Lighting Spaces

UNDERSTANDING LIGHT BY SKETCHING A FRAME:

It was a pleasure working with Jitesh, who is an architect turned visual artist and lighting designer. He conducted a three day workshop on lighting spaces. I liked the approach of understanding light with its counterpart – shadow and starting with light and shadow sketches.

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Sketching was a great means to understand the flow of light in a space and looking out for a frame where natural light plays a dramatic role in a space. It definitely helped me understand how openings affect a space. The presentations given by Jitesh were highly inspiring to experiment with light as practice.

THE MAZE EXERCISE:

Another exercise to understand the formation of shadows because of physical obstruction of light was intriguing. The formation of a maze structure to observe light and shadows formed by changing various elements of the source light was helpful to learn about the effect of intensities of light in a space.

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PROTOTYPE MAKING (INDIVIDUAL PROJECT):

Project Brief:

For making a prototype of a luminaire, a space was to be chosen in the campus which was supposed to be lit. We were free to choose the source of light (natural or artificial) and also the position of the source (internal or external). The luminaire which was to be created, was supposed to be contextualized according to the space chosen. The reason for choosing the space and the design proposed should have been justified.

My Space:

I chose the corridor in front of the ‘Pepperslate’ office at N2 campus. My purpose behind choosing that corridor was to bring life to it and make it noticeable. That space seems like a dead space and hardly anyone knows about that place in the campus. My intention was to propose a luminare in that space which could possible attract people’s attention and compels them to walk through it.

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My Concept:

I was initially very excited about the space and wanted to make it interesting. I was thinking of using the natural light coming in from the room at the end of the corridor into this space. Later, I felt that the task was nearly impossible due to the time constraint (36 hours) and also due to the irregular direction of natural light coming through the windows.

I thus came up with the concept of covering the ceiling completely with some luminaire forms and other reflector spheres such that the lights coming out from the luminaires falls on to the reflectors and thus illuminates the whole space. I wanted to give the luminaire an interesting form such that there is a play of light and shadow in that space and a dramatic effect is obtained in the corridor. The light might as well fall outside the corridor which in turn can attract people. The form of the lighting itself was sufficient enough to make the space lively.

I thus came up with a form made up of conical shapes such that some of the cones are closed and the others open, some are fixed with a colored film and some with a reflecting film so that light can be illuminated in a playful manner.

The Work in Progress:

I started working on the concept and started making the cones with the help of various kinds of handcrafted sheets and catridge sheets. While making the cones for the first luminaires at night, I soon realized that the proposed concept was a little too much according to the time provided for completing the task.

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I felt disappointed because I knew that I won’t be able to achieve what I had thought of. The next day, I started building upon the luminaire with the cones I had. I had already prepared a wire structure to hold the paper cones. While working on the form, every time I felt that this is not what I had thought of. Don’t really know how the luminaire is going to turn out. In addition to the misery of my thoughts, I was further getting low because of the time the luminaire was taking to be built. At the beginning of the process, I really couldn’t picture what the form is going to look like. It was a complete state of disaster for me.

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My under confidence in my product was being fuelled by the completion of the other groups’ works. Just then when I was not really happy about what I was doing, I confronted Jitesh and Urvashi – the facilitators of this workshop. One thing that Jitesh told me then is something that is learning for me for life. He just said to me, “It is just an experiment, even if it won’t be what you have thought, it will turn out to be something. Don’t be scared of experimentation.” This point of time the fear of what my product might come out to be simply vanished. My feeling of disappointment was instantly turned into inspiration to work and finish what I have started.

I thus started working energetically, to see what the final form will turn out to be, to see what the result of my experiment is and to know what I have coincidentally achieved. After a little hard work of making cones and putting them all together, I did come up with a form. Different from what I had thought but still – interesting!

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I was happy with the experiment. Never thought that I would experience one of the biggest learnings of my life. I was really happy, not because of the form but because I went through and was happy about the tool of experimentation without worrying about the result.

One thing I realized while going through another presentation of Jitesh while I was working on my luminaire was that, it is not easy to work with light. It does require a lot of work and experimentation to achieve the exact effect that one is looking for. Even then, the energy might surprise you with its beauty in some or the other way which in turn might result in a change in the form.

