unliked – the UNLIKE DESIGN CO. blog

new products at salone satellite 2014

Posted in 1, Designed, indiandesign by unliked on May 19, 2014


Last month at the Salone Satellite 2014 in Milan, we showcased our new furniture and accessories.

The Milan furniture fair is the largest of its kind in the world. Come April and the entire city celebrates its love for design through events, exhibitions, launches and shows. At the heart of this activity is the Salone Del Mobile trade fair that spreads across the Rho Fiera grounds, a complex designed by the Italian architect Massimiliano Fuksas. Within this mega fairground, the Salone Satellite exhibition takes up a portion of Halls 13 and 15 in an area large enough to park two Boeings.

Founded and curated by Marva Griffin Wilshire (We think her interview here is a great introduction) since 1998, the Salone Satellite brings together almost 700 young designers below the age of 35 from proposals that are examined and evaluated by a prestigious Selection Committee drawn from a pool of international professionals from the world of design, architecture and media. 

The focus of the Salone Satellite is to connect young designers with the big guns of manufacturing. Designers showcase their design prototypes with the objective of signing design contracts with a now almost global list of brands and manufacturers. Extensive press and media reports on these prototypes is only natural and an added benefit.

We received our letter of confirmation in November last year and designed and developed these product prototypes to be launched at the fair in April. Focusing more on furniture complements and accessories, our work looks at ‘functional decoration’ – a balance of utility coupled with the pleasure of its visual and emotional ownership.


Unlike-Design-Co_AMMO_wall-organiser_1 Unlike-Design-Co_AMMO_wall-organiser_2

As a holder of stationery or as an object of decoration, AMMO provides the freedom to decide how and where to use it. Handcrafted in hand rubbed leather, walnut wood and turned eucalyptus wood.



MARGIN is a colour reversible side table in two colored leather that can be flatpacked and assembled easily. Made of plywood and clad in leather. 




KVIKK is a modular wall unit consisting of a mirror, shelf and hooks. Made of ash wood and aluminium, it allows for quick installation with the help of only two screws. The shelf, hooks and mirror slide and lock into the slotted wooden block. A handy assistant while entering or leaving the house.



The HOMETOWN lamp is inspired by the decorated cycle rickshaws from the old city of Banaras. Hand embossed by the same rickshaw craftsman in aluminium, the embossing creates an interesting visual texture even on the inside.




Using only wood and decoratively knotted natural fibre rope, the reversible TEJA frame uses a rope fastening method to do away with cold and un-emotional hardware. No hinges, clasps, wire or hooks. An attempt to return to a sense of functional romanticism. 



Designed in accordance with our approach to decorative function, the SOMEWHAT mirror is handcrafted in leather and offers the additional function of an incorporated shelf.



Adding to the function of a mirror, the ALSO mirror is handmade in leather and includes an inbuilt anodised aluminium hook. 




The SLOT shelf is cut from a single piece of MDF in a way that each piece slots into itself to form a wall shelf.

Delhi, though vast and very resourceful, is not an easy city for a designer to make prototypes to exact and intended specifications. Add a strict deadline, and you’re headed to almost certain disappointment. Within these situations, it is a pleasure to be able to work with Cuir Inde (the manufacturing arm of designer Parminder Pal Singh), BeeHive (the workshop and studio of designer Pankaj Narain) and The New Black Design Studio (by designer and dear friend Rohit Kumar). Them, we thank.

All Photographs © Unlike Design Co.



go rubberband

Posted in indiandesign, Spotted, Web by unliked on April 28, 2014



Boosting our much needed sense of national design pride this month, Indian design brand Rubberband expands its retail wings to Colette in Paris, The Lollipop Shop at London, the Cooper Hewitt Shop at New York and several locations in Switzerland. In focus is Rubberband’s collaboration with graphic artist Anthony Burrill – a set of notebooks in signature Rubberband style complemented with typographic messages by Anthony Burrill. If you haven’t switched to Rubberband yet, now would be a great time to start. #doeverythingyoulove

All photographs courtesy Rubberband and © Rubberband Products

at salone satellite 2014

Posted in 1 by unliked on March 28, 2014


A very welcome email in November last year announced our selection for the Salone Satellite 2014, a part of the Salone Del Mobile in Milan. The Satellite is now in its 17th year and brings together global designers and studios under the age of 35 to present their ideas and prototypes to the world’s best furniture manufacturers and brands, the visiting trade and of course consumers and the general public. So from April 08 to 13, we shall be at Hall 13/15 of the Milan Furniture Fair aka Salone Del Mobile presenting our new furniture and accessories at Stand C4.

