Kaushik Narayan Ramanathan

Kaushik Narayan Ramanathan

What defines you?

My experiences : good and the not so good ones. Love for simplicity and dignity of labour... I’m empathetic, romantic, I’m an idealist, a dreamer. I love nature, stories, beautiful handmade objects, mechanical machines.

What informs and inspires your practice?

People, stories, nature, music. Observing, learning, understanding - thoughtful passionate skilled people at work. I’m an admirer often of anonymously designed objects. Cobblers to Architects. Nature reminding me that all things are connected. Humanity seeks self-sufficiency whilst nature demands relationships. As Ralph Waldo Emerson says, 'Men admire the man who can organize their wishes and thoughts in stone and wood and steel and brass.'

“Design to me means being thoughtful and then making innocent the experience for others.”

How has your sensibility and craft evolved through the years?

Design to me means being thoughtful and then making innocent the experience for others. Design becoming visible only by its function and leaving aesthetic as a means rather than the end in itself. First figuring out if design is the answer or some other link in the process needs to be considered. Marinating /refining / distilling the Design Brief and working with the constraints. Attention to detail. A better understanding of materials and processes. For me, design is the simple part—good detailing and execution is the key.

What are some of the projects that have helped shape you and contributed to your design journey in important ways?

My Titan years / a forward thinking boss / several amazing teachers & mentors. Collaborative projects with other professional team’s scientists/ engineers / artists / graphic designers/ architects / work with NGOs / self-help groups. Working on projects that I knew nothing about before I began.I learnt a lot and it made me grow as an individual.

“Art is self-expression. Design is problem solving.”

What is the role that design plays in the development of a country, and how far have we gotten with it?

Design plays a crucial role. We haven’t made much of a dent. Design has become a marketing sales tool rather than a problem solving one. We see it often today as a political tool. New highways / bridges / education institutes....There are 2 parts to this. The thinking / planning / organization / design / implementation / follow through. The other is the actual making execution. Both have to be done in thoroughness. Design has still to be understood as this complete process. We are far from it. We need to make this part of our growing up and learning in schools and professional education. So it becomes an intrinsic part of our psyche human spirit. So we understand it / act on it and demand it Communication: health / sanitation / forms in various offices Public services: bus stops / markets / crematoriums / schools / hospitals / pavements.... signage / Govt / beauracracy /corporates / need to set themselves hard to achieve tenants of governance and businesses and strive to achieve them.

This is a time of great transformation in art and design—the mediums are blurring, the disciplines are merging and sustainability seems to be the common connector. Your views.

Art is self-expression. Design is problem solving. There is a fine line and they do overlap. Art must and will bring emotional response and that’s its soul So should design ....but that’s not its only purpose. Design has multiple functions and an important function being aesthetic but it can’t and shouldn’t be the only one. Mediums blurring / disciplines merging is a good thing but needs to be done with caution and responsibility. We need more depth understanding in the way we do things and sometimes question “doing” in itself. Fashion statements / globalization /mediocrity / PR has become synonymous for both. Sustainability should not be the buzz word but the real connector.

Text Soumya Mukerji