I later, with the help of the electrician, fixed the luminaire in its place. My intention of giving life to that ‘Pepperslate’ corridor was indeed fulfilled to an extent. I still have that grudge and feeling that I could have done it better (the way I had thought – filling the ceiling with luminaires and reflectors) if I had some more time to work on it. But, there always is less time in design. The due dates are always one day early! 🙂

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Shilpi

The easiest way to recognize a cluster is that you enter a town and be greeted by countless forms and structures of one particular material. Although all the forms are different in structure but from your perspective – watching from the entrance of the town, the work seems monotonous. This monotony in the  material and appearance helps in pointing out the place as a cluster of that particular craft.

While standing at the gate of Shivarapatna, a village in the Malur Taluk of Kolar District in Karnataka, a similar sight of massive stone sculptures welcomed me and my friend Sree Lakshmi, and helped us confirm that we were standing at the right place – the land of stone sculpting, Shivarapatna.

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I have to admit that traveling to this town from Bangalore is not very easy. We took a bus from Majestic to Hoskote, from where we got a bus to Malur. From Malur a bus to Shivarapatna gate and then an auto to reach the entrance of the Shivarapatna village. The deserted Shivarapatna gate leads to dumbfounderment as there does not exist any trace of public commute! Indeed huge autos which I have termed as ‘item’ autos (because of the way it is decorated from the inside) do follow this route at intervals of 5-10 minutes. These autos can possibly accommodate 20 people at once and cost Rs. 10 per person. We got into one of these autos and reached the entrance of the Shivarapatna village from the Shivarapatna gate in 5 minutes. Although this route seemed difficult to follow, on our way back to Bangalore, we did discover an easier route. We took an auto from the entrance of the village until Malur bus station directly. From here, we got a bus to Bangalore, which goes until Majestic but we got down at Krishnaraj Puram Railway Station.

 We reached Shivarapatna in two hours of journey from Majestic, Bangalore and were struck with amazement to see the whole village working on black and white stones. There were Gods’ sculptures all over made in black and white soapstone (steatite) and granite. We entered the village and stopped at every house to gaze at the stone sculptures done by the artisans and talked to them.

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 I discovered that stone craft is a rich craft and artisans were happy shaping the stones their way. I learned the process of stone carving which is a combination of drawing on stone with red oxide solution and giving finesse to the stone with repeated action of drawing and sculpting. I also identified that the artisans there worked only on orders and produced sculptures as per the designs of the customers. The raw material is bought by various artisans from different places in Karnataka.

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 For getting the feel of the hardness of stone and to understand the difficulty level of stone carving, I tried my hand on it and remarked the softness of the stone which made it easy to carve. Carving required muscular strength to give the initial shape to the irregular shaped stone. The minute details and carvings is generally done by the females which demand less strength.

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Shivarapatna is also a cluster for metal casting. The lost-wax method is used here for making brass sculptures. Artisans though work here only on orders and do not keep ready made pieces. Me and my friend walked along the street on which the village is situated. One distinctive thing I observed was the use of bamboo to create screen like shelters for work.

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It was an amusing and lively experience to gaze at the omnipresent stone craft. I and Sree Lakshmi walked back till the village entrance and waited for another auto ride. Never had I thought that the approaching ride would be like flying in the air. I stood on the foot rest outside the auto and flew in the direction opposite to the direction of the journey. I was delighted to be there and feel the air gushing in my clothes and my body while I stood on the footrest and was overwhelmed about the fact that there was no seat for me inside the rickshaw which was preoccupied with 17 passengers and my friend just managed to fit in. As always the case is, the road back to home is smaller than getting out. We managed to reach back to Bangalore by 7:30 in the evening and headed back home.

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ALBATROSS…A feeling for my work towards them!

On visiting the terracotta craft cluster based in Marasandra village which is almost 15 kilometers from the NES Quarters Yelahanka, I for the first time confronted the artisans who have spent their entire lives working in clay. I was eyeing the entire village on foot and observed that every second house was involved in terracotta work. All of them worked hard to make clay idols of deities and other human figures which had a particular season of sale (mostly during festivals). Most of them also worked on wheels where clay was thrown on to be molded into a pot. 

