In the dynamic realm of contemporary design, remarkable individuals emerge with captivating stories of transformation. Vikram Goyal, a prominent figure in collectable design, has carved a unique path that traverses the worlds of finance and engineering, ultimately leading to his illustrious career in design. His journey represents the fusion of financial acumen and artistic vision that has rejuvenated traditional Indian craftsmanship with a fresh, modern appeal.
This interview delves into the captivating narrative of Vikram Goyal’s life and profession. We explore how his background in engineering and finance has shaped his innovative design methodology, his unwavering commitment to preserving age-old skills, and the evolving landscape of collectable design in India. Vikram Goyal offers insights into his design philosophy, and the innovative techniques he employs, and teases us with exciting upcoming projects.
Foyer: Before we dive into the questions, we’d like to learn more about your background. It appears you have a finance background, and I’m curious about how you made the transition into the world of design.
Vikram Goyal: When I returned in 2000, I initially set my sights on establishing myself in the Telecom Media Technology sector. However, those plans fell through, leading me to explore opportunities in India that focused on indigenous excellence. This journey began with my first venture, Kama Ayurveda. The concept involved using Ayurveda, a traditional Indian system of medicine, and infusing it with modern Western branding.
This approach extended to various materials and crafts, including metalwork. The core of my journey has been centred on reinterpreting elements of Indian culture and heritage through a contemporary lens.
F: Can you elaborate on how your engineering and finance background influenced your design approach, especially in terms of problem-solving?
VG: My background in engineering and finance played a crucial role in my ability to work effectively with artisans and employees. These professional experiences equipped me with valuable skills and a disciplined work ethic, which I have applied to my own company. It allowed me to enhance how I manage and work with artisans while maintaining high standards.
Additionally, my time spent in cities like New York and Hong Kong exposed me to a wealth of international art and culture, which further influenced my design sensibilities. So, my journey is a blend of both my Indian roots and global exposure.
F: How do you balance the rich legacy of Indian craft excellence with contemporary design in your limited-edition furniture and objects?
VG: Our studio’s language primarily centres around brass, a legacy material. We use traditional techniques, such as repoussé work, and combine them with new design elements. This marries the legacy craftsmanship with contemporary aesthetics. The key is in sampling and training artisans to work with new design ideas within traditional methods. For example, we take traditional motifs like flowers and transform them into contemporary abstract patterns or inspirations from miniature paintings. It’s all about finding that balance.
F: What is the significance of VIYA Homes’ mission to revive traditional crafts in a more accessible form, and how does it relate to your product design philosophy?
VG: VIYA Homes aligns perfectly with our product design philosophy. We focus on handcrafted, artisanal products that span a wide range of materials and product categories, including tabletop, furniture, and soft furnishings. We explore various materials, such as natural fibres, and employ different techniques to create a more accessible yet collectable line of products.
F: Can you provide examples of specific techniques or finishes that you use in your work?
VG: Two techniques stand out in our studio’s work. First, we use relief work, a traditional metalworking method that creates intricate patterns by raising metal surfaces. Second, we employ hollow joinery, where we join two metal sheets in a way that maintains strength while reducing the weight of the final product.
F: How has your representation by Todd Merrill Studio in New York and the upcoming One and Pad contributed to the global reach and visibility of your work as a collectable designer?
VG: The good thing about working with international galleries such as Todd Merrill Studio, Nilufar and PAD is that we reorient our thinking away from just our local mindset. It has been instrumental in expanding our design sensibilities to a global audience. We continuously research and adapt our materials, tones, textures, and designs to resonate with an international audience.
At Nilufar and PAD, the idea was to create a contemporary Indian design language that balances beauty and functionality. Our pieces reflected the studio’s innovative craftsmanship while composing a new contemporary design vocabulary from India.
F: How does Studio Vikram Goyal balance bespoke commissions and collaborations with architects and designers on a global scale while maintaining the core values of its craftsmanship?
VG: We collaborate with architects and designers by interpreting their concepts in our design language. This approach allows us to maintain our core design values while contributing to larger projects. Our design philosophy remains central to each project.
F: What inspires you to explore and reimagine motives from ancient narratives, traditions, and philosophies in your design work?
VG: My inspiration comes from what I like and what resonates with me. We create products we’re passionate about, and it’s a continual exploration. Our designs often reflect a blend of ancient narratives, traditions, and modern interpretations, aiming to connect with the audience.
F: How do you ensure that your designs remain timeless and appeal to modern audiences?
VG: We steer clear of trends and prioritize creating products that withstand the test of time. Our wide spectrum of designs caters to various segments, ensuring that there’s something for everyone. We aim to strike a balance between traditional elements and contemporary aesthetics to keep our creative energy flowing.
F: What future aspirations or projects can we expect from your studio?
VG: We’re launching a more accessible line of collectable accessories through VIYA Homes, which will feature various materials and products. We’re committed to evolving and reinventing our designs, collaborating with artisans, and exploring new ideas to keep our design journey fresh and exciting.
F: If you weren’t a collectable designer, what profession would you pursue?
VG: I’ve ventured into various professions, but my focus has always been rooted in the world of legacy, visual arts, heritage, and culture. I imagine I would continue to explore these avenues in different capacities.
F: How do you maintain your commitment to intergenerational knowledge and traditional techniques while staying relevant in a rapidly evolving design landscape?
VG: We invest in training and development to ensure that traditional techniques are passed down through generations. Recruits are trained under master craftspeople, allowing them to learn and master these skills. This commitment to preserving traditional craftsmanship is vital to our work.
F: How do you envision the future of collectable design in India and your role in shaping it?
VG: I am optimistic about the future of collectable design in India. More people are embracing and appreciating homegrown brands that offer quality and innovation. My role, along with other designers and organizations, is to continue promoting Indian craftsmanship and design excellence on a global scale. The future looks promising.
Foyer: Thank you for your insights. We’re looking forward to seeing your design studio and the techniques you use.
Vikram Goyal’s transition from the corporate world to the creative sphere underscores the potency of passion and ingenuity. His design studio has breathed new vitality into classical Indian craftsmanship, harmoniously blending it with a contemporary aesthetic that resonates profoundly with modern sensibilities. His role in shaping the trajectory of collectable design in India is undeniable. His dedication to harmonizing tradition and contemporary design, his commitment to the continuity of generational wisdom, and his tireless pursuit of timeless artistry establish him as an influential luminary in the field of modern design.
As we contemplate the future of collectable design in India, Vikram Goyal’s place in moulding this landscape is pivotal. With his studio’s resolve to reimagine age-old narratives and traditions, we anticipate a perpetual evolution of groundbreaking creations that captivate a global audience. His narrative illustrates the transformative potential of passion and the capacity to find beauty and craftsmanship in the most unexpected places. His work not only mirrors his odyssey but also pays homage to India’s rich cultural heritage. It’s a narrative that motivates and sparks the imagination, leaving us eagerly anticipating the next chapter in the story of this visionary designer.
Image Credits: Vikram Goyal