Festival to ‘demystify design’

The event, albeit disorganised, offers interesting installations, workshops and conferences
Last Updated 17 November 2019, 14:34 IST

The second edition of Bengaluru ByDesign started on November 15 and goes on till 24, with the aim of “demystifying design”. The festival features installations, exhibitions, workshops, conferences, and more held across 10 venues in the city including, Bangalore International Centre (BIC), Titan Campus, Electronic City, Workbench Projects, CoWorks, Residency Road amongst others. 

Metrolife visited a few venues over the weekend. If you are planning to go, avoid the online schedule, as it has not been updated. Many events and workshops that were listed have been cancelled. 

The printed schedule available at BIC is no better. We went from venue to venue because we came to know of the cancellations upon arrival. 

The basic requirement of having someone from the organising team at the various locations was not met. The staff at Workbench Projects weren’t even aware of an event taking place at their office. The event was organised poorly, which was disappointing because they have many interesting things to offer, such as Vitek Skop’s work with augmented reality, and Liz West’s work with light and coloured filter glass. 

Metrolife spoke to Suprita Moorthy, the founder of Bengaluru ByDesign about the festival:

What motivated you to organise this festival?

We started the festival last year as an attempt to bring together the country’s greatest thinkers, practitioners, retailers and educators to celebrate design. The idea was to demystify and make design practice and innovation accessible.

How is the second edition different?

This year, our focus has been more on the idea of education and community design while helping people understand the new processes in the industry.

What are the challenges you faced in curating this event? 

One of the main challenges we face is sustaining ourselves economically. This year, especially due to the economic slowdown, where the event industry seems to have had a major set back, we have had to re-edit our programme several times.

While the events were interesting, the festival could have been organised better. Why was this the case?

Planning this year’s festival was difficult due to last-minute cancellations by collaborators. We had to cancel a few programmes such as the Makers Market and Object Bengaluru as brands in-charge have also been affected by the economic slowdown.

‘Vivid Books’ by Vitek Skop

Vitek Skop, a graphic designer from the Czech Republic, has found a way to use augmented reality to make science more fun. To this end, he has created an interactive textbook. One can access worksheets online, which have been made available to the public for free. These, once printed, have to be used along with the Vividbooks app, available on the Play Store. In a conversation with Metrolife, Skop spoke about his creation and what motivated him.

What motivated you to create ‘Vivid Books’?

This may not be the case in India, but in many other countries, the interest in STEM subjects is on the decline. I wanted to make children fall in love with science. For that, they have to be able to understand it. This allows children to control what they learn. I also wanted to be able to create something meaningful using augmented reality.

How did you decide on Physics?

Physics is something you either hate or love; there is no in-between. But, at the same time, it is so fundamental. This work allows them to see for themselves why things work the way they do and understand the world around them.

How did you choose the topics to be covered?

I have my science teacher helping me with my project. Right now, we have created lessons based on the seventh and eighth-grade syllabus, as followed in schools in the USA and London. We hope to cover all possible topics within this subject, as well as have textbooks for Chemistry, Biology and even History, soon. 

Have children and schools been receptive to this?

We have introduced it in schools in New York and London, and so far the children seem to love it. Teachers who wish to do things differently are happy to have us on board because we are getting students to ask ‘Why?’ and find the answers out for themselves. 

Is this going to be available in India?

It is available in India right now. However, the syllabus might be different. We hope to create a textbook that is suited to the lesson plan here soon. 

His work is on display at the Bangalore International Centre, Domlur. 

‘Taburete Tower’ by Jakub Szczesny

Polish architect Jakub Szczesny says design is for everybody. In a conversation with Metrolife, while explaining his installation that stood at the entrance of BIC, he spoke about the architectures of India and Poland.

What do you want to highlight through your installation?

In most architecture and design festivals, these installations lose importance once the event is over. In most cases, they become rubbish. It is a giant waste of ecological resources.

For Bengaluru ByDesign, I redesigned the stools and structure using local wood. By the end of the festival, 70 stools will be given to people — based on the idea of the festival — ‘Design is for everyone’.

In today’s India, especially in Bengaluru, the democratisation of design is important. Design is about problem-solving, being inexpensive and creating something that can be used in one’s everyday life.

What do you keep in mind when you are designing something?

I have worked with advertising for 10 years, so I have the habit of thinking about the target group.

If you want to tell a story or express yourself, it is important to choose an interesting audience. I also look at how we can redistribute money in more efficient ways and come up with ideas of a better future.

This is your second visit to India. What differences do you see between India and Polish architectures?

Polish architecture today is booming when it comes to big public buildings. We building highways and water and sewage systems and also concert halls and museums. But what we need is everyday architecture that keep the environment in mind. 97 per cent of us in Poland buy apartments and houses with the help of bank loans. We are all in debt up to our ears. It is about time, we find a way to make affordable houses for the poor and middle-class alike. Having said that, today there is a consciousness of having minimalistic and energy-efficient houses. During the communist era, public spaces belonged to no one; they belonged to the government. People threw garbage everywhere and littered the streets and squares, but now, things are changing. There is a feeling of community and ownership once again.

So when you come to India and see how streets look — no street lights, pedestrians fighting to survive running through the streets, garbage all over the place, almost no urban planning, it looks like the situation that Poland was in the early 1990s.

When did you start working on installations?

I have been working on installations for the last 20 years. I started as a way to show Polish people that public spaces like squares (which are turned into parking lots) are for them and not for their vehicles.

