India's premier luxury lifestyle women's magazine
January 04, 2016

Quick 18 with Sarthak Sengupta and Sahil Bagga

Text by Saumya Sinha

For reinterpreting the symbolic value of the christmas tree with an artistic Indian perpective

Sarthak Sengupta (SS): New Delhi.
Sahil Bagga (SB): Ghaziabad, New Delhi.

The idea behind the Kalpataru: The Wishing Tree…
­SS and SB: “Kalpataru: The Wishing Tree is made up of an ensemble of free-standing structures in the form of classic Indian motifs such as the lotus petal and the ambi or paisley. The concepts of nature and culture represented by the mythical ‘tree of life’ are a reflection on some of the customs observed during traditional Diwali celebrations. This light installation not only celebrates illumination in its literal sense but is also a metaphor for the celebration of hope, prosperity and ecology.”

Your first design…
­SS and SB: “The Magia Nera Longpi collection was our first. Over the years we have added new pieces to this range or made newer versions of the initial designs. It was displayed at the Triennale Design Museum in Milan and was also a part of the Be Open Exhibition in Delhi.”

Favourite installation artists…
­SS and SB: “Anish Kapoor, Subodh Gupta and Japanese artist Takashi Murakami.”

Most memorable work of art…
­SS and SB: “The Kalpataru is close to our heart. Also, the Kerala Sutra collection is special, the Kerala leather puppet sculpture and the Parrot diya panel in particular.”

The cause and concept of ‘Zero Kilometer design’…
­SS and SB: “The concept was born out of the belief that designing beautiful and functional products and projects should be combined with the efforts to involve and preserve local traditions and craftsmanship specific to that locality. The effort is to bring out the human story that has been the reference for each of these products. Local and rural artisans are regularly given opportunities to collaborate with the studio, giving a rustic charm to all products. Since most of the products require handiwork and individual attention, the look and feel of each design is far from factory made. So normally, no two pieces are identical.”

If not a designer then…
SS: “I would have been an Anthropologist.”
SB: “I would be an Archaeologist.”

­SS and SB: “Our two greatest inspirations are nature and culture. So we will never run out of inspirations.”

Role models…
­SS and SB: “Our favourite architect is the legendary Spanish architect, the Late Antoni Gaudi and our favourite product designer is the legendary Italian designer the Late Achille Castiglioni.”

When not working…
­SS and SB: “We love to travel although we’re not sure if it is fair to say that we are not working while travelling.”

Design is…
­SS and SB: “Meaningful.”

Life as a designer…
­SS and SB: “Is very fulfilling and insightful, on the other hand, life as a design entrepreneur is stressful and full of challenges. We experience both aspects in our career.”

Favourite reads:
­SS and SB: “Design for the Real World by Victor Papanek and works of Umberto Eco.”

Your first show was… 
­SS and SB: “At Alliance Francaise, Delhi.”

Start-up challenges…
­SS and SB: “The funds, of course. We are a self-funded studio so project funding remains a challenge. Having said that, we are extremely grateful to our clients for offering us assignments with design briefs that allow us to think out of the box. This is the most important factor for the growth of our studio.”

Harshest criticism…
­SS and SB: “We have been accused by some for being overexposed. We don’t even know what that means….”

Upcoming projects…
­SS and SB: “We are designing a British Cafe in London with an Indian accent…it’s a project in progress…. We are also creating a furniture and lighting collection for Jindal Steel Ltd.. We are creating artistic steel furniture for living rooms and lounges by drawing references and inspirations from the arts and crafts of Gujarat.”

Looking forward to in 2016…
­SS and SB: “Our interior project in London. We have also been invited to exhibit our products at the International Furniture Fair in Singapore.”

Check out their other works of art:

Kalpataru: The Wishing Tree is on display at the The Grand Entrance, Victoria and Albert Museum, London until January 6, 2016.

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