Whether you’re a book lover, or a design aficionado, you’ve probably craved an Anand Prakash product.
The moment we decided to create a curated Book Lover’s box we knew we had to collaborate with Anand Prakash. His design aesthetic stands apart from the crowd, and has almost become synonymous with quality across the board- a fact that is reflected not just in his products, but also in the kind of service you get, the packaging and other paraphernalia around the product. It is rare for a product to be so sought after and so exclusive at the same time, and Anand’s designs achieve exactly that.
Here he is, talking about his own experiences and sharing the story of his journey from a one-man design shop to one of India’s most beloved design brands.
Could you tell us a little bit about Anand Prakash designs, the kind of women who love your products, and the team that works with you in designing and creating these products?
I have always had an artist’s sensibility, and this was honed further during my studies at Wynberg Allen School in Mussoorie. But I didn’t intend for art and design to be my calling. I enrolled in a college in Delhi for education after school and was all prepared to start a conventional career. But in 1999, I finally decided that my passion lay in design and took the leap.
I literally started from scratch- with a piece of paper and a pencil – to design my earliest products, made on recycled paper. After eight years, I expanded into metalcraft, which was the logical next step since my family has a metal business. Over time, as the business grew, I kept expanding into different product lines. Today we have more than 750 products in our repertoire, export to many countries, and even retail from our own stores in Mumbai.
A team of 2-3 people is responsible for the designing of these products, all working within my overall design direction. In all, including the retail arm, we are a team of 50 to 60 employees now, many of whom are people I’ve known for many years.
Through this entire journey, the one thing that has remained constant is our commitment to quality. For instance, there is one step of the manufacturing process for which I send every single product to another city. It is interesting that Make in India has suddenly become en vogue since every single part of our process has always been done in India even if it comes at a higher cost than manufacturing elsewhere.
Since we are including your product in our Booklovers box, we’d love to know some of your favourite books.
Some of my favourite books are those that have stayed with me over the ages. I enjoy the Classics, going back to the works of Shakespeare or a Wuthering Heights, over something more modern. Of late, a lot of my reading has been business related- whether it the latest Harvard Business Reviews, or books about design . I love books which experiment with conventional form in their visuals- three-dimensional books, books with cut-outs, book with unusual layouts or typographies. All of these inspire me.
I’d love to hear a bit more about these bookmarks -the philosophy behind them and how you went about designing them. I would also like to know a bit more about your design philosophy.
These bookmarks arose out of my love for reading. I truly believe that they can help start a reading habit, and often gift them to young children in schools.
My design inspirations can come from anywhere. I recently visited the Taj Mahal, and was driven by the need to represent more than just its basic form. There is so much beauty in the Taj Mahal but you often find the same few images repeated. My latest range has been inspired by some of the pictures I took of the intricate work there.
With every new range, I feel inspired to weave in a story with the products, and this time the story is about the distinct and exquisite workmanship at the Taj Mahal. Often, I share this story with my customers in the form of material they will find inside the box.
Do you have any stories of customers using these bookmarks in other unusual ways?
Ohh so many! A customer from Turkey once wrote back and told me how she is using my bookmark as a funky pendant. Another from the US sent me an image of the bookmark as a car ornamentation on the rear view of his Mustang. In fact, so many of the customers suggested that this makes a great car ornament that now we have started a separate line for just that.
Others use these bookmarks as charms, as part of their desk decor or as a personal accessory. This design lends itself to many interpretations.
What’s the best way to preserve them and ensure they remain pristine?
These bookmarks should last you for ever- even the lacquer should last for four or five years easily. All you need to do is keep them away from moisture and rain so that they retain their shine.
Lastly, this is a great time for entrepreneurs, designers and small and medium sized businesses in India. Who are some of the current artists/designers/creators whose work and sensibility you enjoy?
It is true that there are a lot of new entrepreneurs and designers in the market today. But quite a few of them are imitations of each others without an eye towards building a legacy. I firmly believe that to be a sustainable brand, your design should be distinct, your quality impeccable, and that you should continuously innovate.
When I started work, one of the designers that inspired me was Michael Aram. Among today’s current crop of designer/entrepreneurs, I like the timeless aesthetic of Nappa Dori.