February 5, 2016

Smriti: Art from the Piramal Collection by Kahani Designworks

by Pratika Yashaswi

Photograph © Aditya Palsule/Kahani Designworks, 2015

In Indian philosophy, “smriti” refers to a body of knowledge that is remembered and passed on from generation to generation, kept alive in memory and practice by teachers and students of a subject.

Developed by Kahani DesignworksSmriti is a compendium of works of art in the collection of the Piramal Art Foundation, one of the prominent collections of 19th and 20th century art from India. Printed on archival paper and bound for durability, it is intended as a free resource for educational institutions, scholars, art professionals and art lovers, highlighting major movements, personalities and ideas that have shaped art practice in India.

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When given the massive task of presenting 300 years worth of Indian Art History, Kahani created an information architecture that links sections of the book through graphics and typography. In spite of the magnitude of the content, the 900-page book manages to accomplish the formidable task of retaining a visually relaxing white cube gallery-like experience even as it supplies comprehensively indexed notes, highlights, and colour coded signposts; making the book accessible to enthusiast and scholar alike.

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A graceful piece of work in itself, the design of the book caters to distinct reading experiences: photographs of the art are clearly composed on individual pages, with spacious margins that highlight the work. Every chapter carries not just scholarly text, but also letters, notes and sketches by artists, ephemera from exhibitions and exchanges between peers. In this way, the book itself becomes an enduring keeper of memory, a snapshot of the relationships that comprised the 20th century art world.

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A version of this article was published in Kyoorius 28.

SMRITI was an In-book winner at the 2015 Kyoorius Design Awards for Complete Books. Have a look at all the In-book and Blue Elephant winners here.

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