Gunjan Gupta is a Masters Graduate in Furniture Design from Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, London and has practiced interior design for 8 years before she became focused on the bespoke furniture she was designing for her clients. Based out of New Delhi, Gunjan founded Wrap Art & Design in 2006 and has since been an active proponent of sustaining craft in India through her practice. She has been recognized for her effort in repositioning the ‘Made in India’ brand internationally. Gunjan Gupta will be exhibiting her work at the upcoming Milan Furniture Fair at Ventura Lambrate from the 17th – 22nd of April 2012.
What is the one thing you like most about being a designer?
Like any other profession, being a designer gives you a path to follow. In the case of the designer it is quite a fun path of incredible travel/research/reading and meeting people. There is a lot of freedom in being a designer and it is a profession that has a strong business quotient to it, and I find that quite interesting. Unlike an artist, a designer has to move the work beyond its fine art qualities into a reproducible format while keeping an eye on the quality and market responses. In India, the profile of a designer is even more dynamic – a design entrepreneur creates his/her own creative direction, manufacturing and sales platforms and often has to act as the business and marketing head.
How did your design career start? Do you have a formal education in design?
My design career started as a young girl of 10 when my mother would ask me to lay the table for guests and I would create a unique dining experience with different unexpected elements from the house. I enjoyed it a lot and thereby began my journey of uniting discordant materials and experiences. I have a design diploma in interior design from Sophia Polytechnic in Mumbai where I learnt the mere basics of spatial design and then went onto do my Masters in furniture design at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design in London.
What projects are you currently working on?
We are showing a landmark collection of furniture design in Milan at a very cutting edge space in the company of the world’s most exciting designers/ design companies. We have expanded to include a bespoke manufacturing facility that focuses on artisanal development and a unique design gallery at our facility in Mehrauli.
The company has expanded to include interior and spatial design with project execution abilities inhouse. We are taking on interior projects in the residential, corporate and hospitality sector and lending our USP of innovative and culturally led design to the projects.
How has your experience been participating in International design events?
International design events really allow you to push the boundaries in your field. I love the exchange and pride that one feels in their own culture. When we participated in an International Design event for Droog Design in Amsterdam, we did a cycle recycle workshop with the inhabitants of Amsterdam and the experience resulted in the iconic bicycle thrones that we are known for. International design events allow you to express yourself culturally.
Any driving principles on design?
I am big proponent of culturally led design – I actively use local materials, methods and narratives in my work whether it is for product design or large interior projects. I think it makes the project unique and very international. Also, when working with local skills and materials – you connect with the larger picture of social and material sustainability.
Why do you think there are such few Indian furniture designers? Any advice for them?
Furniture Design requires a huge commitment on the part of the designer – there is the functional side which is quite intense as it involves ergonomics / culture and individual lifestyle. Then there is the technical side which is quite rudimentary in India. Indian furniture companies don’t believe in quality construction but believe in a thick coat of polish that hides every nick and error. This attitude has prevented India from creating a niche for itself inspite of its rich heritage of crafts.
The trade is generally driven by Interior designers / architects that want readymade solutions for furniture and are quite happy catalogue shopping from large companies abroad and this leaves the furniture designer in a very difficult situation. I think there are several factors but these are the main ones why this industry has not gone beyond its very basic premise.
What would you like to change about the city you live in?
Amsterdam is my model city for design and each time I visit it, I love the influence of design everywhere. Right from the fabulously designed signage on the streets to the benches / garbage bins, design sculptures to the museums, restaurants and galleries– its incredible how design alters the very experience of the city. There is a certain uniqueness – its all very modern, fresh and very Dutch! Similarly, I would like Delhi to create its own unique experience through design.