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Modern Interpretations of Indian Art in Architecture and Design

The three-letter word art encompasses a variety of emotions, history, and culture. Similarly, the architecture of any space speaks volumes about its heritage and aspirations. As quoted by one of the leading Indian architects Brinda Somaya, “A building should not only serve a functional purpose but also be socially and culturally relevant”. And, that stands true when one observes a glimpse of traditional Indian art in today’s modern architecture. Over the decades, Indian architecture has been a testament to India’s art and craft heritage. Right from temples to Stupas, palaces and more showcase the intricacies of Indian art in architecture. We can mark the reign of emperors, heroic tales, mythological stories and much more as a part of the architecture, which now serves as a resourceful site.

The Ebb and Flow Indian Art in Architecture Representation – Post-Colonisation  

Western taste and craft dictated post-colonization Indian architecture. The buildings featured Gothic, Victorian and Neo-classical elements. People considered Western architectural signs modern and progressive. The trend continued in the post-colonial era as India a newly independent nation was striving to revive its traditional art legacy. The new developments were all about transforming India with an industrialized vision.

As the initial euphoria of independence mellowed down, the growing realization of the need to build a cultural identity and incorporate the heritage of Indian art into architecture took over India. This paved the way for the blending of two distinct styles of art. The architects sought to incorporate modern principles with traditional beauty. Post-1970s, Indian architects began to feature traditional motifs and historical references. While the key point was to revive the traditional Indian art identity, they also emphasized the functionality of the designs. 

Architect Fariborz Sahba designed the Lotus Temple in Delhi, drawing inspiration from the lotus flower. The flower signifies purity and peace in Indian art culture. Apart from monumental buildings, residential design and architecture have also been exploring local and regional narratives, skills and traditional crafts to enhance the cultural bond.

Gradual Shift Towards Traditional Indian Art in Architecture – Examples.

The Dhokra community originated Dhokra Art, a metal art from West Bengal that they have practised for over 4000 years. Designers now give it a new look by utilizing it for contemporary purposes in residential designs. People regard it as one of the most prestigious heritages from the Harappan and Mohenjo-Daro civilizations.. The motifs generally revolve around Hindu gods, goddesses and figurines.

Another great example of Indian art in architecture and design is this residential decor wall adorned with Madhubani art. 

Madhubani Art – Originally practised in the Mithila region of Bihar, India, is a revered art form passed from generation to generation. As the ancient tale recounts, the art was first created at the wedding of Lord Ram and Goddess Sita as asked by the bride’s father, King Janak. Later on, they were made on freshly plastered mud walls. The traditional Indian art style has contributed significantly to putting the art of India on the global map. Right from association to SEWA(Self-employed Women’s Association) to showcasing the beauty exhibits held overseas and being included in UNESCO’s card collection. The art has made a mark. This image of a residential decor is a popular motif of Madhubani art called as “Tree of Life”. 

Similarly, Krushi Bhavan a government building in Odisha speaks volumes about modern interpretations of Indian art in architecture. Each brick, wall, and courtyard design showcases the art of Odisha. The colours and patterns of the brick were intentionally chosen to exhibit the Odisha Ikat style. There is an amalgamation of Dhokra and Pattachitra art motifs. Wherein they kept the agricultural theme of the building crafted metal pieces for the window and carved the bas-relief into laterite in the style of Odisha Pattachitra scroll paintings.    

Why are Architects Choosing Indian Art in Architecture

Inspiration from Tradition

The architecture and design are a reflection of the self or the ethos of the foundation. Emulating Indian art within architecture creates a link to the past heritage and builds a strong sense of identity. 

Moreover, the diverse and distinct range of Indian art forms broadens the horizons of creativity and innovations. Promoting Indian art styles instils a sense of ownership and also ignites a sense of pride amongst the community practising that art.  

Architecture is a legacy left behind for future generations to understand and experience the culture. Indian art plays an important role in crafting the distinct socio-cultural fabric of the nation. It signifies the origins, traditions and beliefs of the community.

Promotes Local Artisans 

The best way to stay authentic towards an art form is to leverage the inputs and skills of local artisans. They are the ones living and breathing the art form for generations. But due to industrialization and urbanization, their skills are overpowered by upcoming technologies. Such projects which incorporate Indian art in architecture, create employment opportunities. An estimate given by a Times of India article is that there are over 20 million artisans who practice over 3000 different traditional Indian art forms, but, the number is declining due to the cons of urbanisation. 

Using their expertise and skills will breathe new life into these art forms and also honour and support the lifestyle of local artisans.

Meanwhile, How Can You Learn Indian Art to Spruce Up Your House

Rooftop is the authentic platform to help you guide through the extensive fabric of traditional Indian art forms. Rooftop gives you an experience of the grandeur of traditional Indian art form through its events, online and offline workshops as well as structured Maestro course. 

This in turn shall help you learn any Indian art form that you wish to, there is a plethora of options to choose from. So change your walls into a mini exhibition and create designs to turn your decor pieces into masterpieces with Rooftop.   

Explore the Rooftop app to engage create and connect with the art community. The daily dose of art facts, quizzes, information and much more shall keep you inspired to start your journey with Indian art.

Here’s a glimpse of how our artist participants and app users integrated traditional Indian art forms in little ways to spruce up their space and add a touch of India’s vibrancy

Terracotta Flower vase adorning Warli art created by Dr Dipanwita Chatterjee
Pista Shell art with Pichwai painting created by Leena Mehta

To learn more about art forms and their benefits on our physical and mental health, download the Rooftop app from Google Play or App Store to stay updated on our upcoming art events and workshops. Stay tuned to rooftop blogs and follow us on @rooftop_app

By Sayali Parkar

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