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In conversation with Ayush Kasliwal

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Designer Ayush Kasliwal tells us how an appreciation of traditional craftsmanship has instilled a deep sense of respect for the handmade

Designer Ayush Kasliwal’s brand AnanTaya and AKFD are a result of his explorations in the product design space, after passing out of Ahmedabad’s National Institute of Design. Based in Jaipur, his work reflects a contemporary take on the legacy of skilled craftsmenship that is so abundant in India. We spoke to Ayush about his discovery of design as a profession in his younger years and the focus on traditional craftsmenship in his work.

What is the earliest memory of being aware of what design meant in your life?
It was when I saw paper models of homes at an architect’s office. I was at a boarding school, and I went to visit the home of a classmate over the weekend. I saw the models made by his dad, an architect. I had seen doll houses earlier but it was for the first time that I figured that I could make them too. The first models prompted me to think of space, and plan it, and then add small bits of furniture and paint; it was more like play.

What is the one thing that one can always find on your work desk?
My red moleskine diary, I am never without it.

Why did traditional crafts draw you in so intensely at the start of your career?
The incredible capability of the hand to manipulate materials, and the elegance of handling things simply, but in a very sophisticated way is what has drawn me to our traditional crafts. My education as a designer, in NID, Ahmedabad, gave a wide exposure to the crafts of our country and instilled a great respect for the handmade . With teachers like Ashok Chatterjee and M.P Ranjan, who have worked extensively with crafts and craftspeople , my working with the crafts was a natural extension of my education.

A constant source of inspiration for you?

A portrait of Ayush Kasliwal

Designer Ayush Kasliwal.

History, and culture never cease to inspire. Seeing how things have been done, and how they have been interpreted in the past allows one to springboard into the future ... I believe that we, in India, have a phenomenal history, and need to establish a continuum between the past and the future, instead if reinventing it again and again. AnanTaya, to a large extent is involved in that.

Can you share what you are currently working on?
Couple of things simultaneously...finishing touches to Hotel Narendra Bhawan in Bikaner, developing a range of easy garments using Khadi for a fashion show,  the interiors and furniture for a 40,000 sq ft home in Dharamsthala close to Mangalore, designing 2nd edition of Rajasthan Heritage week,  developing lights for our new in-house lighting range named 'BRIGHT', 'Handmade In Rajasthan' Logo Design for the Govt of Rajasthan and Medusa Mask for my 11 year old daughter...

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