Aug 20, 2015

Never meet your idols in the flesh.

It was painful to see the thin layer of sophistication and austerity melt over the cup of tea and few words.

Aug 16, 2015

Signed up for a JB membership, for yourstruly’s sanity and bank-balance seemed to depend on it. Post much wandering among the quasi-baroque of Hiranandani, one finds JB’s shelves lined with plastic-pouched paperbacks through a window that disappeared to take its condensation very seriously. It is packed with a surprisingly well-curated collection, playing to all ignored, weird corners of the gallery. 

Got initiated into Bukowski with Ham on Rye, finished Looking Closer over two weekends in the main library, nibbled on Hello, I am ErikDesigning NewsI Used to Be a Design Student, and Drawing Type. Tried reading Don Norman again, and failed to find myself a very good reason to go through the pain of rolling all the three shelves off for it time and again. The department library is disappointing and noisy; not how I like my Sulaimani. Lectures are fun and frequent; the upcycled sketchbook is seeing some regular, old-fashioned action lately.

Aug 10, 2015

MPRComp.jpg

It is in another ceramic studio, nine hours from Paldi, that Mr.D’s message arrives, bringing with it the news of MP Ranjan’s untimely demise. The message is an austere single sentence; one could see Mr.D struggling to type it out.

MPR took us through DCC at NID when we were unformed, idealistic teenagers nibbling at this alien, amorphous thing called design, while his contagious passion for a people-centred design practice was almost palpable, like the hot, humid Amdavadi air in the summer. Three and a half years later, I would interview him for my graduation project, and he would talk me through the enormous volume of grainy, digitised photographs from his early days as a student of design, his toy-factory years, the beginnings of DCC, Katlamara and Jawaja projects; images of an Indian design identity being shaped as if in a slow-turning lathe. It is this hands-on-designer in MPR that surprisingly finds scant mention in most media. Among the photographs were moments from field trips across India, making one long for times of simpler, more meaningful things, times when building these things was of greater value than the pedestals they were put on. His insistence on this greater purpose of design as a profession continues to be relevant even after five decades of Charles Eames’ ‘cardboard-computer’ vision for indigenous design.

His spirit will continue to inspire generations of people to look at design as a powerful tool shaping societies and livelihoods. May his soul rest in peace.

Anupam Purty shot the portrait for Dekho. The image on the right is from MPR’s archive. 
Notes: DCC is Design Concepts and Concerns, the course helmed by MPR at NID. The Eames’ cardboard reference is from An Eames Primer, Eames Demetrios. See page 226 here.

Aug 4, 2015

It is by accident the first bittersweet glass of Sulaimani finds someone new to a city. 

The ten-past-midnight cafe has a boarded up half-counter and a furlong-long menu up front, yellow ketchup bottles allover tabletopia and a dog or two writhing scripts on the floor, taking well punctuated turns. It is the kind of place where you find a stray grain off someone’s chicken-fried-rice on your plate of very honest chicken, or aloo paranthas wrapped around more aloo, and keep not looking at it with such exhausting deliberation you end up ordering another premature dish and drown it in nimboo paani. It is at this fine establishment one notices the girl—violet kurta, violent tresses, oversized earrings and a generous smile threatening to run into the oversized earrings—by accident on the first day and then otherwise. Mostly otherwise. Then one goes up to the half-counter to ‘askforyourmenu’ and lets the shopkeeper concoct an acceptable version of the lemony beverage. One finds out the ‘tea’ part is the kind of affair wrapped in paper-bags, and continues to hold on to the glass until it gets awkward. Then the samesame girl walks up to and asks you if you are a Malayali or have ever seen one up close. You don’t think she can’t tell, but you do.

Aug 1, 2015

On H&F, TVSchneider on universitified design education and prettiness, among other things.

Jul 31, 2015

Listening to three parts Sedaris in Bombay.

Updatethingy: The link doesn’t work anymore. I’m keeping the dead link. Maybe I will put it in a small mason jar and keep looking at it until the linkiness wears off and only the letters remain. Then I will clean the mason jar and transfer my collection of used ballpoint nibs to it and then look at them instead. Because we don’t do illegal stuff. And stuff.

Jul 8, 2015

3EmptyDesksKL111400.jpg

At KL11, we’d occupied the slightly larger than necessary quarters hoping to grow the space into a coworking environment, and now have three desks dusted and decked out at #6BCB. To see what it takes to put up with us on a daily basis, send us a link to your work, via hello@kl11.in

Jul 5, 2015

LodQuilonITFSpecimen.jpg

Made a few of these* for ITF’s new release, Quilon. This one quotes from Vaikom Muhammed Basheer’s Pathummayute Aatu (പാത്തുമ്മയുടെ ആട്).

Quilon is an old-style Malayalam type family designed to work well as running text. It is as unpretentious and to-the-point as text-only faces can be, with some surprisingly beautiful conjuncts and old-style ligatures (for a text face seen at large sizes). The glyph count that runs into many hundreds sport some combination gymnastics I’ve never seen used in print before. In that respect, whether intended or otherwise, this is a font file that moonlights as a cultural museum of sorts; impossibly large glyphsets, attempting to preserve the development history of the script. If one were to ignore the spacing oddities and opentype substitution inconsistencies that make using it on multi-signature publications a potential nightmare, it may grow into a workhorse in one’s book typesetting stable in time.

It is Basheer’s eleventh death anniversary today. His works continue to defy attempts of translation with their souls intact.  

*Not every sample image you see on the site is mine; some sport conjuncts—unfortunately—rendered wrong.

Next → Page 1 of 4