Design Re-Invented

Design Re-Invented

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Sahil & Sarthak

A collection of inimitable lights is inspired by different traditional forms of Kerala. Kerala-Sutra by Sahil Bagga and is an initiative to uphold the craftsmanship of local artisans and conceptualises these traditional elements onto the lighting installations with each having its unique inspiration to it


Kerala-Sutra, A Collection of Inimitable Lights

The key theme of this design project has been to re-discover, re-interpret and re-present the traditional objects & crafts practices of Kerala, as a collection of twenty light installations, to meet the demand and aspirations of a worldwide luxury market.The word Kerala is first recorded as “Keralaputra”‘ in a 3rd-century BCE rock inscription left by the Maurya emperor Ashoka. Therefore, the story of this land is ancient and deeply rooted in legends and mythology. Our effort has been to narrate the story of Kerala in the most comprehensive manner, by stringing together five key elements that has given a framework to this design project. They are Land, Legend, Legacy, Love & Lifestyle. These five elements are like five chapters in a book that has been linked together by the thread of time, therefore the use of the metaphor “Sutra”. The result is a fascinating overview not only of the treasures of the glorious past of Kerala but of its significance in the future.

(“Kerala Sutra by Mango Tree Craft & Design, a Somany Ceramics Initiative, designed by Sahil & Sarthak”)

The Shadow Puppet Sculptures
These abstract sculptures are the designer’s interpretation of “Tholpavakoothu”, the ancient form of shadow puppetry practices in Kerala.

Tholpavakoothu is a compound word of three Malayalam terms, “Thol” meaning leather, “Pava” meaning doll, and “Koothu” meaning the play. It is believed to have originated in the ninth century AD and uses Kamba Ramayana as its basic text.

Traditionally, the puppets used in Tholpavakoothu used to be made out of deer skin. But now they are typically made from goat skin. The puppets are painted in vegetable dyes and punched with various hand-made punches to create beautiful filigree cutwork motifs on the Leather.

Our effort has been to re-contextualize these traditional leather puppets into objects and art for contemporary spaces, without losing its true essence. The characters showcased in the first Leather Puppet Sculptures are made in this same traditional technique that has been practiced for centuries. They are the two main characters from Kamba Ramayana, placed on either side of the sculpture. On one side we have Lord Rama, representing all that is good in this universe and the other side we have the Demon King Ravana, representing the evil within us that we all must try to conquer. The two figures are exploded artistically and then arranged as a cubist painting.

The second installation narrates the story of two brothers from the Kamba Ramayana, Sugreeve and Bali, the Monkey Kings. Finally, the third installation depicts the mythological flying horse. Similar abstraction has been applied to the traditional leather puppets in all three installations. The installation structure is made of wood with an internal light source to make these leather puppets glow with the reminiscence of a traditional Kerala puppet performances.

The Prabha Lamp Installation
In Sanskrit, Prabha means lustrous, light, shine or radiance. Therefore, the name Prabha has an immediate association with these lamp installation.

On another level, these lamps are also the designers reinterpretation of a local Keralian artefact called the “Prabha”. The Prabhas of Nadavaramba are physical manifestation of a Halo, a religious iconography, usually seen behind the heads of gods and divine figures.

The Prabha lamp installation draws its inspiration from these traditional Prabhas and presents them in a contemporary form. The Prabhas of our installation has been handcrafted in brass and then silver plated, to recreate the effect of the mirrors while making it unbreakable and easier to maintain. To compliment these prabhas and add to their traditional narrative, the designers have decided to use the ancient style Kerala Mural Painting. Alongside the prabhas, one can see glass canvases capturing glimpses of a traditional “Yagna”, a ritualistic bonfire ceremony. The Yagna scenes have been stylised by the mural artist in the vision of the designers and then transferred on to glass. These glass discs are lit from behind, creating a stained glass effect.

The Uruli Lamp Installation
The origin of the word “Uruli” comes from large, shallow cooking vessels of Kerala  called Vattalam or Vaarpu.

This installation is inspired by one such uruli that has been filled with water to create a mosaic of flowers, traditionally known as Pookalam. The designers have reinterpreted the traditional pookalam into a colourful graphic printed on glass, fitted onto a hand crafted brass uruli. The uruli is then fitted with an internal light source.

The installation consists of six such urulis which are installed on a metal pole that acts as the spine of the entire installation. This metal pole is inspired by the tall golden towers found outside the temples and churches of Kerala. They are used as lamps, flag posts or just an religious iconography.

About the Designer
& Sarthak Sengupta started their design studio in Delhi in 2009. Their expertise lies in customizing products and furniture by innovative use of Indian craftsmanship and materials. In this line, they introduced “Zero Kilometer™”approach in designing commercial spaces. Recognizing their innovative business model, they were awarded the Young Creative Entrepreneur Award by the British Council India.
Their products have been widely published and showcased at various international platforms like the Trienalle Design Museum, Milan; Asia Trienalle, Manchester; Cappellini Next Exhibition, during the Milan Furniture Fair and Salone del Mobile where their work was referred to as a significant product & lifestyle trend by trend forecasters, WGSN.
They have received numerous awards like EDIDA, IDF design awards 2013 and Asia Talents award 2014. Since 2009, Sahil & Sarthak design team has executed various interior projects for heritage hotels, landmark restaurants, V.I.P lounges and luxury homes.

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