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The Not So India Design ID

Design Log 28 Feb, New Delhi

The latest edition of India Design ID brought together close to 150 designers from India and across the world to showcase their work. Unfortunately, the weak curation, the prevalent plagiarism of products, the unconsidered design of the design fair itself, and the uninspiring installations of blobs of gold and Damien Hirst ripoffs that lined the entry, made the trade fair nowhere close to India’s design potential as it stands.

Among the highlights at the fair were a few meaningfully done booths like Nilaya's Wes Anderson-ish train set which featured Sabyasachi-designed wallpapers and Hands’ elegant displays of woven carpets with contemporary designs. It was good to see upcoming designers mixing unexpected mediums to create beautifully functional works, namely Craft Beton’s furniture and home decor using cement, Aakriti Kumar’s sculpture-like Differeniture, and Bandana Jain’s recycled furniture using corrugated cardboard, among others.

The ID Symposium had some interesting speakers like Ross Lovegrove, Neil Harbisson and Simon Velez, as well as engaging panel discussions. The Art Lounge with curated artworks by Gallery Espace, Vadehra Art Gallery and Nature Morte was also a pleasant surprise, with the recent works of Praneet Soi, Manjunath Kamath and Anju Dodiya on display proving to be a much-needed relief at the end of our exploration.

Still, there seemed to be an underlying eltitism to the exhibit, with design professionals, students and young, design enthusiasts amiss. In the middle of it all, it was also awkward to see craftspersons weaving as part of certain displays, making them just another installation and extremely out of context. A lot more can be done in the coming years in terms of curation, and accessibility. After all, the claim of being ‘India’s largest art and design fair’ comes with the responsibility of considering the impact a property like this could have on people through design.