The philanthropic design foundation, Be Open, brings together two of our pet passions this month, with an exhibition devoted to craft in India. It was not long ago that we pitched up in the country ourselves to produce our own tribute to India's colourful design heritage, and avid Wallpaper* readers will long have spotted our love for all things handmade. Staged at the Indira Ghandi National Centre for the Arts in New Delhi, the 'Made In India' show features the work of twenty Indian designers in an environment designed especially by architect Anupama Kundoo.
Kundoo's setting is a visual interpretation of the concept of ‘Samskara’, which is translated from Sanskrit as 'making perfect' or 'refining', and a key theme for the exhibition. Her handcrafted installation uses grey speckled granite, a material that’s indigenous to South India, to reference the forms of Mandu and Mughal architecture. The textural, hand-levelled slabs are offset by specially commissioned turquoise blue ferrocement bricks, which imbue the 600 sq m space with life. Together with rows of aluminium lampshades suspended from the ceiling, also a nod to Kundoo’s contribution to the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale, the space highlights aspects of tradition and modern life in equal harmony.
Similarly, the exhibits on display have not only been chosen for their aesthetics, but also how easily they fit into the contemporary global marketplace. 'We feel that the future of the handmade is about keeping it out of the moribund museum space and instead making it live and breathe by becoming part of the market economy,' says Be Open founder Yelena Baturina. 'Working with local experts, Be Open has been looking at today’s most promising Indian designers, encouraging them to think beyond their usual market and giving them the opportunity to present their work from a completely new perspective, so that it appeals to a much wider, international audience.'
'Made in India' brings together over 200 works under one roof. Some of the gems on show include a gleaming tea service and tray from Gunjan Gupta, a colourful ornate chandelier from lighting specialists Klove, hand-embroidered textiles and bedding from Abraham & Thakore and directional fashion constructions from Gaurav Gupta.
India was chosen as the location for the launch of the 'Made In...' series, 'not least because its culture reveals such a fascinating and stark dichotomy between tradition and modernity,' explains Baturina. 'This means that there is a tremendous legacy of skilled work and a willingness to take it forward into the future.'
The items in the collection will later be auctioned at the Milan World Expo 2015 and the proceeds will be fed back into Be Open's Young Talent Award fund to keep the circle of support going. Now that's what we call pay back.