The young breed of Indian designers is conscientious of blending cultural lineage with their modernist leanings and NID alumnus Hardik Gandhi is leading this pack at the moment. After working as a senior designer with Godrej Interio for five years Hardik moved on to start his own firm DesignGandhi in 2011.
His work is actually a cross-pollination of the old and the new; DesignGandhi products are modern offsets of our culture and it may reflect in the material, technique, form or pattern that they use in their designs. The firm subtly digresses from the mundane and revitalises simple modest techniques into modern, more flamboyant versions – a fitting example of this is Xcent stool which is Hardik’s contemporary take on the traditional ‘modha’.
Their motto is simple – ‘respect the function and delight the user’. Hence their ‘made to measure, smart and simple’ designs have a vibrant edge that sits well with the contemporary audience.
Though DesignGandhi is still in its nascent stage the firm shows remarkable potential and here Hardik talks about his inspirations, ideologies and aspirations.
What is design to you? And according to you, what role does it play in the ecosystem?
Design to me is an idea of comfort made to look beautiful. At the same time, it is not subjective; a good design is a catalyst that makes life simple and conducive for masses and the classes. It can actually bring change; make mundane objects, systems and communication more desirable, meaningful and utilitarian.
DesignGandhi is a fairly young firm, which is currently on the cusp of achieving greater things. With young restless minds at work, how do the creative energies get streamlined? What’s the work routine at DesignGandhi?
‘DesignGandhi’ is a philosophy. We want to make every boring object around us sexy, stylish and smart. As individuals, we keep exploring ways to make these objects more interactive with materials, prints, light, structure and technology. We give the objects a new meaning and character so that it becomes a desirable piece of functional art.
We do follow the design process of define – derive – delight; which entails well rounded thinking, extensive research, exploring and prototyping for each of our projects. At the very core we also want our designs to be accessible to everyone!
We see a considerable use of tessellations, geometric patterns and colour in your work. What is the inspiration behind them?
In India, there are so many cultures, festivals, religions. We as a society are always game for more. We are not afraid of change; we are very experimental with food, clothes and even the colour of our walls. Our seasonality, climate, eclectic genes always attract the intricate. So as an Indian designer I am just following my instinct to be ‘eclectic’.
India is blessed with a rich craft heritage, however we see it is gradually heading towards extinction. According to you, how can designers help sustain this traditional legacy?
As I mentioned before, it’s how we define our tradition. There has to be progression in what we do and we must not restrict ourselves to just one particular form or a craft or a technique from our tradition.
The tradition only becomes moreinteresting and novel if you keep innovating with it, fuse it, mimic it or use it in its pure form. From what I have seen across the world, India is by far the most sustainable country when it comes to preserving our roots and moving ahead with time. It’s distinctly commendable already.
What’s a design constant with you when you conceptualise any product?
It’s a fairly simple thumb rule that we follow – respond to nature, behaviour and body.
Is there a person or a medium (not essentially related to design) that has inspired you in some way?
A medium that has inspired me enormously is “fashion”. I have always been fascinated with how much the fashion industry has explored and experimented with material, techniques, graphics and constructions just around the human body. When I look at these explorations it inspires me and thrills me constantly.
Is there a material or a technique that you would love to explore in future?
For a designer to pick one material in their lifetime is tough and unfair. Nonetheless, today if I have to choose one then I would say, I’d love to explore “khaadi’ in the near future.
A product/design by another designer that you like and why?
Undoubtedly Eames Molded Plywood Guest Chair by legendary designer duo Charles & Ray Eames.
10 years down the line, what would you like your work to be recognised for?
I really want people to enjoy my designs. So, I would love if by 2025, 1.3 billion (many more by that time) Indians end up experiencing my creations and embrace it in their everyday living.
What are you currently working on?
I am working on FMCG products, a forthcoming exhibition in February 2015, and few branding assignments.
On a lighter note:
Is there any adventure which you always wanted to embark on?
I love travelling. So, Kilimanjaro, a dormant volcanic mountain in Tanzania is next on my bucket list.