celebrating Indian creativity



Friday, October 5, 2012

Tradition vs. Technology

By Ar. Nikhil Juvekar

Ar. Nikhil Juvekar urges you – the fellow professional and the common man – to look closely beneath and through the layers that ensconce design thought and execution, and gear up for some effective action…

Often the term ‘modernism’ refers to distinguishing current progress from past; and it is common consideration that modernism can be achieved solely by rejecting tradition. A progressive model is ideal considering rapid growth, but it can certainly be achieved hand-in-glove with tradition.


In spite of the spotlight being on India, we crave to embrace the foreign and parade it with aplomb. The fascination to adopt the “west” has quite sporadically and emphatically killed the idea of originality, which is an inner phenomenon and cannot be discarded without being holistically explored. Setting standards is a must; but simply hunting the overseas may not offer the desirable.


According to me, designing a modern building or interiors doesn’t necessarily mean to be westernized. Rather, each building should be a landmark, a head-turn and not just a glass box. It should be contextual. Many designers shy away from traditional ways for fear of being called “Desi”. We see houses with imported furniture, hardware sourced straight from the market and following brands. But do we pause to think, how ancient Indian architects were able to create masterpieces without modernization? The accuracy and proportions are simply stunning.  Contemporary design has been largely misunderstood as foreign or imported designs for that matter. A modern client feels proud to fill up spaces with art, furniture etc from all around the world but India.  Interior Design is more about customizing a space and not only about following standards. Design according to me, should be flexible and free flowing and free from self restrictions, and that’s what I call “modern design”.


Despite the rootedness that Indians as a race possess, the only hitch, as I see it is over-dependency.   We have surrendered ourselves to machines and technology. Needless to say, this has eventually resulted in decreasing number of skilled labour.  Ancient tools have been replaced by modern computerized machines, which though have greatly helped in speeding up processes, have created a mould, which simply multiplies in various sizes and proportions sans ingenuity.  Our tendency to measure growth in terms of quantity and not quality, then seems to be our nemesis.


The want of being superior in technology has sucked us in the rat race where the finish line seems to be catastrophic. As a result, the origin of India has started to fade and now has no identity of her own. Indian resources and potential is rather preferred to be put to rest than to be discovered to the fullest. Indian tradition can be truly scenic and further crafted in a contemporary expression. If being rooted demands referencing and reflecting on the past, then it’s high time for a cultural embrace.   


Nikhil Juvekar is a Mumbai-based architect and heads an independent practice that helps observe, understand and unravel design intricacy challenged by human behavior in a constant endeavour to explore and engage with natural elements, which are further shaped in a contemporary expression. He can be reached at http://www.nikhiljuvekar.com


  1. Attention to detail is what its all about.

  2. It is beautiful how some of the innovative designs perfectly combine the traditional and the modern taking along our culture and customs and still keeping with the times.


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