AI6_21_2017_5_31_37_AM_Kalakaari_Haathmain.jpg

The Gond style of art is aesthetic as well as traditionally relevant for storytelling.

The design brief was to work with elements that are not too intrusive but engaging at the same time. The bridge between tradition and contemporary is to make it relevant in today’s context.

Adapting and working within the ergonomics without dividing design and craft is what inspired this piece.

This piece was created after attending a lakdi kaam workshop at Ramgarh.

Each medium is worked on individually and then finally compiled on a digital software.

The final application is a generally a fabric wallpaper, stretched canvas or framed wall art.

AI6_21_2017_5_31_37_AM_Kalakaari_Haathmain.jpg
Showcase 21 Jun 2017

CQ Interviews: kalakaarihaath reconfigures the role of the architect and the craftsman

During her final year thesis on building crafts of India as an architecture student, Sahiba Madan figured that “the culture of building is a collective phenomenon based on shared knowledge systems rather than individual acts of creation”. When she realised that the architect didn't originally exist in the traditional building culture, Sahiba's study shifted towards understanding the role of the architect vs. the craftsman.

“In today’s context, where individual scopes are so well defined in building cultures, the craftsmen are often looked at as an execution team, completely independent of design. We're constantly trying to reconfigure the role of the architect and the craftsman in every project,” says Sahiba while talking about her practice. CQ spoke to her about a few projects to understand the process and ethos of their creations. 

Could you pick one particular wall art (inspired by Indian traditional art) and tell us about its making?

One of the projects we recently completed is a studio space at Vile Parle, Mumbai. It was a multipurpose studio hosting various forms of physical exercise, dance, etc. catering to users from varying age groups, from 10 years to 50 years.

‘Every space tells a story’ – we used this as the base concept of the wall feature. With such varied users, it was important to keep the story simple; one that everyone could connect to. Very often the concept overtakes the actual character of the art form, which we wanted to avoid. The Gond style of art is aesthetic as well as traditionally relevant for storytelling. The theme majorly revolves around life. It draws parallels from what it means to be in the animal world.

The Gond style of art is aesthetic as well as traditionally relevant for storytelling.

We wanted to convey the concept of connecting the multipurpose function of the space and coexistence of users to that of the diverse and ever accommodating animal world. After studying the site, we worked on various compositions to understand the scale and reality of the artwork. The way people engage with art in a public space is very crucial. The design brief was to work with elements that are not too intrusive but were engaging. We even incorporated a short synopsis of the concept on one of the walls adjacent to the artwork. Once the rough sketch was in place, we started working towards the final draft. The mediums used in this feature are hand illustration and painting.

The design brief was to work with elements that are not too intrusive but engaging at the same time. The bridge between tradition and contemporary is to make it relevant in today’s context.

We did a rough mark-out on site to foresee any issues that could come up during the execution. Post this, the final artwork was taken into production and the execution was planned.  Since the final application was a wall decal/tattoo, the time required on site was much lesser than your typical mural. The entire process of concept derivation to production and installation took about three weeks.

When doing traditional art for contemporary residential or commercial space, how do you make sure that there is a seamless connect between traditional and contemporary? 

To me, the bridge between tradition and contemporary is to make it relevant in today’s context. The gesture is specific to each project and could be functional or aesthetic. 

Although there is a certain charm in the traditional methods of painting murals, very often they are outlasted or lost due to shoddy or no maintenance or because of lack of knowledge and accessibility. In this series, each piece of art is hand drawn/ handcrafted originally. However, the finished product is a wall decal which makes it much more functional and accessible to people across the world.

What was the most interesting part about the study you did in Ramgarh with different artisans, which eventually inspired Katra: Handcrafted furniture?

Ramgarh is a small town in the interiors of the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan. At its peak, it was one of the richest towns in the country and therefore was known to have an extremely flourishing culture. It is one the few places in India where the traditional building craft and their craftsmen still exist.

Adapting and working within the ergonomics without dividing design and craft is what inspired this piece.

During my visit to the town, I got a chance to get a hands-on experience with craftsmen working with wood, stone and brass craft. Wood work, known as lakdi kaam, is still popular in Ramgarh. In one of the workshops, they re-purposed leftover aged wood from the huge dilapidated haveli doors to create contemporary furniture pieces like tables, chairs, etc. for city homes. Adapting and working within the ergonomics without dividing design and craft is what inspired me the most.

This piece was created after attending a lakdi kaam workshop at Ramgarh.

Could you tell us about the making of the 'Spirituality and Yoga' wall art pieces?

The process is similar to that of the Gond art. The mediums we work with vary, however. We work with a range of mediums and materials, from photographs to hand paintings to digitally created textures. Each medium is worked on individually and then finally compiled on a digital software, typically Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator. Generally, an overall theme is conceptualised and mediums are selected based on the project brief, imagined style and aesthetic of the artwork.

Each medium is worked on individually and then finally compiled on a digital software.

Similar to the Gond series, we do a rough mark-out on site to check for any issues that could come up during the execution. Post this, the final artwork is taken into production and the execution is planned. The final application is generally a fabric wallpaper, stretched canvas or framed wall art. We are also working with techniques where we mix the chronology of processes we typically follow.

The final application is a generally a fabric wallpaper, stretched canvas or framed wall art.

kalakaarihaath brings in a unique combination of research, traditional Indian craft forms, handmade and digital to pretty much every project they do. You can explore more of their daily musings and projects on their website: www.kalakaarihaath.com