In a design space cluttered with rich renditions of history and loaded with traditions and motifs (more often than not extraneous), Tiipoi is refreshing. At this accessories label and design studio designs are stripped of all unnecessary layers to reveal simple and honest products that are an integral part of Indian cultural fabric. There is kitchenware, serveware and textiles in high-quality copper, brass, and cotton, sourced from all over India and made at small workshops or by independent craftsmen and makers. Since its launch in 2014 at the London Design Festival, Tiipoi has been around the world. Here we caught up designer and creative director Spandana Gopal to talk India, design and the creative pursuit.
Was creativity a part of your childhood?
Being creative definitely was. But it wasn't structured. I’d just make weird things or do my own science experiments. I liked art materials but I also loved being outside, or in the garden. [As a child] I knew I wanted to do something creative but it was always either around making art or nature related. I liked how things worked. I had lots of questions about the universe. I got really excited about astronomy. I had an obsession about whales. In a way, these things inspired me to always create so I continually made things—paintings and small sculptures. I started taking photos much later.
Can you describe your path to what you’re doing right now?
I don’t think of myself as a designer in a conventional sense. I’ve had the studio for about 3 years now; I think it was incidental to a thought, or perhaps a question I had. The question was very much about the relationship between India and the rest of the world. I guess I felt the most obvious and interesting way for me to explore this would be to create objects that could tell this story. I was just interested in speaking of a parallel or a counter narrative to the usual nostalgia that everything seemed to be drowning in.
Why did Tiipoi come into existence?
Tiipoi is now three years old, and I wanted to address the way Indian objects were received by a Western audience. With all the time I spent in London I felt that it was time another window to India was opened, one that spoke of the common sense attitude to consumption, zero-waste and also how innovation could happen via the lack of something, rather than an excess. I felt that all this was part of the fabric of daily life in India, and the household. It was like thinking of what Muji did for the Japanese way of life, speaking simply.