Design Log / Festival

It's about time we celebrated design in Mumbai

Sanket Avlani, founder of Design Fabric, shares insight on the inaugural edition of Design Fabric Festival 2018 - India’s biggest multidisciplinary art and design festival.

on 08 February

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As an independent design studio and publication, one major challenge we have noticed at Design Fabric (DF) while setting up a design practice in India is the aspect of hiring talent. It’s a well known fact that a majority of students graduating from design colleges in India are not competent to get hired as entry-level designers owing to the below standard mentorship and training. Though design talent continues to multiply year on year with tens of institutions being set up to capture this growing ‘market’, students enter the real world (of problem solving), requiring excessive guidance and encouragement, and more importantly, needing the access and opportunity to interact with champions in the fields of design.

The self-driven, exceptional students tend to seek education and jobs abroad in more developed markets, where the access for designers in terms of events, exhibits, and world class talent is easy. So, while it’s a great time to start a design practice in India, there is a growing gap for the required talent that will eventually help build these practices, a reality confirmed by our peers who run studios across the country.

We are part of the first generation of designers in India who had access to the Internet while entering the profession. We grew up mostly drawing inspiration from the rest of the world and so many of our design styles, aesthetics and principles are acquired from those that were defined and developed elsewhere and shared online. I’m talking about the times of Deviantart and early days of Behance. Amongst the various disciplines of design, fashion was the one that managed to create exports of Indian talent early on, with some names even matching up with the rest in the world.

Moments from various exhibits and workshops conducted by Design Fabric in 2017

In recent years, there has been a serious attempt by designers across various disciplines to draw influence from our own surroundings, traditions, history and the new-age Indian culture. The timing is now right to set higher expectations from Indian talent to contribute, with an Indian flair, to the global design industry. Apart from institutional and government support, around the world, this is facilitated by organising design festivals - an opportunity for designers to share their stories to inspire each other, and the next generation.

With a clear objective of providing infrastructure to India’s growing design talent, we’re hosting the first edition of Mumbai’s own Design Fabric Festival (DFF) 2018. The 3-day festival will feature some of the biggest names in design and visual art from around the world. These design legends will be in the city in end March to talk about their journeys, hold workshops and interact with some of the finest names in the Indian design circuit.

DFF 2018 will lead with the theme of Culture makes Design, Design makes Culture. This cyclic process of impact will be at the centre of our inquiry into how designers and artists around the world, and at home, have been able to interpret and influence culture through their work. With initiatives like the Kochi Biennale, India Art Fair and St+art Project scaling year on year, we feel it’s time to build the momentum for bringing design into mainstream conversation, as a significant contributor to cultural impact.

Images from our WIP Sessions

With the help of a group discussion that included some of the most celebrated designers and artists in Mumbai, the curatorial direction of the festival includes design legends, the contemporaries and the prodigies all sharing the same stage. Only when you see them together do you get to understand the current state of design and art from a wider perspective.

To set the expectations right, speakers at DFF will feature the likes of artists who have appeared on Netflix’s Abstract to the Godfather of street photography in fashion to the winner of the Woolmark Prize to someone who directed the Make In India identity. It will include multiple disciplines of design and visual art from across the globe. With the help of cultural institutes, we’re bringing down avant-garde design studios from Barcelona, Berlin and more. The artist and designers’ line-up will be announced in the days to come and we can’t wait to share the names with you!

Since our inception, DF has garnered support from a few visionary brands who have played a significant role in shaping the biggest art and design initiatives in India. One of them is Asian Paints, who started working with us even before we launched. DF was launched at their yearly Trend & Colour Research Extravaganza - Colour Next 2017. This year, Asian Paints has made it possible for us to launch a full-scale design festival in Mumbai by becoming the presenting partner for the entire festival. Them, along with a few other supporters, have made it possible for us design junkies to have our own big bash that will rival any other design festival in the world.

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Design conferences and festivals like OFFF, Trimarchi, and Semi-permanent which have inspired us, are being built to include audiences from various fields not restricted to design. So, apart from the conference, we will be including more interactive experiences like after-parties, exhibits and tours that can be accessed by design-enthusiasts and the generally curious lot too.

Our end-goal at DF is to put Mumbai on the map of design hubs around the world. While it makes its climb to level itself with some of the biggest financial capitals, design as an industry can add a dimension to Mumbai’s international identity. And there is no better way to do it than by building a festival that hosts a celebration of our exploding design scene in India.

On behalf of Design Fabric, I invite you all to come be a part of the inaugural edition of Mumbai’s very own art and design festival. Tickets launch on 15th Feb, 2018. Sign up here.

Sanket Avlani
Curator at Design Fabric

Pssst. For all the college students reading this article, we will launch the student tickets for you 4 days ahead of general tickets. Stay tuned.

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