Howard Roark is dead and “prime movers” are no longer the super heroes in design.
Howard Roark is dead and “prime movers” are no longer the super heroes in design. The individual is no longer the hero. Collaborations have become the alchemical art that transforms conflict into a common vision.
For Sabyasachi Paldas and Amit Krishn Gulati — both National Institute of Design graduates specialising in industrial design — working together was an obvious choice. More than 17 years later, they have a bouquet of projects in multiple domains: built spaces, product innovations, branding and master planning.
Collaborations, they say, act as vehicles of trust, where they mutually rely on the other’s skills. “Amit has the flair for drawing and sketching,” says Paldas. Gulati completes his sentence, “while Paldas is the contemplative, logical mind.” Working as co-founders of Incubis, they knew from the beginning that each could fill in for the other. Their willingness to take on risks and ask inane questions has won them clients. One was Numaligarh Refinery Limited, a petrochemicals company that distributed fuels through Bharat Petroleum pumps. “The brief was simple: make us a new petrol pump. But during our interactions, we began asking them the craziest of questions, like, ‘Why do attendants have to manually signal to a car every time they drive in, why not have lights to show which bay is available?’ What may have been micro questions became an engineering feat for the client, and today, their ‘energy stations’ in Kaziranga, Assam and elsewhere stand out for these differentiators,” says Gulati.
Their installation at T3 at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, of the copper discs and giant hand mudras was a collaboration of a different kind. US-based Landor Associates, along with Jaipur-based designer Ayush Kasliwal and Incubis, brought a global appeal with an Indian aesthetic to the concourse. “We had to get Landor on board for an international perspective and appropriate positioning. The mudras that we had planned were shared with the branding company Landor who forwarded the sketches to their offices around the world. What may be a seemingly harmless hand gesture in India, may just be offensive, say in France. Since the airport is a public space, we had to keep global sensitivities in mind. And Ayush was the only designer with gumption to say he’ll get the installation up, which was no mean task, given the scale,” says Gulati.