The word ‘design’ encapsulates both a tangible, visual, material entity as well as an abstract order and an area that continues to baffle me. What exactly constitutes design? These two connotations of the word define design in its noun and its verb, the end product and the process, safely locating its understanding at a confluence of both and this issue of TAKE on art dedicated to design attempts to provide an understanding from this vantage point. Without trying to necessarily focus on the historiography or attempt such an elaborate project that would be unable to do justice to all manifestations of its avatars, given its ubiquitous and universal presence, we have tried to remain informed of such a history of design, going back to its defining presence in shaping Western Modernism through influential movements such as Constructivism, Bauhaus, Art Deco and so on. Also taken account of is the relationship industrial design has with craft and indigenous aesthetics in India, reflecting upon this history through its resonances in contemporary design contexts. Seems true, as our guest editor Mayank Mansingh Kaul has pointed out in his editorial note, design hasn’t received enough attention in terms of scholarly scrutiny. Probably a victim of its own practicality and investment in function which might have eclipsed any call for leisurely discourse, the apparent focus of a lot of the academic interest in Design centres around technical instruction and aesthetics which leaves out design enthusiasts who might want to appreciate design for the effort behind it, its conception and its visual appeal as it strives towards desired ends.
TAKE Design seeks out these enthusiasts as our pages feature designers from varied fields including Communication Design (Thoughtshop Foundation), Furniture Design (Gunjan Gupta) and Graphic Design (Ishan Khosla); others who contemplate the state of design and its history such as Suchitra Balasubramanyan, Avinash Rajagopal, Maithili Parekh, Jahnvi Dameron Nandan and Srishti Bajaj; and those who throw light on the process of design thinking as Ira Raja and Ken Botnick, Parmesh Shahani, and Nina Sabnani have attempted to do. Furthermore, to include what would concern this design enthusiast the most, rendering such a figure as neither prematurely envisioned nor deprived of such material until now, we have carried interviews with those who have grappled with curating or editing (as Peter Nagy prefers to call it) design, showcasing diverse objects at shows for this reader – Peter Nagy talks about the shows ‘Ad Infinitum’ and ‘Voluptuary Tastes’ at the Nature Morte galleries (New Delhi and Gurgaon); Alice Cicolini describes the challenges and result of her show with the British Council ‘Global Local,’ one of the earliest of such ventures and Divia Patel recounts the work in progress for her show ‘India Design Now,’ planned for 2013. An issue on design cannot compromise on the visual feast that it can be. Photo essays by Sumant Jayakrishnan (who also happens to be the space designer of the 4th editionof the much-awaited India Art Fair), Anupam Poddar, Abhishek Poddar, Manisha Gera Baswani on Anupama Lalwani’s brainchild en Inde and Vivan Sundaram’s latest feat GAGAWAKA: Making Strange, provide just that.
‘Design’ as a theme has always been much called on for TAKE, a venture that is in sync with the spirit of the magazine, an opportunity to negotiate the boundaries of notions of ‘Art’ and the chance to assert design’s place within it, especially given my personal interest in the subject. Ranging from textile to furniture and architecture, contemporary visual trends and aesthetics overlap and intertwine with art. My passion for keeping up with the flow of such sensibilities, especially fashion and textile evolved into this ambitious project, in collaboration with the guest editor whose know-how when it comes to design practices made this issue a reality.
Along with our ‘curated section’ we have our regular dose of reviews, interviews and reports as Diana Campbell allows us a ‘Trek through Sculpture Parks’, Dr. Alka Pande expounds the buzz around the Delhi Photo Festival, the Phantom Lady unfailingly strikes yet again and Manisha Gera Baswani returns with Fly on the Wall. For TAKE 2012, look out for our new series of Ekphrasis, Greek for poetry on art, by Himali Singh Soin; specially commissioned by TAKE, each poem is inspired by a work of art, and mimics its rhythm to find the essential energy of the work of art in question. A different form of criticism. The series is called ‘The Universe’, and evokes that umbilical connection between us and art, between the larger cosmos and you.
As part of the summit excitement, an account of Rajesh Punj’s conversation with Rashid Rana gives us a sneak peak into the solo booths featuring his work. And TAKE has asserted its presence in newer territories with its official launch in Goa, made its mark at Art HK, Basel, and revisited Art Stage Singapore, and our TAKE Editions boast of two new additions – Lamps by Jagannath Panda and Palettes by George Martin for your collection. Like every year, the India Art Fair kicks off with our party launching the new issue, this time at Sura Vie and as an added touchto the focus of the issue – Design, we are collaborating with Abraham and Thakore for their site – specifc installation at our launch venue. If this isn’t enough excitement, we are also announcing the launch of TAKE Award with the Creative India Foundation in the field of Sculpture.
We wish all our readers a wholesome year ahead.