Photography: Courtesy Sahil & Sarthak, Zoya
Product and furniture designers, Sahil Bagga and Sarthak Sengupta redefine India’s conventional auto rickshaws as socio-cultural insignia…
The young designer duo has fabricated an auto rickshaw (a popular mode of public transport across India) installation for Park by Zone Hotel in Jaipur and its upcoming branch in Coimbatore.
The brief given to them was precise: The auto rickshaw, to be installed in the main lobby of the hotels, besides being a photo-op, should forge a social connect between guests and the hotel.
Responding to the innate mass-appeal of this Indian conventional transport vehicle, informs Sarthak, they decided to mount a movable installation that were embellished with craft items, colours and graphics of the respective city. These autos could also be used as mini food vans or hotel gift shops,” he conitnues.
Elaborating on the process, Sahil and Sarthak first bought an old auto rickshaw, had the somewhat-dilapidated vehicle repaired and repainted; and its original hood replaced by an outdoor awning material. Enamel paint then helped adorn the main body and fill in the decorative details. Bright shades of orange, blue and pink, with occasional yellows or greens lent the final exhibit an arresting aura.
Regional traditions, cuisine, architecture and people of Jaipur and Coimbatore inform the make-up and define the two distinct entities. A cut-out of Jaipur’s iconic Hawa Mahal and a motif representing Tamil Nadu’s popular folk dance, Kaman Pandigai, besides other graphics and elementary doodles associated with the two cities, are the symbolic elements crafted out of wood, metal or fabric, or simply redesigned and printed on vinyl sheets. While the driver’s seat is left largely untouched, the passenger seat is used to create storage space. At the back of the rickshaw, a pull-down shelf serves for display.
While the auto-rickshaw has on several earlier occasions been used as a symbolic regional motif, this installation seems to draw attention to the versatility of the vehicle itself!