Design Log / Festival

Asian Paints presents Design Fabric Festival

The debut edition of Design Fabric Festival would have been nothing without the support of Asian Paints. Here's what happened on day 1 as part of the association.

By Rohini Kejriwal on 30 March

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Adam J. Kurtz and Tuesday Bassen at their zine making workshop on Day 1, at Design Fabric Festival

Design Fabric Festival 2018, India’s first multi-discipline design festival, started its debut edition at Famous Studios, Mumbai with the launch of our supporting partners Asian Paints’ annual trend forecast event Colour Next ‘18 and announcing Passion Flower as the Colour of the Year.

Attendees explored individual spaces created with the 4 future trends of 2018: Humane, Busy Cool, Alchemy of Memories and Untamed - curated based on its collaborative research and experimentation along with some of India’s finest minds. The trends attempt to interpret the aspirations of today’s dynamic individuals, consumer behaviour and decor choices that are ruling the year’s aesthetics.

As part of Asian Paints’ support, two workshops were enabled - one on the trend Alchemy of Memories by Katie Rodgers, and a typervention by Kriti Monga using the 2018 Colour of the Year.

Katie Rodgers at her Taxi Fabric Workshop, based on the trend Alchemy of Memories presented by Asian Paints Colour Next

Illustrator Katie Rodgers, who runs the wonderful blog Paper Fashion, interpreted Asian Paints’ theme Alchemy of Memories for the tactile Taxi Fabric workshop to create art for a taxi. “I wanted to be inspired by Indian culture as well as bring my own work into it. So I just created something with my typical Shadow Dancers work. I’ve never been to India before. But I wanted to bring my love and inspiration for nature by adding the lotus flower into the artwork,” she said. Elaborating the element of memory, she said, “The Shadow Dancers are a part of my memory, as weird as that sounds. So I created them dancing with the lotus flowers, which feel dreamlike and are a very strong part of this culture. On the roof of the taxi, we’re creating a starry night, which adds to the dreaminess and whimsical feel. Originally, I had wanted to incorporate the sari somehow but didn’t end up doing it because I decided to keep it playful.” During the workshop, the participants were split into 4 groups and worked on different parts of the taxi. “Because they’re separated into groups yet working with the same colour palette, It’s going to be a very eclectic taxi. It’ll be really fun just to have the coming together of 20 people and adding a piece of themselves and their culture to it,” added Katie.

The Typervention workshop led by Kriti Monga explored Passion Flower, the Colour Of The Year presented by Asian Paints Colour Next

Designer Kriti Monga’s Typervention workshop embodied Asian Paints’ Colour of the Year ‘18 Passion Flower to create unusual yet visually striking letter forms. “The Colour of the Year can be seen in everything in this low-fi letter design workshop. I chose material based on what is quintessentially Bombay in that colour palette, be it things at the street level or professional things like yellow pencils. The idea was to brings together the texture of Bombay in different ways. So we have eggs, which is everyone’s breakfast on the run, yellow pencils, aamras (mango juice) because it’s summer, tape, and yarn. It’s a complete variation in materials and styles,” explained Kriti, adding that typerventions are modular type installations created with the idea of playing with material and thinking of type in entirely new ways. “Different materials make you think in completely new ways, ditch the keyboard and work with your hands. It sparks the brain in unique places. By the end of this, whether anybody has an idea of type design or not, they’ll have a whole new way of looking at type and get a sense of letter forming. It’s the most fun, basic, handmade way to learn letter design.”

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Moments from the zine-making workshop by Adam J. Kurtz and Tuesday Bassen, and the poster making workshop spearheaded by Anthony Burrill

Apart from this, the busy morning also included an immersive zine making workshop by Adam J. Kurtz and Tuesday Bassen, who took a very eager bunch of participants through the history of zines in the pre-Internet era, took them through the cutting, binding and creative process, gave them some lovely reference zines to be inspired by, and finally, allowed them to go crazy and make their own.

Graphic designer Anthony Burrill’s poster making workshop was also a hit, with participants cutting and working with bold letters to create hard-hitting, visually compelling posters with scissors and glue, followed by screen printing them courtesy the family-run Pritam Arts, who set up a makeshift printing studio at Famous.

