‘Design is definitely not only about beautification. While aesthetics are crucial, there are many aspects which are integral to design’, says Vibhor Sogani, Industrial Designer, National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad
Tell us about yourself in detail and what made you come into this industry? What does aesthetics mean to you?
My father was a geophysicist and therefore, I used to travel a lot with him as a kid and spend a lot of time in camps, staying in tents for months at one location. I witnessed diverse landscapes while growing up and loved playing with forms and materials. After I finished my schooling in Jaipur, I had a session with a career counsellor followed by an aptitude test. I was told that I could do well in the design field since my 3D visualization was good, and that marked the beginning of my design journey.
I feel both aesthetics and honesty in expression are crucial in our profession. Both to an extent arrived from passion and that in my mind drives the profession. While honesty of expression typically simplifies the thought process and design solutions; it also provides clarity and aesthetics, therefore, become integral and rooted in design.
Trends and long-lasting design – how do you build a sustainable bridge between these?
The longevity of design arises from quality of design. If the design is truly sensible, it addresses the issue in a minimal and true manner. It will have a long life. The trends are more on the surface and superficial and mostly to do with aesthetics. So, good design can always be made trendy and not the other way round.
How would you define your approach to design?
‘Simple is Beautiful’ and ‘Less is More’ are the fundamental principles that guide me to work towards timeless designs that one does not get bored of. I try to make forms that appear effortless.
What do you think a room that feels right will be like ten years from now?
If the room addresses the needs, the function and the comfort of the user, it is likely to survive the test of time. The challenge here is that in 10 years, the human need itself changes so therefore, in my opinion, improvisation is a necessity.
What is the one product that you are particularly proud of?
Each project gave me a high, while it was being pursued. The journey of creation is always a bit of a roller coaster ride. There is always a phase of deliberation and even frustration. Some projects, which are more challenging, invariably give that extra sense of fulfilment. The installation series on ‘Mahatma Gandhi’ was perhaps one of my most challenging one, as I needed to deviate from my natural pattern of thinking. The ‘trophies’ that I designed for mega cricket events, especially the ‘India – Pakistan’ series gave me an adrenaline rush and of course, the attention it got in the cricket- crazy nation like ours.
What are your sources of inspiration?
I come across innumerable sources of inspiration, while travelling. I am a person who derives his observations from natural phenomena, forms in nature and the physical environment. When I see something that has an emotional appeal, or a process, or is very simplistic in terms of its characters, I sketch the object in my mind and try to materialize its value, and its meaning within my designs.
Do you think design is about solving problems, or a rigorous beautification of our built environments? Explain.
Design is definitely not only about beautification. While aesthetics are crucial, there are many aspects which are integral to design. For example, function, human interface, environmental responsibility, technology, etc. One has to smartly shuffle the choice of factors which govern design, depending upon the needs of the problem and priorities.
Do you think good design can shift and change human behaviour and create new social conditions, cross-pollinate ideas, materials, behaviours, aesthetics and language from one typology to the other?
Yes. Design is meant to do all of the above in the right manner. Design connects to people at multiple levels. While it can bring joy to one’s life and add life to a space, it can also communicate socially relevant aspects of the society. Good design catches the attention of all alike – from young to old. Hence, it can be used as a powerful tool to convey subtly or strongly certain topical issues.
Are your designs influenced by the past or are you solely focused on that which is modern?
The past always influences my design even if the thought process and the outcomes are modern. The past knowledge and experience often add value and depth to the design concept. As designers, the context of our project would define the aesthetics whether it is modern or classic and as designers, we are required to adapt ourselves to integrate with the concept.
Can you explain the thinking behind the minimalist designs of yours?
Minimalism is a quality I appreciate. It takes utmost clarity of form and material and the subject of inspiration itself is to produce a work of art that expresses maximum emotions through minimum lines. It takes a lot of practice to attain that sense of observation and therefore, it is the challenges involved in creating minimal designs that I admire. For example, the Golden Dew – a delicate piece of light.
You clearly appreciate vibrancy. How do you think vibrant colours translate in design?
My work seems vibrant because it exudes forms of nature. I look at natural phenomenon and try to imbibe their values in material form. They portray the play of life. Although my primary expression is stainless steel, I use a variety of other metals and layers of metallic colours on inner surfaces of light fixtures to add contrast. Stainless steel is a material that very cleverly blends into a space, and so I use colours as elements that become the highlight of the lights or lighting installations.
Your work shapes the feeling of home for many people – What is home to you yourself?
Home is where I feel I should belong theref;ore it should be about people inhabiting that state. In my case, comfort, ease and simplicity are crucial in an environment that belongs to me. Each one to themselves should be the deciding factor while addressing private spaces and a designer’s role is to understand that.