I and two of my friends spent half a day with an aged potter who was working towards the fulfillment of an order of 600 plantation pots. The first thing that caught my attention the moment I saw him working was his physical form which was involved in the rigorous backbreaking work. Never had I seen a potter’s wheel which was hand drawn and never had I witnessed a 75 year old laboriously standing, throwing, applying momentum to the wheel and molding. The site was compassionate for the plight of the artisan. I with the help of my Kannadiga friend, tried to start a conversation with him making sure that his work is not caused any trouble. Our conversation started with momentary dialogues until the artisan was convinced and comfortable about the reason for our visit to his workplace. I was content to have the potter smiling and laughing with us by the end of our stay there. My conversations with the other potters and artisans in town also lead to the possibilities and reasons for the intervention that I intend to have.

 I questioned mainly about the range of products produced by the artisans, their target audience or market and the quantity of items created within 11 hours of laborious work every day (6a.m. to 5 p.m.). On my enquiry, I discovered that the products were mainly produced to fulfill orders placed by dealers from the cities (mainly Bangalore). The range of products was mostly limited to one or two types of plantation pots, piggy banks, coal stoves and God idols. Out of these, God idols were mainly sold during festival seasons like Diwali, Dusshera and Navratri. 

On questioning them about the non-innovation of products, they simply answered that the new products are not sold enough. The amount of time that is spent on doing the intricate and different style of work does not pay off because of less or no sale. One of the artisans, was greatly hopeless about the market for terracotta products. His opinion about the people who intended to intervene in this work was negative due to his past experiences. He felt that people come and go but never come back. He demanded long term development and was unhappy with short term earnings. 

I felt that my role as a designer can only be justified not by producing good designs using the crafts but in reality marketing the products and opening huge market opportunities and creating demands for the craftsmen. The terracotta pots have also got a competition against the cement pots. It is important to expose the advantages of the natural materials used in the handicraft industry which renders them more eco-friendly and non-toxic as compared to the other products. 

There are definitely a few artisans who have started developing contemporary products as a result of intervention but still, there exist a major percentage of craftsmen whose crafts are now endangered. Most of them have also started getting involved in other businesses like farming and construction. They work in terracotta only when they receive orders and during festivals. 

The visit and conversations with these craftsmen have burdened me with a larger responsibility and a greater role as a person who can create work and better opportunities for them. I do not wish to let their confidence down and make them believe that anybody who comes just comes and goes away and never comes back. Indeed I am a little scared right now but at the same time I know that the first step will lead to the next.

Bio Mimicry

I attended the talk on 10th Jan, 2014 which was on Bio Mimicry. The talk was by Tom Mckeag who is the founder and president of the Bio Dream Machine which is a nonprofit public benefit corporation organized for educational purposes and headquartered in San Rafael, California.

This talk explained what bio mimicry is and how can one learn various things from nature. As per the seminar, bio-mimicry is getting inspired by the bio-world and using the principles for coming up with design by using modern methods and technology.

While attending the seminar and knowing about how small observations from nature can lead to solutions of big problems in reality, I was strongly attracted towards this idea. The principle of sticking on to the walls by the lizards was used by humans to make equipment that could be easily stuck on glass for cleaning.

The ideas and designs shown in the seminar were overwhelming but it made me wonder that there are so many things around us to draw inspiration from. If I choose to get inspired by one thing, I think it will be great if I become specialized for that particular thing and I keep researching and developing more on that particular inspiration.

I got immensely interested in bio-mimicry but the thoughts that are keeping me away are that, I got inspired by handicrafts from which I am now aiming to develop solutions and articles and other stuff. This kind of work is also immensely interesting, Now, if I wish to get a hang of it, I need to stay with this inspiration for long and do a lot of work.

During the seminar, I was filled with the thoughts of how to draw boundaries to specialise in one thing before moving onto the next one. I was also thinking whether it is really important to have boundaries? If not, then how should I balance my choices? There are so many things in the world that I wish to do, every new thing is interesting and attracts me to work with it, but how do I collaborate everything?

The seminar made me wonder, if at all I can use handicrafts and nature together to create new designs? Can I really do both at the same time. I was thinking throughout that these are just two of the many things out there which are interesting and can be used to draw inspiration from. How should a human being balance himself? I still am trying to figure out the answer to this which the seminar has imbibed in me. Wish to work so much, but for now, I have to do one thing at a time.

http://biomimicry.net/