#projectinterpret’s 3rd quarter

The fantastic Gothic MCGM (Municipal) building – now part of UNESCO World Heritage Sites


In the months of July – September, #projectinterpret explored new avenues of Access through live coverage of talks, apart from the usual heritage, history, museums, arts and culture visits, explorations, workshops and postings.

Knowyourcity challenge: started on VarnikaDesigns Instagram and Facebook social media profiles in the last quarter, this game continued with insights across the country with Mumbai, Ranthamore, Jaipur and Santiniketan.

The Art Deco and Victorian Gothic Ensembles –  architectural heritage of the ‘Maximum City’, Mumbai (earlier Bombay) – have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in July 2018. It is our duty to save our heritage for the future.

Connecting to the Youth: #projectinterpret attended two interesting discussions on the depiction of Indian wildlife in cave and miniature paintings, sculptures, religious texts and as ‘vahanas’ (vehicles) of goddesses. These illuminated the presence of the dodo, turkey, rhino, tigers and elephants, apart from some imaginary birds, in the visual conscious of the Indian mind through generations.

The first talk by art historian Dr Asok Kumar Das was on the real and imaginary birds in Mughal miniatures from the 17th and 18th century India, most paintings are part of manuscripts at museum collections all over the world.

Asok Das Rhino talk_31st Aug
The book release and illuminated talks by the authors about India’s unicorns through history

The second was a book release by The Marg Foundation on ‘The story of India’s Unicorns’ was released last month by the Marg Foundation. The authors Shibani Bose, Asok Kumar Das and Divyabhanu Sinh Chavda, respectively traced the depiction of the Indian Rhino on cave paintings, temple terracotta, Mughal miniature paintings, coats of arms, ‘howdahs’ and with contemporary Indian goddesses. These have proved the presence of the Rhino across the entire country extending beyond its present habitat in the North East. Rhinos were feared, hunted, revered but in all these formats were part of the Indian consciousness. Elephants and Rhinos, two of India’s largest animals still peacefully coexist and would continue to do so without active negative human contribution. This book is the first of its kind ever, treasure it so that we can appreciate these formidable yet peace loving unicorns 🙂

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The three authors: (r-l): Drs DS Chavda, Shibani Ghosh, Asok Kumar Das

Guided Tours: This time we visited Kanheri caves and King’s Circle in search for the past. While the Kanheri caves were Buddhist made residential and religious spaces now within the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Borivali East, the King’s Circle are of Matunga East has the chain of the best South Indian cuisine within it. This delectable cuisine is to be found in the Rama Nayak group of restaurants and cafes, extremely popular of these are the Madras and Mysore Cafes.

New layers to the existing narratives were added by the students from History of Architecture and Cultural Studies courses from two different design schools.

There was a super fun cuisine workshop ‘Freedom and Food’ on India’s 70th Independence Day – 15th August – at uber cool ‘Bombay to Barcelona Library Café’. Have written already as ‘Love, Pyaar, Amor @Bombay to Barcelona Library Café’.

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The workshop participants. Photo courtesy: Amin Sheikh


For the next quarter, #projectinterpret will continue highlighting the stories of some of the most dynamic young Indian designers, from the National Institute of Design (NID), India’s premier Design Institute, established in 1961. It is now an ‘Institution of National Importance’ by the Act of Parliament, by virtue of the National Institute of Design Act 2014. It is also recognised by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, Government of India, as a Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.


I have already written about my association with NID from 2002 as a Researcher and Content Editor with their design of India’s first Monetary Museum for the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Victoria Memorial Hall Modernisation Plan. I was also honoured to be one of the final editorial team members for the massive ‘Handmade in India’ book project, sponsored by the Development Commissioner Handicrafts.


The two NID designers who I have written of who are bringing about social change and impact through design are Usha Prajapati Varia (Samoolam) and Sandeep Sangaru (Sangaru Objects) for ‘The Hindu’ .




ButtonMasala raincoat designers. Photo by Anuj Sharma

The next designers and their stories to watch out for are Anuj Sharma (ButtonMasala), Priyanka Tolia (Chitku) and the Echo Stream group based out of Sikkim.

So keep a lookout for VarnikaDesigns on Instagram and Facebook apart from https://varnikadesigns.wordpress.com/





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