Nostalgia, unboxed

Updated: 16 October, 2020 21:13 IST | Jovita Aranha | Mumbai

A Mumbai-based illustrator creates striking desi-inspired accordion book artworks with packaging of everyday commodities

Eno packets. PIC/@rutujamali on Instagram
Eno packets. PIC/@rutujamali on Instagram

Of the many things that the lockdown has taught us, one of our treasured learnings has been creating a three-ingredient cake recipe using just biscuits, milk and ENO.

That ENO could be used as a substitute for baking powder surprised us. Similarly, who could have imagined that instant Dalgona coffee could give the hot brew a run?

If you've been able to relate to these instances, check out Mumbai-based visual artist and illustrator Rutuja Mali's latest Instagram series, Accordion Books. From the iconic matchstick brand Ship, Nescafe, Eno to silver birthday candles and oregano sachets, the artist has intricately painted the insides of these packages to create illustrations in the accordion book format that scream nostalgia.

An accordion book artwork featuring a Ship matchbox and (above) Eno packets. PIC/@RuTujamali on Instagram
An accordion book artwork featuring a Ship matchbox

The advertising professional reveals that the series wasn't planned. "The idea struck me a month ago when I stumbled upon a Ship matchbox at home. While initially, the thought was to create a diary using its frame, a long look at the box made me realise that using the packaging as the premise for the illustration would be a lot more fun." What binds the five artworks in the project together is the use of hands in every frame — whether it is whipping a cake batter, lighting a match or passing an eraser. Each artwork comes with a quirky Hinglish punchline. For example, the matchbox accordion book says, "Bro lighter hai kya?"

"The idea was to veer away from describing the direct usage of the product used and make it relatable by showing how we as Indians use them as substitutes. Like the candle accordion book asks, 'Torch maar, candle nahi mil rahi.' Or the ENO book says, 'Baking powder khatam? Yeh daal!'"

Rutuja Mali
Rutuja Mali

The project led Mali to experiment with different daily products she could find around the house and jazz them up with funny insights that are relatable. The artist, who usually works with clay as a medium, confesses how she was unsure about the outcome of the project. But netizens have declared their verdict. And it definitely gets a double thumbs-up from us.

Log on to @rutujamali on Instagram

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First Published: 16 October, 2020 07:55 IST

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