With a high degree of interest in the psychedelic, eclectic world
of Indian handicrafts, my thought wanders towards a key aspect of
all beautiful things: Design. All the art forms that are popular
today are mostly determined by artisans based on traditions that
have been passed down the generations. There are traces of
influences that have crept on over a period of time but largely
there is a gap between modernity and an art.
I would put the design elements in three parts: a) use of raw
materials: wood, paper mache, stone, bone, horn, clay, leather,
metal etc b) use of patterns, colours: flowers & fauna,
animals, gods, tribal art etc and c) use of shapes: boxes, animal
figures, waste baskets, furniture, serving dishes, vases etc.
Now, lets see what can be done for each of these elements. Raw
materials: As time has gone by, some of the raw materials are
either very expensive or not easily available. There is a need for
innovation in this area. There are some elements that have changed
but nothing large scale. Lets take the example of the art of
leather puppets that obviously need leather that is treated.
Leather prices have gone up tremendously over a period of time
which in turn pushes up the prices of the end products. A simple
solution would be using canvas that would have more steady supply
and prices. Maybe the art would not have that the same feel of
Coming to the aspect of patterns. the world has changed
tremendously over a period of time. patterns are now only subject
to the imagination of the artist. Flowers can be created even if
they did not exist before. Circles, brushes, swipes, ribbons and
thousands of shapes exist today that can be rendered on any of the
materials that have been used. I believe that it is time for Indian
artisans to experiment, creating uniqueness that never existed
The same hold true for the shapes and its use cases. One great
inspiration can be the whole animation industry. There are
characters that are just a figment of imagination but they are made
real and lively through animations. These in turn could be adopted
by the Indian handicrafts industry to transform the art into a more
global place. Similarly, shapes for utility goods have gone mammoth
changes. Design elements in Ikea products is as important as the
pricing. A fruit bowl made of bamboo could look dramatically
different if the shapes had different edges weaves. Colour
combinations could be experimented with more combinations.
Customers have a quest for uniqueness. Design elements can create
that uniqueness. I feel that there is a strong case of marrying the
traditional handicraft centres of orissa, jharkand, jodhpur,
kashmir, uttar pradesh etc and combine them with the contemporary
design of the rest of the world.
Some of the exporters of handicrafts in the country have begin the
journey to make Indian pieces have a more global appeal.
Unfortunately, they do not cater to the gorwing domestice