It is not often when one comes across a medium where creativity is driven to thrive, where talent is nurtured and path-breaking ideas are born. This inspiring concept sees the light of the day in one firm with an alternate philosophy of enriching creative souls.
Site Art Space, based in Vadodara is an all-inclusive powerhouse which provides a platform for young artists, organises workshops, talks and activities and designs products in-house with local artisans.
Manish Maheshwari is the one who gave momentum to this revolutionary idea and collaborated with artists to display their creations, arranged instructive workshops for designers as well as students and alongside added products to their portfolio which comprises home-embellishment products. While Piyush Maheshwari is involved with the smooth administration of the office.
With humble beginnings in 1999 as Rachaita Creative Solutions (RCS), the parent company of Site Art Space, Manish was engaged in developing corporate souvenirs and metal wall mounted clocks. Their first architectural project was with the Arrow store where they developed the display stands, shelves, floor-standing clocks and signage.
In 2006 they were approached by a Mumbai-based artist for commissioning a few works for his solo show. After the show’s opening, a new stream of clientele started approaching them for the production of their concepts.
Manish says, “While we were doing these art installations, majority of them went abroad without them being showcased in India at all. This gave me an idea of having a preview space for the works. A few years later, architect Samira Rathod, while visiting our facility for inspecting a commissioned furniture exhibition suggested that we convert a part of the 20,000 sq ft facility into an art gallery.”
Noticing Manish’s involvement with the artists, Samira offered to lend her services to revamp the premises without any charges. Retaining the warehouse look for the art gallery, all new extensions were prepared with metal as a structural component and the façade. The other areas were planned as a regenerative space for artists, designers and architects alike.
Hence came into existence a reference room (library), studios for artists in transit, a cafe to facilitate culinary mavens, and an outdoor lawn area with an organic vegetables landscape along with the curio store.
Site Art Space was primarily established to exhibit sculptures and art works which were commissioned at their workshop while also providing artists a space to collaborate and use the space to express their sensitivity in terms of scale.
The space was envisioned in a fashion that it facilitates artists’ discussions on their works with the team or the community. The gamut of work exhibited includes installations, paintings, sketches, illustrations and even constructive discussions.
The curio store is their retail outlet where thought-provoking products designed by Manish and created by local artisans are displayed. It houses an assortment of avant-garde, artistic products ranging from colourful kettles, artistic showpieces, minimalistic lamps to hand-made jewellery created from folding metal sheets.
They are fun and aesthetical along with providing great ergonomics and functionality. A product takes anywhere between two days to one and a half month to complete. Manish talks about the idea behind his unconventional products, “Some of the key factors are inspirations from traditionally practised arts and crafts or a certain old world charm to retain traditional values, or use of unconventional materials such as X-ray films.”
Their portfolio consists of products primarily made of different types of metal, including brass, copper, stainless steel, etc. Ask him why the orientation towards metal and he says, “Metals are naturally derived, eco-friendly and re-usable, besides being rigid and involving varied processes. We have worked on one of the hardest metals out there such as stainless steel and made it look like fabric for a project, where we were asked to make a leather sofa.” Besides metal, he has also worked with wood, glass, stone, acrylic, fabric and leather.
Their products are available at e-tailers Handtribe and Mojarto, apart from their own website and the retail store.
Text By Rehana Hussain