Located in Garhwal region is the capital of the revered Dev Bhoomi; awash with nature’s bounty this is a slice of heaven on earth, no wonder people throng to this place for creating everlasting memories; memories of love, life and adventure.
“Design is about people and their environments, design is very participatory, it encourages integration of individual ideas with larger goals, it is intuitive and reactionary,” says Joshua Paljor Hisey, Principal Designer from Studio Alaya. The studio is located at Kairwaan, a peri-urban village in Uttarkhand right at the foothills of the Himalayas with walking trails, trees full of chirping birds and seasonal flowers.
Joshua believes design brings people together as it is a process closely linked to humanity. As citizens of a multicultural, multisensory world his effort is to create objects based on experiences that find resonance across various cultures.
Alaya Design Studio was initiated in 2005 as a design-led social enterprise where design and development concerns could find a mutual balance. Having worked in the Industrial Design as well as the crafts sector for several years, Joshua and Richa Ghansiyal (who joined the firm as a partner in 2008) were keen to translate their passion for ‘social design’ into a more active role. This passion resulted in a series of eco-friendly products which are both timeless and nostalgic.
A graduate in Industrial Design from the Kendall College of Art & Design, Michigan, USA, Joshua has worked with various firms as a Product Designer. Joshua’s work was showcased in the “Young Creative Entrepreneurs Award” hosted by the British Council of India in September 2010. His partner Richa holds a Masters Degree in
Rural Development from the University of Sussex, UK. Prior to that, she graduated in Industrial Design with a specialisation in Furniture Design from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, India. She has also been a recipient of the Ford Foundation International Fellowship in 2005.
Joshua and Richa chose to put emphasis on sustainability and renewability and this is visible from the choice of raw materials as well as the kind of processes used in transforming them for a particular product.
A range of natural fibres including nettle, industrial hemp, bamboo, seasonal grasses and other non-timber forest produce are put to exciting use. These raw materials are procured from local communities and producers.
A bulk of the work in the studio embodies the traditional flavour. Joshua says, “We work a lot with traditional crafts persons, many of whom reside in rural settlements spread across far flung remote areas within Uttarakhand. From Tamta artisans in Kumaon region to Rana Tharu women who do seasonal grass basketry in the Terai region; we prefer to work locally with the producer communities.”
“At the same time, we also work a lot in the urban areas especially with informal sector workers and micro level producers like metal smiths, wood carvers, weavers, candle makers etc” he adds.
Studio Alaya also designs customised products. The clarity of purpose and shared vision when conceptualising the product’s design as well as the kind of finish and detail required for the product is of great importance to them.
Though a number of products are designed locally in collaboration with the traditional designer, Studio Alaya also has an in-house workshop focusing on prototype development and making bamboo and natural fibre furniture and handicrafts.
“We began this workshop as a training initiative for local youth in our area, working with those who were school drop-outs etc. In the next two years, we plan to expand our in-house facility to include more special skills,” adds Richa.
Studio Alaya’s principle is to work with fellow team members in a generous partnership, wherein the artisan and the designer work as equals, each bringing their special skills and knowing how to create a unique product.
The studio’s body of work can be seen in some of the most innovative and lauded ecotourism based hospitality projects in the Himalayan region-such as the Vana Retreat, Leti 360 by Shakti Himalayas, Atali Ganga (Aquaterra), Due North cottages, Wayfarer and Himalayan Safari as well as the Stok Palace in Ladakh.
A sojourn to the Himalayas may not be immediately on your cards but eventually when it happens, do visit this store. Apart from rejuvenating your senses, you will be enamoured by the exceptional(eco-friendly) products which can grace your abode or can be gifted to connoisseurs of good design. For the rest feel free to get in touch with these designer’s with a purpose.
Text By Vikas Bhadra
Alaya Design Studio
94 Old Rajpur, Rajpur Rd,
Kairwaan Gaon, Dehradun,
mob: +91 7895581115