Follow our updates from the fair on instagram (@generalaesthetic and @lvnya_), on facebook, twitter and of course we shall post a string of pictures on the blog after the after.

TOWITHFROM – significant little things

Posted in 1, towithfrom, Web by unliked on March 17, 2014


TOWITHFROM – our webstore long-in-waiting, has been online for a bit now. We call it a shop of significant little things – things similar to those we ourselves have found, discovered, loved and collected in zillions of boxes that share an ever reducing space with us.

The Japanese have a term for it – Zakka, which translates as ‘many-things’. Objects that exude a strong yet soft, cultural character and enhance personal lives and environments through their presence, and possession. A nostalgia of sorts. We could maybe describe it on a parallel with joys such as stamp, shell or coin collecting, the excitement of flea markets and thrift stores or even a profession such as archaeology.





An important line of products we are developing at TOWITHFROM are the ‘Made of India’ range. We design and develop these together with Indian craftspeople and they feature their own special TOWITHFROM label – a sign that the product carries a flavour of India that we would like to portray in signature TWF style.





As of now, shipping within India is free for products priced above INR 700 and INR 50 otherwise. As an introductory offer, we include a free two-colour 2014 calendar with all purchases. Click here to visit the TOWITHFROM store.

For regular updates, like the TOWITHFROM Facebook page or follow us on Twitter.

the center of corbusier’s chandigarh

Posted in 1 by unliked on November 30, 2013



For a country that’s still grappling with the appropriate behavioral protocol towards design and architecture (art can wait), its a pleasure to know of the well preserved existence of the Le Corbusier Centre in Chandigarh. This shy, almost introvert structure served as the office of Corbusier and his team as they conceived the rest of the city. It is the studio, the brain, the center.



This is a picture of a picture of early Chandigarh. Corbusier mentioned sunlight, space and greenery as three important human rights that architecture must grant to its inhabitants. This is a beautiful thought in itself, for it speaks of what architecture does and not of what it is.





The old fireplace, the brick flooring, the vast collection of chair and desk prototypes all exude an aura of exciting times in Chandigarh’s history, maybe the best days of all. Over the fireplace is a picture of one of Chandigarh’s most interesting structures. Corbusier called it the Tower of Shadows – a building he constructed to study the sunlight and from it, the height of windows, the width of rooms and the orientation of the city itself.





Corbusier’s writings mention ideas that are seemingly outrageous at times, yet having spent time with them, one realises that they are the disciples of a thought process that promised a solution to the chaos we now inhabit. And of course there have been many dreamers and many ideas and such is the world.




“The city of Chandigarh is planned to human scale. It puts in touch with the infinite cosmos and nature. It provides us with places and buildings for all human activities in which the citizens can live a full and harmonious life. Here the radiance of nature and heart are within our reach.” – Extract from the Edict of Chandigarh (Le Corbusier)

All Photographs © Unlike Design Co.

The Le Corbusier Centre is open weekdays 10.00am to 06.00pm. The address is: Le Corbusier Centre, Old Architects Office Building, Sector 19B, Chandigarh 160019, India | Telephone: +91 172 2777077

the silly brilliance of shisa kanko

Posted in 1, Watched by unliked on October 21, 2013



By chance or deliberation, its kind of exciting to be either at the front or the very end of a Japanese train. Most have large windows allowing luxurious views of the approaching or receding railway landscape. Finding ourselves at the absolute front of the Hida Wide View express from Nagoya to Takayama one afternoon, we had an interesting view of the train drivers and the scenery passing by. But immaculate perfectionists as they usually are, it was quite intriguing to see them perform strange pointing gestures accompanied with loud recitations.



