My name is Chris Dame, and I have been talking with several other artistic friends in India about a project we’ve wanted to start for years now. Making toys. Specifically, toys that combine the Western sensibilities of design, urban vinyl, and “toys as art” with traditional Indian artisans, creating a new concept that uses local, sustainable materials to bring to life something entirely new. My hope is that we will be able to bring these new characters to life in playful, fun ways that will also teach people something about India they didn’t know. I suspect I will be learning quite a bit along the way.
I finally decided we had waited long enough, carved out several months of my life, and flew to the other side of the world to start. I am far from alone in this journey, as I am working closely with friends who have been making big artistic projects happen in India their entire lives. I will be working closest with Manjari Sheel, an up-and-coming toy designer, and Soujanyaa Boruah, who is an artist working on using projectors and storytelling to create educational toys. As a group, we occasionally work with Ayush Chauhan, the founder of international design agency Quicksand, and Avinash Kumar, founder of design collective Greenhouse, to get help with local manufacturing and use their connections to talk to some of the most talented people in India for advice.
I’ve only been in India a matter of days and I’ve already gotten heat stroke while exploring the back streets of Delhi. Hopefully this gets our bad luck out of the way up front, because I can’t wait to see what comes out of our collective minds.