Nine Dot Squares, a three-day festival, recently brought together diverse artisanal communities and design influencers to educate audiences about the roots of Indian design and its adaptability in contemporary spaces. An annual initiative, its maiden edition was hosted at Diggi Palace in Jaipur, and put together by architect Ritu Khandelwal and Shalini & Ramesh Agarwal, supported by the Indian Institute of Architects—Rajasthan chapter. The festival also aimed at commemorating the recent title of World Craft City bestowed upon Jaipur by the World Crafts Council.
A weekend trail, the event displayed regional artisanal products, reinvigorated techniques illustrated through workshops and live art demonstrations on Lime Jali, Araish, Blue Pottery, Stone Inlay, Blacksmithy, Terracotta Mural and Sculpture, Glass Thikri by skilled artisans and craftsman. These workshops gave over a hundred students the opportunity to learn the craft from the master craftsmen and understand its challenges and application in modern space designs. More than 100 students enrolled in these workshops.
Visitors also engaged in dialogues with design connoisseurs and influencers through keynote speeches, debates and conversations over Chai Chat sessions titled ‘Ignited Minds’. Aman Nath, writer, hotelier and architectural restorer, in his talk titled Mera Bharat Pareshaan to Mera Bharat Mahaan, asked designers to think about the roots of Indian design philosophy, its adaptation, recognition and understanding in modern times.
Vibhor Sogani, an alumnus of NID Ahmedabad, talked about his Affair with an Alloy, highlighting the large-scale implementation of design and related challenges. Ayush Kasliwal, Creative Director Anantaya, in conversation with architect Shamini Shanker, evaluated how our position in place and time affects design and thereby “objects becoming messages of context and culture”. Kavita Chaudhary, Director Jaipur Rugs and Meghna Ajit, Director Beeja Foundation, along with Alan Tweedie from Arts Interaction, brought to light Capacity Building in Rural Communities with experiences and case in point. Product Designer Mukul Goyal liked to look at traditional craft more from its technology point of view rather than the visual language. Architect Ashmit Singh Alag spoke about the impact of psychology in the process of design. He explored how vision affects the overall perception of design and how it can be easily used to benefit the final outcome. He focused on the theory of opulent spaces, speed lines, tree of refuge and other sensory inputs. More power to such initiatives that highlight India’s rich artisanal heritage!