techniques and design while working with local craftsman and artists. See more here.

Excerpt from book, 'To India with Love: From New York to Mumbai'
4. Finally, came across the book 'To India with Love: From New York to Mumbai' at a cafe in the Village. Another dreamy collection of India experiences and inspirations from global designers, travellers and revellers presented with great kitschy style. I loved reading through it. You can find some excerpts here. 

The agenda for this trip is to: WATCH Spiderman on Broadway; LISTEN to speakers about Leveraging technology in the design process, Governance in Hyderabad and alleviating poverty; VISIT the Brooklyn Flea market and New Dekalb market (built with shipping containers); and SEE Public art by Sol Lewitt.

Hopefully, I will be able to blog about at least a few of these, so stay tuned.

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