Reflections of Kolkata - design research
Updated: Apr 27, 2018
Introducing ourselves to Kolkata, the city of joy. A pre design research documentation about Kolkata, where we collect, filter and map the data for potential inspirations for designing a seat inspired by the city.
We recently got introduced to our design project for this semester which is based on designing a Chair or a seat which is contemporary yet with classic elements which talk about the place it’s inspired from. All of us were anticipating and nibbling on our nails to know about which we’d be conducting are research on and there in a few minutes me and my friend, Saurabh got ‘Kolkata’.
Kolkata, the city of joy is usually spoken of as the capital of west Bengal or most of the people even call it the city which is on the eastern banks of the river, Hooghly. City of Joy, I asked myself, what more is there to it? There the brainstorming and mapping process started off, a collage of sticky notes with a variety of factors to study about, we listed it all out and began with our process of Research work as the following:
What do we know of Kolkata out of the pictures we have seen?
Howrah Bridge, Victoria Memorial, British influence, Regal British Architecture, Fish Curry, Durga Puja, Red and white sarees, Egg Rolls, Yellow Taxis , Boats on the Hooghly, Rabanindranath Tagore, Kishore Kumar, Satyajit Ray, Mother Teresa, Rich culture and influence of Music…..there was a plethora of words as seen in the picture below:
Categories for survey and research
1. Place, geography
The city’s former name, Calcutta, is an Anglicized version of the Bengali name Kalikata. According to some, Kalikata is derived from the Bengali word Kalikshetra, meaning “Ground of (the goddess) Kali.”
Fashioned by the colonial British in the manner of a grand European capital—yet now set in one of the poorest and most overpopulated regions of India—Kolkata has grown into a city of sharp contrasts and contradictions. Kolkata has had to assimilate strong European influences and overcome the limitations of its colonial legacy in order to find its own unique identity.
2. Places of importance
Victoria Memorial, Kalibari, Saturday Club, Dakshineshwar, Sunderbans etc.
Kolkatans have long been active in literary and artistic pursuits. The city saw the dawn of the mid-19th-century literary movement that sparked a cultural renaissance throughout India. The best exponent of this movement was Rabindranath Tagore, whose remarkable creativity in poetry, music, drama, and painting continues to enrich the cultural life of the city. Kolkata remains at the vanguard of artistic movements in the country, and several artists’ societies present annual shows.
Kolkata once the British Capital had the best of gothic and neoclassical architecture combined with Indian influences, It was given It’s own name of ‘Calcutta Corinthian’ for richly engraved columns.
In contemporary Kolkata the skyline is broken in some areas by skyscrapers and tall multistory blocks. The cityscape has changed rapidly. The Chowringhee area in central Kolkata, once a row of palatial houses, has been given up to offices, hotels, and shops. In northern and central Kolkata, buildings are still mainly two or three stories high.
7. Local Material
Cane, Terracotta, Silver, Mahogany, Bamboo, Conch shells, Lime etc.
Floral motifs, Venetian blinds, Friezes, Carvings etc.
After researching upon the various categories, we came down to discuss our own insights which had a vocabulary of Color, Fonts, Fabric, Howrah Bridge, Transportaion- The Cabs and Taxis, Baskets, Cane furniture, how Kolkata is a place of thinkers and the birth place of revolutionaries in art and culture…we sought the keywords and the pictorial representation coming down to sketching pur concepts and ideas seeking inspiration from the same.
We found out that the chaise lounge and recliner was one of the most used furniture and had a unique design, it was used by the ‘Thinkers’ like Rabanindranath Tagore. We established a connect between furniture and the people. Now what’s important is the derivations well develop in terms of design, what is our story?
After gathering our insights the stage of the development of concept and ideating starts, where we either take inspiration form the regal British influence or try focusing on the thematics of furniture from the urban context of Kolkata.