Design activism

Updated: 14 May, 2020 10:20 IST | Shweta Shiware | Mumbai

India's community of architects, artists, product and fashion designers donate products to a week-long online fundraiser exhibition to help the country's diverse craft clusters survive the pandemic

East of Calcutta dinner plate by Sabyasachi x Thomas Goode
East of Calcutta dinner plate by Sabyasachi x Thomas Goode

OTLO, a native Gujarati term for porch or a space between the home and the street, becomes a metaphorical exploration of all things design in Ashiesh Shah's namesake online fundraiser initiative between The India Design Fund (TIDF) and StoryLTD by Saffronart. Architect-designer Shah's resolve with TIDF is quite simply to look at Indian design, and what its community of architects, artists, fashion, product and interior designers could do to empower with unity during the COVID-19 health crisis.

"We've aligned with multiple NGOs working on undertaking humanitarian aid and disaster relief for migrant and construction workers and craft communities," says Shah, the co-founder of TIDF.

Backgammon trunk in hand-painted turquoise by Trunks Company, Jaipur
Backgammon trunk in hand-painted turquoise by Trunks Company, Jaipur

Founding members and panellists of TIDF include like-minded collaborators from the design fraternity: Shimul Javeri Kadri, Vinita Chaitanya, Tarini Jindal Handa, Pavitra Rajaram, Iram Sultan, Pareina Thapar as well as Shah. "I wanted only women on the team. I believe we can win this battle with women leading it," Shah adds with
a laugh.

The next phase of TIDF plans to focus on crowd-funding; here the craftspeople and their crafts will frame the identity of the programme. "This is Pavitra Rajaram's idea to help survival and sustenance of craftspeople and their craft stock."

The Cava Carpet by Mishcat Co
The Cava Carpet by Mishcat Co

Inside OTLO's digital sale exhibition on the StoryLTD site which goes live today, you'll find Shah's curated inventory of indigenous items; from Dashrath Patel's limited edition set of nine line drawings on ceramic plates with 24-carat gold borders (Rs 1 lakh for a set of nine) to Sabyasachi's dining plate set for Thomas Goode (Rs 16,000 each for set of six plates). "The diversity of curation is exciting. If you look at Dashrath Patel's plates, they are far more modern than Sabyasachi's tableware; a quintessential take on Calcutta nostalgia," explains Shah. The final catalogue of 700-odd products on sale are handpicked on the basis of one elemental — Made in India — philosophy. "I'd say it's a 100-per-cent swadeshi movement. The products reflect our diversity in crafts and handiwork, and are representative of the future of Indian design," adds Shah.

By focusing broadly on furniture, design objects, home accessories, artworks and even stationery, Shah says, he wanted to highlight the crafts at home. "While crafts in fashion is common conversation, nobody talks about crafts at home. Why?" Shah wonders. So while designers like Sanjay Garg of Raw Mango, Nimish Shah and Sabyasachi Mukherjee are among the fashion names on the list, they have all contributed via design objects, furnishing and tableware respectively. Mishcat Co's Cava carpet (Rs 52,800) is a contemporary take on the 15th century Suzani using upcycled saree silk yarn. "This is a great example of when our national costume and a fashion silhouette look homeward. These are the stories I want to tell," shares Shah.

Ashiesh Shah
Ashiesh Shah

Funds secured from the OTLO sale will go to NGO United Way Mumbai–Fight Against COVID-19, along with patron donations also allocated towards those organisations mobilising relief to craft communities, such as Dastkar Artisan Fund. Accountability matters stress Shah. "Excel sheets are going back and forth to ensure the funds are routed straight to the source. With United Way, the first line of action is to outline and target urgency-based communities. The crisis has led to people dying of hunger, and funds have to reach them first. Sorry, am I sounding like an activist?"

Log on to www.storyltd.com. The OTLO, COVID-Relief fundraiser sale starts today;
Till May 20

Baail, figure of bull, terracotta design object by Raw Mango
Baail, figure of bull, terracotta design object by Raw Mango

What's up for grabs?

. Chamcha, cooking tools recreated and groomed as striking flatware by Ikkis - Gunjan Gupta, Rs 8,750
. Baail, figure of a bull, terracotta artefact by Raw Mango, Rs 14,800
. Marble inlay plates with malachite on a base of black marble by Rooshad Shroff, Rs 22,000
. Holi wall art in stone colour on Basli by Pichvai Tradition & Beyond, Rs 32,000
. Mungaru easy armchair in natural teak wood finish by Phantom Hands, Rs 60,500
. Perspective silver-plated three-piece tea set with tray by Rezon, Rs 90,000
. Moonshadow No 1 and Moonshadow No 2 design objects by Atelier Ashiesh Shah, Rs 76,000 each
. Old Burma teak and black leather rocker chair by Samira Rathod Design Atelier, Rs 92,000
. Eagle Totem by Klove Design Studio, Rs 2,06,500
. Backgammon trunk in hand-painted turquoise by Trunks Company, Jaipur, Rs 3.25 lakh
Shipping and GST charges applicable

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First Published: 14 May, 2020 08:44 IST

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