Design Feature > Katran
Materials are given second lives in India everyday. Newspapers into peanut cones, old saris into quilts, jeans into storage bags, vegetable peels into compost. Sahil Bagga (College of Art, 2002, Politecnico di Milano) and Sarthak Sengupta (NIFT 2001, Politecnico di Milano) researched on farmers spinning left-over fabric strips (Katran in Hindi) from cloth mills into ropes for making Khatias (string beds). They developed the idea as part of their ‘Zero Kilometre Design Concept™’ to later create a collection of products named Katran.
Sarthak Sahil Design Co was founded in 2009. A multi-disciplinary practice, it works on furniture, products, graphics, brand consultancy, trend development and research, interiors and spatial design. Their portfolio has a mix of identities – the interiors seem to dwell on symbolism, the lamps are slightly kitsch and objects like the metal platter and jewellery have a different aesthetic altogether. But on the whole, the effort seems to do something that is grounded, crafted, local and Indian. Their collection, Katran, seems a coming together of thoughts towards that direction.
Sahil & Sarthak say: “Developed as part of the ‘Zero Kilometer Design™’ concept, the Katran Collection has been our effort to weave ethics, ethnic and ecology with the contemporary culture.”
The collection is simple and well-crafted. It would be interesting to see their version of a charpai (string bed), perhaps headboards for beds, blinds, even jewellery, using katran.
In conversation with Sahil and Sarthak.
Indian By Design: Sustainable seems to mean many things to many people. What does it mean to you?
Sahil & Sarthak: We try to design products which are as sustainable as possible, through out its products cycle, that is from the time of selecting or preparing the material, transportation, production and finally its disposal. The product has to be environmentally sustainable as well as socially sustainable.
Indian By Design: How did Katran come about? Did you start with the raw material or did the idea lead to the raw material?
Sahil & Sarthak: Katran chair was first made during an interior project for one of our clients, The interior project was based on ‘Zero Kilometer Design™’. We found the material during our research, and it took us more than an year to customize it to our needs.
Indian By Design: What is the process of making products with Katran?
Sahil & Sarthak: After the designs are finalized, the structure is the first step, and then we decide the color pallate and patterns, Organize and sort the material, and then the weaving takes place.
Indian By Design: Your work other than Katran has a varied aesthetic. Did Katran change the way you worked?
Sahil & Sarthak: The Katran products are a part of our Brand philosophy, which Ethics, Ethnicity and Ecology. When we work with other materials and skills, it remains a constant in our design approach.
Indian By Design: Did it change the way others perceived your work?
Sahil & Sarthak: Yes, it is one of our most popular collection in India and abroad. By this collection people have recognized our efforts of using sustainable materials and processes.
Indian By Design: What are you working on currently?
Sahil & Sarthak: Other than new products using some untouched materials and skills, we are exploring new techniques and products with katran. We have recently finished designing and fabricating, products, furniture and lights for Neemrana Hotels latest property Tijara, at Alwar, Rajasthan. We are working on some interesting products for an upcoming project, details of the same have to wait.
<There are little gems hidden away in their portfolio like the Longpi wall pockets and Magia Nera work, the wool hanger cover and the Munjh grass shoe cleaner. Do discover those on their website and keep in touch with their work on Facebook.
Via Purvi Sanghvi
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