An exhibition focused on showcasing Dharavi’s thriving potential and creative prowess, Design Museum Dharavi seeks to encourage social change and innovation in this urban village.
Initiated in February 2016 in Dharavi, Mumbai, Design Museum Dharavi is a platform for creating, designing, manufacturing and commercialising all kinds of goods and their makers, so they can be recognised by the local community, the city of Mumbai and the rest of the world. Its main mission is to employ design as a tool to promote social change and innovation, and to challenge the negative perception of informal settlements around the world.
Over the past decades, local makers, entrepreneurs and innovators have contributed to turn Dharavi into a story of success and self-improvement. The Design Museum Dharavi aims to establish new links between Dharavi and the rest of the city, promoting a greater exchange through a cultural program that features several workshops and exhibitions.
Their mission is to focus on Dharavi’s potential and, through design, showcase it as what it really is: an exciting and promising creative community, full of potential and room for development. It is funded by two Dutch cultural foundations, Creative Industries Fund NL and The Art Of Impact.
Amanda Pinatih, co-founder of Design Museum Dharavi says, “Dharavi is reinventing itself on a daily basis. This inspired us to create a nomadic exhibition space that operates as an exhibition venue and meeting point for cultural exchange and innovation.”
“The museum travels on a pushcart, similar to those used by locals to distribute and sell all kinds of goods and products. Absolutely everything, from the cart wheels to its metal frame, wooden doors, plinths, lights, Museum sign and of course the products exhibited, are proudly made in Dharavi.”
Design Museum Dharavi engages with local makers in new collaborations, exploring their creativity and designing new objects for public exhibitions. The showcased objects reflect new creative directions for these local makers, portraying their identity and that of their communities in surprising and original ways.
The museum opened with an exhibition inspired by local themes and everyday symbols such as chai and water containers and brooms. The second exhibition featured a street cricket tournament, where richly hand embroidered uniforms and stunning hand carved wooden bats were not only displayed but also put into action.
“Our first exhibition mostly featured ceramic pieces. We worked with the Chauhan family who were into the pottery business since several generations and together focused on two central themes around Dharavi: chai and water containers,” shares co-founder, Jorge Mañes Rubio.
New typologies were created around the variety of chai containers used in Dharavi, while water containers that were mostly chubby and bulky with minimum room for improvisation were given a new twist by stacking them on top of one another.
The next exhibitions and workshops are programmed for the next couple of months in Dharavi (the themes will be ‘houses’, showcasing models made by real contractors from Dharavi, and design/castes); and a conference will be held in summer 2016 in Amsterdam, where the results of the Design Museum Dharavi will be exhibited and discussed.
Text Compiled By Rehana Hussain
Photographs By Design Museum Dharavi