Mumbai’s burgeoning design scene has been gaining momentum in the past few years with individual designers and studios making their presence known through public projects, restaurant architecture and retail formats. At the end of March, it all came together at the first edition of Design Fabric Festival, curated by Sanket Avlani. The designer is known for founding Taxi Fabric, an organization that collaborates with textile designers to transform the interiors of old black-and-yellow cabs. “It’s time to build the momentum for bringing design into mainstream conversation, as a significant contributor to culture,” he says. Avlani’s vision was to turn this event into India’s most valuable design festival and the overarching theme at the event was “Culture makes Design; Design makes Culture.”DDF’s impressive lineup included Christoph Niemann, whose illustrations frequently grace The New Yorker covers; Scott Schuman, of the fashion blog The Sartorialist; ad-man V. Sunil; and Brooklyn-based graphic designer Adam J. Kurtz. The festival took place at Famous Studios—an institution that has been part of Mumbai’s filmmaking and advertising history. Discussions ranged from the importance of personal projects to how political discourse inspires artwork to how design has created some of India’s strongest brands.
The event evoked a sense of community among the city’s students, freelance artists, and working professionals who came together in this format for the first time. Having intellectual discussions with some of the world’s most influential designers in their own city resulted a powerful experience for this audience. Avlani and his team created an extraordinary first edition of the festival, with a confidence and innovation that has started a larger dialogue about design in a country where the discipline is still fairly mysterious to the larger population. Here, our ten favorite moments from the celebration.