Throughout our extensive train travel from Hokkaido in the North to Okinawa’s monorail far down south, they all seemed to be doing the same thing – pointing to and speaking out something, drivers and conductors alike. Even when operating the train alone, the singular train driver would point to something on the train dashboard or the track and speak out aloud to herself.

It was only when I found the time back in India did I get down to figuring out what this was. Its called Shisa Kanko – an occupational safety and error prevention method followed by Japanese industry, and of course most visibly by the Japan Rail system.

An article by Alice Gordenker in The Japan Times explains it sufficiently. Here’s an excerpt:

“Japanese railway employees have been using this technique for more than 100 years, but the exact origin is a little unclear. One story traces it to the early 1900s and a steam-train engineer named Yasoichi Hori, who was supposedly starting to lose his sight. Worried that he’d go through a signal by mistake, Hori began to call out the signal status to the fireman riding with him. The fireman would confirm it by calling back. An observer decided this was an excellent way of reducing error, and by 1913 it was encoded in a railway manual as kanko oto (“call and response”). The pointing came later, probably after 1925.

To give an example with English calls, let’s say your task is to make sure a valve is open. You look directly at the valve and confirm it’s open. You call out in a clear voice, “Valve open!” Then, still looking at the valve, you draw your right hand back, point to the valve in an exaggerated way and call out, “OK!” The theory is that hearing your own voice, and engaging the muscles of the mouth and arm, stimulates your brain so you’re more alert.”

Here is a video of the two drivers of the Hida Wide View express practicing the method on the Nagoya-Takayama route.

So the next time you admire the squeaky clean uniforms and brief-cases of the JR drivers, look out for the seemingly silly gestures as well. You’ll know its Shisa Kanko and you’ll know its yet another bit of Japanese brilliance.

All Photographs © Unlike Design Co.

(Alice Gordenker’s blog makes for some very interesting reading, especially if you seek answers to the countless oddities, occurrences and cultural phenomena in and around Japan)

hikari 465 to nagoya

Posted in 1, General by unliked on September 15, 2013


Satisfying the craving for a long overdue mind boost, we took off to Japan for three weeks over July and August. Nine cities, seventeen express trains, eight bullet trains, six flights, six buses, two trams, one ferry, countless metro and monorail rides later, we quite literally ran out of memory space – absorbing and living the design and culture planet that Japan is.




One of the most memorable highlights of Japan was visiting Nagoya and its museums. Nagoya is an official UNESCO certified ‘City of Design’. If you look carefully, the design language is all around – from manhole covers that are a bit more interesting to the choice of doorbells and letterboxes. I first heard of Nagoya back in 2000 at design school because of the Nagoya Design Do! competition – held every two years and always themed on the softer meaningful aspects of design. One of the reasons Nagoya featured big on our plans.



Noritake garden was the first on our list – a carefully preserved and well groomed remnant of the old Noritake ceramics factory. Amidst the loud but strangely pleasant cicada sounds of the typical Japanese summer, we found our way to the beautiful gardens amidst which the old factory, gallery, museum and craft center are set.





We had a fantastic time at the craft center – learning the never-before things about slip casting, the making of a Noritake product, surface ornamentation techniques and even viewing a century old collection of Noritake plates.




At Noritake Celabo, we saw the various applications of modern day ceramics – from circuit boards to fluorescent displays to grinding surgical needles and blades. They didn’t allow us to shoot inside, but that only made the brain take better notes.




Richer from the previous days ceramic experience, we moved on to the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology. Of course we expected this to be about automobiles, but that really isn’t so. Toyota began as Toyoda – and Sakichi Toyoda, the man behind it all, was the inventor of the first automatic power loom. It was his son, Kiichiro Toyoda, who eventually led the way to Toyota the way we know it now.



And so the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology is divided into two main sections – the textile pavilion and the automobile pavilion. We started with the textile pavilion and in the few hours we spent there, saw a beautifully put together timeline of weaving and loom technology over the past century.




