Founder and creative director of London-based product design studio, Tiipoi, Spandana Gopal reinterprets the gems of daily life in India through modern design
How did Tiipoi come about?
SG: I always felt something was amiss in the perception of Indian design and the concept of ‘Indian-ness’. I wanted to share internationally a truer contemporary design typology inspired by simplistic and utilitarian forms of daily life in the Indian household that are rooted in generations-old craft techniques and materiality. Tiipoi was born in 2014 out of my musings about wanting these objects in my life. I wanted to use them, and for them to occupy a place in my daily life.
What shapes the concept of ‘Indian-ness’ today?
SG: I don’t know if Indian-ness is a thing that can be identified or seen or drawn or designed. I think it’s an attitude or a thought or a feeling. It’s like being able to respond to a joke or enjoy a poem or a song. I feel the more we try to distill it the more it escapes us. For me, if someone who is not of Indian origin uses a Tiipoi product in a way that is quite close how it was intended – I’d say that was quite Indian, and the Indian-ness has had its effect in that moment.
How do you tackle the entrepreneurial challenges along the way?
SG: It’s challenging to run a business between London and Bangalore. You have to be able to code-switch between different modes of operation – everything from translation of a drawing, email etiquette, ‘yes’ meaning ‘not really’ or even ‘no’ (but being well-intentioned not wanting to disappoint), to festivals and puja holidays in India, to just basic semantics of language and cultural nuances being so different. But, I think this space in the middle where all these negotiations appear is really beautiful.