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Designing for a Subcontinent: Ten Notable Indian Designers

Designing for a Subcontinent: Ten Notable Indian Designers

Picture of Sophie Finney
Updated: 28 October 2016
Contemporary Indian design is emerging as an industry with great potential. As a country with a rich cultural and artistic history, it is unsurprising that the subcontinent has turned its creative hand to this expanding and lucrative industry.


The design industry in India is slowly but surely beginning to gather momentum. Often in the shadow of the country’s powerful advertising industry, design does not always get the recognition that it deserves. However with a number of specific design schools, and the initiation of a Mumbai Design Week in 2013, India is beginning to think more seriously about design as an industry in its own right.

Given the strength of advertising in the country, it is hardly surprising that graphic design is quite strong right. This growth parallels the rising affluence of the Indian population, which has given a boost to the luxury product design sector. Sustainability and responsible growth are also high on the design agenda, as many of India’s poorer areas are subjected to immense overcrowding and unsanitary conditions. Designers are at the forefront of finding innovative solutions to resolve these issues and improve the general quality of life in the country.


Version Absolute Design Studio

Engaged in the processes of conceptualising and developing design solutions for the environment, Version Absolute Design Studio (VADS) is a design consultancy firm. Working on a range of projects that encompass architecture, interior design and communications design, VADS aims to create evolutionary and exciting solutions for the built environment. Often, the firm combines elements of all three spheres of design in order to provide the most cohesive and comprehensive solution for the client, such as in the creation of an interior public space. The Art Sastra Gallery project in South New Delhi is one such example. Designed specifically for visual, digital and performing arts, this gallery uses intelligent lighting, moving glass walls and fabric screens that can be flexibly used to create different spaces depending on the needs of the artists.


Vinay Pateel

Based in Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore), India, Vinay Pateel is an artist and designer who works in a variety of media, from large installation pieces to illustration and poster design. His graphic work is bright, colourful and above all fun, lending itself to fashion prints as well as advertising. April 2013 saw Pateel creating The Tunnel, made entirely from bamboo and cloth for the India Surf Festival held at Odisha. Depicting a barrelling wave 20ft in depth, The Tunnel represents the emerging water-sports scene in India as it brings together Indians from all over the country. Composed of a number of bamboo squares at slight angles to one another, this piece is both stunning and sturdy enough to be clambered all over, making it a fun and interactive piece.


Planet 3 Studio

As a young, internationally award winning design and architecture practice, Planet 3 Studio chooses to represent the vanguard of forward-thinking design in India. Its initial approach towards new projects sees the company creating solutions that are visually appealing, fresh and above all contain elements of wisdom, wit and fun. This is evident in the Vidyalankar Institute of Technology project, Mumbai in which a warehouse was refurbished to create new facilities for the Institute. By radically rethinking campus architecture in India, the building has been organised as a group of distinct facilities connected by an interior promenade with various alcoves to accommodate student activity. Brightly colored, it is hugely reminiscent of the post-modernist Memphis Group, and creates a fun atmosphere whilst still being conducive to study.


Anab Jain

Educated in India, London and Vienna, Anab Jain has an MA in Interaction Design and is a highly valued consultant regarding both strategic and speculative design and technology projects for a number of high profile clients including Nokia, NESTA and Microsoft Research. In 2009, she founded Superflux, which, although based in London, has strong links to Ahmedabad, India. Working closely with clients and collaborators on projects, Superflux is particularly interested in the way in which emerging technologies can interface with the environment. For example, Project LiloRann (‘Green Desert’) uses design research, environmentalism, and architecture in the deserts of North Gujurat where agricultural land is transforming to desert. Here Superflux is experimenting with ways to effectively combat desertification around the planet, without risking those who rely on the land for their livelihoods.


Sangaru Design

A multidisciplinary design studio, Sangaru Design uses its wide range of talents to manipulate materials, combining engineering with craft to deliver unique solutions. Founded in 2004, this design studio has been actively involved with the Craft Sector, working with local people and materials in India to create products for the global market. Specifically regarding craft, Sangaru Design has worked with bamboo, exploring new methods of construction that use solid bamboo poles to create a variety of furniture. Using modular forms and lamination joints, Sangaru Designs Truss Me range is a stylish yet sustainable furniture system that utilised the skills of local artisans thus keeping traditional crafts alive, whilst applying them to a modern context.