work in progress for better tomorrow

This bench is inspired by a country where work always seems to be in progress, but that better tomorrow is somehow always out of reach. The form of the bench was influenced by the scaffolding surrounding Kitab Mahal, the building where Studio X is housed.

This is a functional object that will never be complete — as it will change in terms of structure as well as surface treatments — thus standing as a metaphor of India itself, where, work is always on-going but somehow never really complete. It also straddles the worlds of “art” and “design” by being functional yet incomplete. The idea was also to explore the Indian concept of #MakeFirstThinkLater and bring it into the design lexicon as well.

Another aspect being explored here is where the maker also becomes the designer — which used to be the case — but in contemporary society there is a rift between the mind of the "creator" and the hands of the "maker". Here we are taking an idea that the designer has still conceived of but giving enough freedom to the maker to try out new things. In this case the makers are laborers on daily wage — who, are used to doing certain tasks on an everyday basis, which made this task of thinking of the form and the design challenging for them. There was a lot of debate and discussion amongst themselves to try to understand how to create what the designer had conceived on paper. For a while, I let them do their thing and see the outcome, but after some time my interference was needed to reach to the outcome.

This artwork was conceived at Porosity Kabari at Studio X by Ishan Khosla in February 2016.

Work in Progress for Better Tomorrow has been published in Habitus and Trends. It was also part of the IDF Mumbai Design Trail.

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Porosity Kabari is an interdisciplinary, cross-cultural, collaborative project whereby Indian creative thinker Ishan Khosla, Australian object designer Trent Jansen, and Australian architect/artist Professor Richard Goodwin participated in an internse 3 week long workshop in the heart of Mumbai — which looked at various contemporary aspects related to the market, the city and the mass production/consumption cycle, sustainability and various other aspects that came up as a result of the process. The project challenged these three designers to collaborate in Mumbai’s ‘Chor Bazaar’ (thieves market) and ‘Studio X’, using the bazaar as their only source of materials and making processes. In the bazaar, the designers learned from spontaneous conversation and experimentation with the vendors and crafts people working in this manic market place. Conversely, Studio X afforded the designers a space for considered discussion and precise prototyping, in the development of refined ideas to be taken back into the bazaar.

Porosity Kabari — Creative Rationale:
How can something become something else? This is the essence of sustainable design in a contingent society such as India — a society without the common social safeguards of developed nations, one where the survival of each individual is determined by their unique ability to be creative and resourceful. While the rest of the world struggles with the environmental implications of designed obsolescence and disposable consumption, India is a place where resourcefulness is part of the everyday. Found throughout India, ‘Kabari Bazaars’ (Junk Markets) and 'Chor Bazaars' (thieves markets) are the neighbourhoods where many of India's useful things end up at the end of their long lives. It is in these bazaars that many useful objects are given a second life – car panels are transformed into ad-hock cookers and old clothing is quilted into rugs for snake charmers. Radical transformation at its best. What they didn't initially realize was that this object was inspired by their work — the scaffoldings done by them in the building.

One core principal of the Chor Bazaar is the ad-libbed nature of making, where time spent agonising over a design decision is income lost. The short period of time allocated to the designers
(3 weeks) and the ad-hock making methods adopted by bazaar workers meant that design decisions were made quickly. The designers made decision in the moment, as the maker with whom they worked gave shape to those decisions with an immediacy that is seldom experienced in the Australian context. The complete novelty of these work practices, combined with the exotic material palette found in the Chor Bazaar, forced the designers to adopt an entirely new method of designing, changing their practices and providing the potential for a series of outcomes that are unique within their portfolios. The sculptural furniture objects created in Mumbai's Chor Bazaar and Studio X formed the Porosity Kabari Exhibition. This exhibition was presented by Mumbai's Studio X in February 2016.