From Gandhi’s charkha to Sakichi Toyoda’s Model G loom (the first automatic) to rapier looms to faster-than-the-speed-of-thought water jet looms, the museum surpasses its ingrained ability to educate both the informed as well as the casual visitor. The staff struggle a bit with their English, but they don’t let that come in the way of ensuring your complete and thorough understanding of what you see.




At some point in between the several riveting demonstrations, we couldn’t help but think of the situation back in current day industrial India, where most large corporations either don’t have the intention to share and educate of their work processes or never think of it as important enough to spend their profits on.





In the transition area between the textile and the automobile pavilion, there is a in-process model of Kiichiro Toyoda’s first car and the first Toyota ever – the Standard Sedan Model AA. It is displayed amidst a replica of the workshop where the first one was engineered for production. Nearby, there is a storage cabinet from those early years, a subtle visual reminder of Japanese work culture.





The automobile pavilion was no less than the textile pavilion in its open-ness to lay bare the materials and processes that go into the making of a Toyota automobile, or any automobile for that matter.





At the press of a button (and there are hundreds of them over the gargantuan exhibition hall), robotic arms, lights, motors and assembly lines come alive to demonstrate their contribution to car making, with signature Japanese pride.

If only Indian design institutes sponsored trips to such museums as official curriculum. And how much nicer if Indian industry opened up their rusty factory doors to the general public.

As for us, over these two fabulous days of educative brain bombing, we realised how important it is to stay close to factories and workshops, to keep our hands dirty and to keep alive the spirit of ‘making’. Even if we have to travel to Japan for it.

(Over the next few days in Japan, we visited the International Manga Museum at Kyoto and the Peace Memorial Museum at Hiroshima / Tickets for the Noritake Craft Center and the Toyota CMIT can be purchased as a combination at a special price of ¥ 800)

All Photographs © Unlike Design Co.

at the milan furniture fair

Posted in 1, Designed by unliked on May 6, 2013

So after years of watching fancy slideshows of it on design blogs, I finally got on to that flight to the Salone Internazionale del Mobile aka the Milan Furniture Fair. We showed two stool prototypes as part of the exhibit of our friend and designer Rohit Kumar – who was selected to present his work within the Salone Satellite 2013, the young designers section of the fair.



This is not the first time we’ve been a part of the Milan fair though. In 2008, we were one of the winners of the GAS World Flag design competition and our t-shirt ‘Flutter’ was on show at Superstudio Piu, Via Tortona during the Salone. The stools we designed are based on the Banaras story we’ve been working on for sometime now – trying to capture in a small yet significant way the soul of a city we love so much.



Big credits to our friend and designer Pankaj Narain who helped us get these products to life and to Rohit, without whom this trip would not have been as exciting as it was.

the 35/20 table

Posted in 1, Designed by unliked on March 2, 2013


We designed this table especially for the designXdesign exhibition in February and fell in love with it. To make it real, a CNC router behaved itself, obeyed our digital commands via an EPS file and gently though noisily caressed a panel of 10mm PVC foamboard into the shapes we needed – which of-course interlocked into each other and formed what we now call the 35/20 table. A flat pack treat!

twenty days

Posted in 1, Designed by unliked on March 2, 2013

So the 20 under 35 exhibition draws to a close. Its been an exciting twenty days – including the three setup days before the show and the culminating ‘walk/talk’ by each studio talking of their work and visions. Here are some pictures of what we put up, designed specially for the space at the Galerie Romain Rolland at the Alliance Francaise de Delhi. Our main idea for the structure was to derive the entire exhibit through an optimum usage of 4 PVC foamboard (sunboard) panels. And of course to ensure that we could put everything into a car, setup within a few hours and dismantle in minutes. No nails, tape or screws. Success!



Of-course the more interesting part has been showcasing our work to the public and to the other 19 participating designers and studios. The numerous views, opinions, critique and sometimes downright appreciation has been a rare and valuable reflection we seldom come in contact with. Its been a pleasure and of course we would like to thank Mr. Iftekhar Mulk Chishti and the entire team at designXdesign and Alliance Francaise Delhi for conceptualising the show and keeping it going year after year.


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