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From Dharavi to London

Posted on: 21 Sep 2016

Exhibition

Q & A with Mumbai based architect Prakriti Shukla who is showing her brilliant pieces at Transformation exhibition in Kings Cross.

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What are you exhibiting at Transformation? Describe the different pieces.

Pixelated chair and footstool and Quadratic lamps.

Pixelated chair and footstool is handcrafted out of refurbished teak wood and metal. The surface of the pieces is made of upholstered cubes that swivel like beads in an abacus. This gives the user a canvas of colourful combinations and patterns.

Quadratic is a reincarnation of disused paper tubes as lamps. Four hand bend mild steel rods and a brass pipe emerge from a core and blossom into a paper tube assembly. These slender bright coloured mild steel rods provide a stark and clean geometry to house the sternly symmetrical and relatively voluminous paper tubes.

Where do your ideas come from?

More than my own craft, reading and experimenting with other faculties open my mind to new ideas. These help me to deconstruct the definition of an object or space to its bare essentials – an important step in design.

You work with many different materials - refurbished wood, discarded metal parts, etc. Take me through your design process from inception to finished product.

When upcycling, maintaining the material’s integrity often influences my design. The exercise begins with identifying the materials that land in recycling units across the city. The design at this stage is malleable in order to allow ample space to realise the material’s aspirations. This means going through plastic and glass recycling sectors of Dharavi, dismantled auto parts market in central Mumbai and old metal and timber market of South Mumbai.
This is the time when I revisit the drawing board. I always discuss my ideas and drawings with artisans, as it is crucial when collaborating with a team of skilled fabricators, carpenters, needlework artists, etc. We then focus on understanding the environmental impact of each process of production with an attempt to minimize it over subsequent versions.

Why is upcycling important? What is sustainable design to you?

Tonnes of natural materials, mineral ores, rock beds and vegetation get displaced in order to process a few grams of virgin material. Even a nondescript furniture will heavily weigh against the environment, if made from virgin materials. Thus it is important that we encourage reuse of materials. Most materials, like, timber, metals and alloys do not lose their structural integrity or aesthetic appeal when reused.
A design that aims to have a lean footprint on environment and gives discarded materials a new lease on life is truly sustainable. To achieve this one has to focus not only on materials but also on the processes of production.

Who are your favourite local designers to keep an eye out for?

Bangalore based architect, Cyrus Patell’s Peggi light caught my attention. It is beautifully crisp and simple in design. I love the judicious use of wood against a slender metal collar. The detailing is appreciably uncomplicated and clear. It will be interesting to see his next creation.

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