In Goa'€™s heart and homes

Goa, the haven of some of the most charming Indo-Portuguese homes one could come across, is seeing a small but significant documentation project — Houses Of Goa — where designers are documenting one architectural wonder at a time, finds Kareena N Gianani

Unlike many tourists who visit Goa for the beaches, booze and its sights, Abhishek Sarda wants to give something back to the place he has lived in for 10 years now.

Sarda was born in Gujarat and after shifting base to Goa, has a CV which is a curious mix of work and fun — he began work at a design firm, but also sold handmade soaps on the side; took a break in 2009 to travel and make photographs; founded a firm which designed Power Point presentations, and finally started Beard Design, which does branding and web design for start-ups.

A 1763 home, called Fransisco Xavier Lorenco, at Margoa

“I want to work only and only with design, we don’t have a battery of guys into client servicing, and work only with like-minded clients,” he tells us over the telephone from Goa.

That Sarda thinks, dreams and breathes design is evident from his recent labour of love — Houses of Goa. Sarda and his team are currently on a design spree which documents the beautiful Indo-Portuguese homes of Goa. “Goa has given me so much in the past decade, and I wanted to do something for it too. I pass these beautiful homes every day, and I wondered how they haven’t really been well-documented. Of course, architects have written about them, but that is largely academic and not easily accessible,” says Sarda.

Casa Robello, built sometime in the 1600s, at Anjuna

So, in July, when a college student came to work with Sarda for her diploma project, he put her on to this idea. “We had a choice of doing watercolours, sketches and paintings, but I chose to emply flat vector illustrations because I feel it is more objective. I did not want Houses Of Goa to be an artiste’s representation — I wanted these sketches to be full of detail of the ornamentation I see in these homes, and true to detail,” he explains.”

Sarda and his team have finished working on 20 homes till now, and will continue the documentation. “I also plan to document the palaces of Rajasthan |and the havelis of Gujarat in a similar fashion.”

A photograph of Casa Robello; a photograph and Beard Design’s illustration of Vivian Coutinho, a 1928 home at Fatorda. Pics Courtesy/Beard Design

Sarda says he feels strongly about developing the design community in Goa and has two other projects apart from Houses of Goa which work to keep up that vision. He founded Iconomic Meltdown, which is a 24-hour-long marathon session wherein designers create icons that are Indian in their aesthetic. “For instance, if you want an icon for a clock, you could easily get it online, but what about a bullock cart, or even the cliched snake charmer?” Two marathon sessions were held in Goa and Mumbai earlier this year. Sarda is also working on The Illustrated Guide To Goa, which is a guide for travellers. It contains illustrations and information for travellers who want to know Goa intimately.

Does he plan to publish a book of his illustrations? “I am a web person and just to make a point there, will not publish a book!” laughs Sarda. 

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