What was your first installation?

It was an illumination made out of 100 neon lamps that I had put under a highway in Warsaw. It was a very dark place and one day when I saw people crossing it in the dark, it was a very scary sight. I decided to set up rainbow-coloured lamps guided by the movement of people passing. The movement was captured every time someone crosses the street. Younger people started to use it as a toy but what it also did was make the place safer.

His work is on display at the Bangalore International Centre, Domlur.

 ‘The History of the Built World’ by John Gollings

Australian photographer John Gollings’ works are on display at the Bangalore International Centre, Domlur. His photos are an attempt to bring together two passions, architecture and photography, while exploring the idea of cultural construction of social spaces. Photographs of the Chinese city of Jiaohe, the Khmer temples of Angkor, the architecture of the Vijayanagara empire, among others, form part of the collection.  

‘Leather Craft-DIY’ by Arpan Patel

Under the tutelage of Arpan Patel, the co-founder of Kassa, a brand that creates leather goods, do-it-yourself leathercraft workshops were held over the weekend at Green Theory, Residency Road. The event was aimed at helping people understand and learn more about the material. For the purpose of the class, only factory waste was used. “We wanted to show that wastage can be reduced. We create products of utility in a way that it doesn’t look like it has been created out of discarded material,” he explains. Cases for spectacles, cardholders and earphone holders were the products that were made.

‘Mobile Photo Camp: Childrens Photography Workshop’ by Chennai Photo Biennale 

A mobile photography workshop and art tour for children was held on November 17, under the facilitation of Gayatri Nair. “Our goal is to promote photography as an art form. We have been teaching kids in schools and through weekend workshops since 2018,” she says. 

The event was aimed at teaching the basics of mobile photography. “The idea is that they have fun, but also see that there is more to photography than taking selfies,” she explains. 

The workshop began with a theory lesson, followed by some photo sessions at Cubbon Park. The children were handed iPhone XRs and asked to take photos of whatever struck their interest. This was followed by games that used photography. 

“We wanted to them to just click scenes of the everyday. We didn’t want them to worry about the technicalities of using a camera. And we stuck to one phone so that we don’t have to give each child different instructions,” she adds.

The event culminated at the National Gallery of Modern Art where they were taken on a tour to view the works of other photographers.

‘Wire weaving’ by N V Subramanyam

N V Subramanyam became a master craftsman at Workbench Project, Ulsoor after retiring as an electrical engineer. He learnt the craft of wire-weaving at the age of seven from his aunt.

“My aunt used to make baskets through wire weaving, and from her, I learnt the craft. When she got tired, I would help complete it,” he says. As he grew up, this interest took a back seat until the team from ‘Bengaluru ByDesign’ approached him to take a workshop and teach others this craft.

Metrolife caught up with him after his workshop to know more about his work.

What different things can be made using this technique?

Wire weaving is primarily used to make baskets and bags but one can also use the weaving technique to make photo frames and decorative wall arts using multi-coloured wires. There are also different shapes one can experiment with like square, hexagon or octagon.

Things to keep in mind while wire weaving?

Wire weaving is all about patience. It is a time-consuming craft. One needs to be careful not to make any mistake while weaving because one has to then unweave the entire thing and redo it from scratch.

Is it similar to crochet?

Crochet is more difficult. For that, one’s fingers need to be nimble. Moreover, the weaves are thinner than wire weaving.

What kind of wire is usually used?

We primarily use plastic but one can use any flat strip-like materials like matchboxes (cut into thin strips) or flat ropes.

 ‘Garbage Dreams’ by Mariel Manuel and JD Institute of fashion technology

Swiss artist and fashion designer Mariel Manuel works with the idea of sustainability in fashion. Currently in India for three-month residency with the Swiss Art Council, she collaborated with the students of JD Institute of Fashion Technology for her installation at the festival. Displayed at the Bangalore International Centre, Domlur, the work features clothes made out of plastic bottles, onion sacks, fishing nets and potato sacks.
Metrolife chatted with the designer to find out more about her work:

When did you decide to bring together sustainability and fashion?

I worked in Paris for almost seven years. While the work was good, I was always stressed, because the system is such that you keep making and just discarding so much after every production. At one point, I started collecting these things that they deemed as waste. I began to wonder if I could make products that looked high-end with these items, and that is how it began.

Tell us more about your installation.

For me, it is not about fashion. I wanted to present my designs in a way that it tells a story. We created textile sculptures and made it a point to bring the attention of the audience to things like colour and texture. We wanted to help people see beyond the obvious.

What was the process of creating these designs?

Before I arrived I sent a list of the kind of materials I wished to work with. They gathered them. We grouped them into colours and then started thinking about how we can create something out of this. We looked into textures, shapes, and then finally built towards a design. It is about the research and the material at hand. I don’t design first and then create. This process allows me more room for creativity.

Tell us more about ‘Ten dresses under my bed’. 

It is an ongoing research work, where I look into the ideas of waste and the value of textiles. It began when I decided to take a break from my previous work. 

What advice do you have for consumers?

The fashion industry is the second-largest polluter in the world. Companies are looking at profits, so if consumers stop buying these brands, things will change. For that, we have to create awareness and get people to question what they are buying. Also, there are brands that say that they are sustainable when they are not. People need to make it a point to research before they buy.

Her work is on display at the Bangalore International Centre, Domlur.

(Published 17 November 2019, 14:28 IST)

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