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‘Time to bring the design focus back to who we are’

By Puja Gupta

New delhi, Oct 2 (udaipur kiran) While growing up in Rajasthan, designer Raghavendra Rathore was amazed to see how the local weavers used to get their colours and weaves right without taking any reference. But the most fascinating part for him was that their products sold, unlike today when the artisans are mostly struggling to make a living.

“I grew up in the Thar desert. My father was an MLA and he exposed me to these amazing opportunities to explore things. What fascinated me was the ability of the weavers to be able to stitch a carpet without a Google search or a reference to any text book. They used to get the colours just right, and the products would sell. What really caught my attention was the selling part…” said Rathore at a discussion organised by Jaipur-based Gurukul School of Design (GSD) in Gurugram.

“Today, we are forgetting the sensitive side of design, which actually makes us who we are. We are relying so much on Western philosophy, ideas and technologies. It’s the time to bring the focus back on who we are,” he added at the “GSD Spotlight” last week.

According to Rathore, who is also one of the founders of GSD, this is the reason why Indian designers are not competing at a global stage and are largely seen by the international designers as “ethnic”. “It comes back to the whole philosophy of who we are. Because we are different, we are people who weave our lives around festivals. We are people who see colour. But the question really is what is that in which Indian designers excel. It’s okay if you are not an international brand. But who are we and what design really should mean to us is the question,” he said.

Rathore believes that design in India was never about just the fabric or the cuts. “I find the chain got snapped somewhere. I took my son the other day to show him Parliament House and other heritage buildings, but I knew could only remember and find 3-4 structures. I think there is certain reckoning. We have unfortunately succumbed to the idea of showing our spaces to people. We should go back to the old way of feeling comfortable in our own cocoon. For me, design really is the heart beat of our nation, the society,” said the ace designer.

Other than Rathore, a host of personalities attended the panel discussion on the importance of teaching design and creativity to children from the school level. Among those who spoke were classical dancers Raja Reddy and Kaushalya Reddy, Vice Chairman of Sun Group Shiv Khemka and principals of many schools.

Speaking at the event, Khemka said: “Design creates culture, culture shapes value and value designs future. So for a bright future we need to focus on design. Design is intelligence made visible. We need to nurture design in our young ones.”

(Puja Gupta can be contacted at [email protected])

–udaipur kiran

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