The afternoon started with the screening of the inspiring and fascinating autobiographical documentary by Stefan Sagmeister The Happy Film, co-directed by Ben Nabors, and Hillman Curtis. A film that followed Stefan’s explorations to attain happiness by trying meditation, therapy, and drugs. Interspersed with some gorgeous design experiments and a play with materials, it set the stage for the next session: the WIP Sessions.

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Kriti Monga reminisced about a Typecamp in Japan

The much-awaited WIP Sessions #8 was also held in sync with the Asian Paints’ trends. The first talk by Kriti Monga brought out the trend Humane, with Kriti live lettering to a poetic love letter to words. “I love words and letters like I love people. I love how some words taste on the tip of my tongue,” she began, proceeding to talk about the things that make us human: discomfort, comfort, memory and connection. Referring to previous works done by her during her travels that made her fall in love with every city she visited, she beautifully presented her vast portfolio - from learning calligraphy in a primary school in Japan to creating type identities for specific brands to working on murals around the world. “I’m skeptical about whether anything I do matters. But I’m hopeful too.,” she wrapped up.

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Sarah Naqvi introduced the crowd to her art

Next up was Sarah Naqvi, who started her inspiring talk with a shout-out to her father in the audience saying ‘Some explicit stuff is coming your way’. Her hard-hitting and powerful talk and artworks play with issues like gender, sexuality, female genital mutilation, and Islamophobia. In her talk, Sarah shared how she uses art as a language to express herself and share her experiences. She took the audience through her introduction to embroidery, playing with the medium in her Red Series, and eventually using other mediums like watercolour, wool and even the traditional pachedi to highlight difficult issues that people don’t talk about enough. The audience was hooked to her every word, and when she shared her WIP project where she addresses the religious polarisation and identity crisis thereafter that she is confronted with, the empathy was almost palpable. “We have desensitized words like ‘rape’, ‘massacre’, ‘murder’ because we encounter it so frequently. But that’s not okay. I want to create visuals that hits you where it hurts and makes a difference.”

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Mriga Kapadia and Amrit Kumar of NorBlack NorWhite

For the trend Busy Cool, Mriga Kapadia and Amrit Kumar of NorBlack NorWhite - who embody the trend in their work - shared their journey as designers. Their presentation reeked of an uber cool aesthetic as they took the crowd through the essential principles that define their work: Values, Storytelling, Celebrate Culture, Build Relationships, Operate With Love, Reclaim. Respect, and lastly, Keep It Real; giving examples and backstories in a very enriching presentation. “NorBlack NorWhite comes from a very open, curious space. We work with Indian textiles, but we don’t want to only be in that space. Through our artistry, we are telling stories that need to be told. We believe in combining design and feeling and thoughts into space, so the buyer knows what we relate to,” they said. To wrap up their talk, they spoke of their recent project A Woman Was Harassed Here and showed a riveting video of the upcoming collection.

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Orijit Sen explored his years of creating graphic novels and comics

The last speaker for the evening was graphic artist Orijit Sen, who wowed the eager listeners by taking them through his journey as an artist, from projects like a Place in Punjab that uses miniature style graphics to his unique experiences creating murals in Palestine to his experiments with graphic satire by creating characters like Modi Antoinette and Salvador Dilwali. Talking about his work with People Tree and his dedication to the crafts, he shared his early experiments with textiles, from creating ‘textile installations’ aka pillows and stuffed animals with scrap material to helping a local watch seller to make cloth straps as his USP, Orijit spoke of the importance of giving back to the crafts community through innovation and modern thinking. Finally, he gave a sneak peek into Gokul Nagar, a comic that is a WIP which he plans to release by the end of the year.

Beers for the networking session were provided by White Owl, and gave the audience a chance to unwind and share experiences after the long WIP Session.

The evening ended with the Absolut Art Bar, which was brought to Mumbai for the first time by the brand. With artworks by Tanya Eden, Anand Radhakrishnan and Pratap Chalke adorning the walls and energetic performances by Aqua Dominatrix and Madboy/Mink and live visuals by Studio Moebius, the party was a perfect end to a day that was heavy on inspiration and insight.

Watch this space for more updates from DFF2018.

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