State of Design is nearly upon us! As you know I will be attempting some kind of design festival attendance world record, and will be posting daily festival coverage here (most likely multiple posts each day actually) for the next 2 weeks! In addition to reviewing and recommending design festival events, I also have some fabulous interviews lined up with some of the festival’s very special international and local guests!
But of all the events, openings and meetings I’m preparing for, today’s interview is perhaps the most exciting! I cannot quite believe that Nipa Doshi had time to squeeze this is… but I feel extremely lucky to be sharing it with you. Ms Doshi is perhaps the famous-est designer I have ever interviewed! I am quite star-struck.
If you are not familiar with the incredible work of London design studio Doshi Levien, get ready to be enthused! Nipa and partner Jonathan Levien have amassed the most vibrant, varied body of work since they first burst onto the UK design scene in 2000. Their prolific output spans furniture design, product design, interaction design and even shoe design! Clients include Intel, Nokia, Tefal, Moroso, and John Lobb.
Read on for an insight into the wonderful, colourful world of Nipa Doshi!
Myth and Material installation in New York – here Doshi Levien reference India’s multilayered modern culture, emphasising how opposites coexist harmoniously – sensuousness with the spiritual and austere; functionality with creativity and imagination.
Tell us a little about your background – what path led you to setting up Doshi Levien, and how has the business evolved since you first set up your studio with Jonathan in 2000?
I grew up in India, in a very diverse environment full of contradictions, where seeming opposites co-existed, a world full of creative possibilities. I studied design at NID Ahmedabad followed by a Master’s degree at the Royal College of Art in London, where I met Jonathan. After graduating we both worked for other design studios, but after 3 years we decided to be masters of our own destiny. We gave up our jobs, got married and set up Doshi Levien.
We started out designing tableware and cutlery for Habitat in London thanks to Tom Dixon who championed young designers. We have worked on a very diverse range of projects and immersed ourselves in the world associated with curiosity and the aim to learn without fear of failure. This has earned our studio a reputation where clients come to us because they want something different.
Your work is extremely varied – from installation design to furniture design, product design, interaction design and even shoe design! What have been some of your favourite or most memorable projects?
I don’t see how furniture design is so different from shoe design or interaction design. They are all products and objects we use on a daily basis. In interaction design you are interacting with virtual products! We never set out defining our creativity in terms of what we are designing. We spend a lot of time doing research before we embark on any design project and we have enjoyed each one. Some were harder than others due to the steep learning curve, but that made them even more challenging and fun!
Which designers, artists or creative people do you admire?
Frida Kahlo, Shadi Ghadirian, Bharat Sikka, anonymous street artists in India, set painters, unsung, untrained designers who have created most of the products I love and use everyday, Charles and Ray Eames, Cristobal Balenciaga…there are too many.
What does a typical day at work involve for you?
A lot of thinking, circling around a project to find the right way in, dreaming, sketching, answering press interviews, and inevitably some business related admin too (which I wish I never had to do).
What would be your dream creative project?
Design a house, be involved in an urban planning project for a city and a wellbeing spa.
What are you looking forward to?
To becoming the Minister of Culture in India!
Thanks so much to Nipa for her time with this interview!