Rajshree Pathy rues the fact that Indians do not focus on creativity. “India has so many big information technology firms but no Steve Jobs. We are focused on creating people who can do jobs rather than who can create jobs," Pathy, the founder of the India Design Forum (IDF), says over the phone from London.

It is this creativity that Pathy wants to bring back in focus through Chakraview, IDF’s installation for the inaugural edition of the London Design Biennale, on till 27 September at Somerset House in London. The event features about 40 installations from leading museums and design organizations in the world on the theme of Utopia By Design.

Chakraview is designed by New Delhi-based scenographer Sumant Jayakrishnan, and also features the works of design strategist Avinash Kumar, artist Hanif Kureshi and graphic designer Rutva Trivedi. It includes fabrics made by Aadyam—the Aditya Birla Group’s weavers’ initiative—that brings together India’s unique cultural heritage, rural crafts and innovation.

The elements used in Chakraview are chakra (wheel) formations representing the seven chakras (or energy points in the body), suspended from the ceiling, with the highly reflective floor representing the inner quest for utopia.

On adjacent walls, there are circular hoops with graphic typography by Kureshi, a visual expression of Indian streets. The inner space has an audiovisual by Kumar that chronicles the country’s progression from an agricultural economy to a technologically advanced industrial economy with a strong Indian identity.

“It was important for us to get into the depths of the idea of utopia in India," says Pathy. “It took more than six months to conceptualize the idea, convince everyone and bring it to shape." Several projects were commissioned before Chakraview was finalized.

The multiple Indian utopias showcased in Chakraview articulate the intersections between ancient myth and modern design innovations.

“The chakras depict India’s progression through the ages, its technological advances keeping with its fundamental beliefs. Our visions of utopia are simultaneously spiritual, progressive, self-sufficient and layered," Pathy says. “Chakraview also captures the sociological conversations around Indian utopias to illustrate both the continuities and discrepancies between India’s past and future, myth and reality."

The installation is an acknowledgement of India’s design movement. “It is the first time India is represented at a global design forum. It announces our arrival on the world stage," says Pathy, who was born and raised in Coimbatore.

The IDF was created in 2012 as a platform to explore and educate others about the power of design. It has had a long-standing partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Union ministry of commerce and industry.

More than anything else, Pathy, who was awarded the Padma Shri in 2013 for her contribution to trade and industry, hopes the project will help bring about greater awareness of Indian design.

“The next phase of growth will come from design- and innovation-led industries. And we all need to be ready for that," she says.

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