‘Come sit’ on these chairs designed by NID students – each is inspired by a state of India

Graduate students of NID, Ahmedabad, have made 14 chairs inspired from India’s states the boats of Kashmir, the tigers of Kaziranga, the architecture of Rajasthan, and more. ‘Come Sit’ at this exhibition at NID, until July 22.

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Pravinsinh Solanki with participating students at the exhibition

The National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, has been a recipient of positive news of late. The institute witnessed a significant increase in the number of applications in the ‘Person with Disability’ category this year. With the help of the BM Institute of Mental Health, NID will scrutinise these applications for admission. Also, it is reported that the number of engineers opting for Design course has gone up. Maybe future designs by students will now be especially practical to meet the industry’s demands! Meanwhile, if you look at the culturally influenced designs made by students of NID during their latest exhibition Come Sit, or આવો બેસી જાઓ, you will be amazed.

The doors for this collaborative furniture exhibition were opened on July 17. 14 students of NID, from the 2017 Master of Design batch, have showcased 14 different types of chairs, all of which are inspired from various states of India. Some have used indigenous materials native to specific geographies, while others have followed traditional methods of making chairs. A few students have also created their own designs, but most of them are unique designs incorporated using traditional methods and not a copy of the original existing furniture. Pravinsinh Solanki, who is a faculty at the Furniture & Interior Design department of NID, mentored the students in developing these chairs. He said, “This is not an exhibition, but an experience. We are not inviting people to look at them (the chairs), but to sit and experience them holistically.”

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Zara Huazer’s Chair 118 particularly caught my eye. It is inspired by the Kashmiri Nav (boat). An iridescent Bengali easy chair called Boshun, made by Aishwarya D and Saurabh Murmoo has armrests that are extended for placing a small pocket diary or cup of tea on it. And Pamaljeet Singh Sidhu’s tubb.02 is a low production-cost chair, weaved using cotton ropes in a single loop on metal rods. You can sit on it in multiple postures. Since I am often down with back pain, I was drawn to Sana Soni’s Jaipur Blue design which has a curved, sturdy and supportive backrest and claims to be extremely supportive to the lumbar region of the sitter’s back.

Student Athira Ashok has made a chair dedicated to Keralian culture that weaves jute ropes onto teak wood and uses smoothly textured coconut shells to create its back. Muninda Mohanta’s Bullboo chair, meanwhile, is another well-designed masterpiece made in bamboo and cane. The Bullboo’s armrests are designed to resemble the shapely flow of a bull’s horn. The material used in making the Bullboo–woven cane and bamboo– are part of the identity of North East Indian furniture.

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Describing the process of design undertaken by the graduate students, Solanki said, “The students took more than eight weeks to make these aesthetically rich, durable and ergonomically perfect chairs. The chair-making craft is part of our simple furniture-making course and, during this tenure, they even learn to make complex and system design furniture, for which each one makes volumetric multipurpose furniture and forecasts about the holistic usage of it; from design to death of a piece of furniture, including its reuse, recycling, carbon footprint, etc. We don’t allow students to (simply) come up with an AutoCAD design and have it approved. Each student has researched, created sketches and hand drawings, planned the design using AutoCAD, created small sample sculptures of chairs, and then begun his/her task at the workshop.”

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While the different chairs and indigenous culture visible in the works are very alluring, what is also noteworthy is the fact that much effort has gone into formulating the presentation of the furniture. A poster has been designed for every chair, which gives a project description and specifies the methodology of making it. Each student has made a mention of his/her blog address, which contains thorough documents of the process of making. A few have even included QR Codes, which can redirect audiences to their web link. Since the ‘Aquarium’, the gallery in which the exhibition is housed, is a glass enclosure, the rich architecture and greenery of NID forms an appropriate backdrop to every product.

This one-of-a-kind exhibition invites everyone to come and sit on these chairs. If you visit the show, do make it a point to interact with these talented designers to find out what the hidden features of every chair are. The Aquarium gallery space at NID will host the exhibition until July 22, open for all from 09:00 AM to 06:00 PM.

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