An Immersive Workspace/ The Office Space as Art Installation

“Making art involves an emotional journey”, Calcutta based artist Narayan Sinha tells me. He is describing to me the rather fascinating process of designing the office of renowned production house SVF Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. As an artist who self identifies as a sculptor, he hesitates to classify what he has made simply as ‘interior decor’. This would be to reduce what he has visualised on the same lines as his other installation art work. “An immersive installation, then”, I offer, “exactly”, he quips.

 

Mr. Sinha, the man who conceptualised a whole 25,000 sq ft office space as an immersive installation, has traversed a trajectory of creativity that simply cannot be contained under nominal categories and disciplines. Although he established himself as a sculptor, he quickly realised that this only served to limit his framework, making his art exclusive pieces that could only be displayed in the context of the art gallery, to a specific, elite audience. He moved intuitively into jewelry making, seeing there an output for his skills of carving, shaping and molding things. The SVF office project is another such stop in his extraordinary journey.

“The pair of door handles that greet you as you enter the office is a tribute to the spotlight. They are made of repurposed light stands.” A film lover, Sinha wanted to consciously introduce a reverence for the reel, which would serve as the thematic groundwork for the design. He developed his vision to the client over more than fifteen candid dinners and chats, and was awarded full freedom to unleash his aesthetic intuitions upon the space. Although he was first approached to create an installation that would be part of the renovated office space, it became clear that his astute vision was expansive enough to fill the whole office space.

 

Delightfully eloquent, he breaks down every little bit of the meticulously designed space for me. The reception area features a stunning chandelier made of trumpets with a shiny brass finish. “I have generously used musical instruments because SVF is also an ace music production company”. The idea was a create a space that inspired creativity with these persistent and aesthetically placed references. “You know, offices in Calcutta tend to be very casual. People come and go, and not much might be done in between. I wanted to create a place that resonates with energy and glamour and motivates everyone in the space”. There is room, too, for the casual, loungy element that is so essentially a part of Calcutta, in the industrial style cafeteria. This unique response to the context of Calcutta and Bengaliyana unsurprisingly serves as a thematic basis. Tinted orange filament light bulbs on a C Stand fall on a picturesque cityscape of Kolkata, the city of joy. The main office area has a unique light installation with 213 taxi headlights, rekindling nostalgic memories of people traveling together in quaint yellow ambassadors early in the morning.

 

The whole office is draped in an appropriate nostalgia that evokes the history of the celluloid industry. The projector, a symbol of a bygone era is carefully utilized as a reception desk.

“I isolated a special area to pay tribute to the big, revered names like Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, Rituparno Ghosh”. Elements like these at once evoke the past in an ethos of modernity. A table lamp sits covered in negatives that act as a shade. These negatives were carefully handpicked from a documentary about Rabindranath Tagore. There is a certain balance between the perspective of Calcutta and the global world that is achieved in subtle kinesthetic touches like the widespread use of monochrome black and white that also extends the timelessness that governs the design.

Elsewhere, the monochrome is playfully offset by the generous use of glass, for colour, reflecting the vividness of modern cinema. Canvas cuttings of a painted camera are laid out on glass, the final form ambiguous enough to flit between a butterfly, a man, and so on, reflecting the way films tease the vision. It is in the way that these elements come together that a quality of immersion is experienced in the space. The box and book installation represents how, as you flip through the pages of a book, the words take you to a surreal voyage, an art of balance and liberation, for the uninhibited ideas our minds possess. “It is ultimately the exchange of ideas and creativity through collaboration that I value about each project”, Mr. Sinha smiles. The fact that there is a marked increase in energy levels, along with highly positive feedback from some big names who visited the completed office doesn’t hurt.

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