For the duration of London Design Festival ’14, installed in a very musty, antique cabinet in Shoreditch’s famous Dishoom was Tiipoi’s one-off commission of charger plates inspired by the classic thali plate from India. A thali is essentially a stainless steel plate with raised edges about an inch and as an everyday, functional eating object works exceptionally well in India because a) people are most comfortable eating with their fingers, b) the raised rim helps to contain the food in your plate even if you are a novice, c) it is light enough to hold your plate up close (similar to using chopsticks and a bowl) and finally d) stainless steel is hard-wearing and almost indestructible – which allows it to be thrown around during communal wash ups without any obvious worry.
As a studio we work extensively with copper and brass, materials that were once so significant in the Indian household, on the table and in the kitchen. Almost everyone and every family has at some point in their lives been given a set of utensils or thalis, in brass or copper, that have their ‘family initials’ ingrained on one side. We loved this this idea of personal mark making that was a recurring theme in India across personal and collective spaces. The most common and still relevant, however, is the Kolam of Southern India – a morning ritual still practiced today by women of the home. So, what is a Kolam? A Kolam is a drawing made on one’s doorstep from rice flour, using a very precise combination of dots, lines and loops. The tradition comes from feeding the little creatures that would otherwise find themselves in the kitchen.
For Dishoom we commissioned a single, all-encompassing Kolam that was etched across 16 charger plates spun from brass and copper – connecting these materials with their purpose today in a new context, towards a hope of reviving their use on the table once again. Kolam was on display at Dishoom Shoreditch as part of Tiipoi’s design trail at London Design Festival 2014.