Although the word 'design' did not exist in the ancient Indian vocabulary, and was
transplanted onto Indian soil less than 200 years ago, the country has always had a very
evolved manner and system of creation. Like many other old cultures, India followed the
evolutionary process - where objects and design solutions evolved through several persons
of varied skills, over a protracted period of time.
The country's lengthy and continuous interactions with other cultures puts forward an innate ability to assimilate, imbibe and adapt. As observed by us, in the India Past Forward exhibition, design in India appears to be a result of an ingenious continuum that has eliminated the redundant and assimilated the useful since time immemorial; providing a complex framework of what, therefore, may be considered Indian or defined as iconic to India.
Hand picked objects from the categories of Appliances, Kitchenware, Objects of Security, Seating and Surface Decoration allow us to infer the qualities that unite the many India's. We trace the early origins of these domestic objects for context and then follow their journey of the last 150 years; from the period before India's independence to the decades of nation-building and from the post-liberalisation era after 1991 - which was fuelled by the Internet age - to the globalised, digital contemporary environment of today.
This, then, is the story of design in India as told by its everyday objects.