From Mundane To Meaningful
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Industrial design consultant Paul Sandip believes in transforming everyday objects with designs that stay in the mind

Were you always inclined towards a career in design?

PS: I loved playing with science kits as a child, and often volunteered to assist the electrician visiting our home. My favorite pastime was to open up gadgets and fix them up again. I clearly remember receiving an electric shock while playing around with a light switch but that did not keep me away from tinkering with everyday objects during my childhood in Bhubaneswar. My mother would carefully nurture my creativity by providing me with all sorts of resources to build indigenous objects of art and play. When we moved to Kolkata I felt uprooted from my comfort zone and became very reclusive. I started sketching old monuments and dilapidated buildings from the British era. I started observing people around me and their interaction with the immediate surroundings, and wrote anecdotes about awkward social behavior in my private journal, sometimes making illustrative narratives. Soon, this urge to express what I was observing resulted in my first paid job as a freelance cartoonist with The Statesman in 1994. This was quite a notable turning point in my life and I started dreaming of becoming a professional cartoonist!

However, like most Indian teenagers whose parents decide their career path, I pursued a Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering from Nagpur University. I soon realized that there was nothing I could apply in real life as the curriculum was mostly theoretical. I wanted to build things myself and began acquiring carpentry and black smithy skills in the college workshop. I also started creating small devices such as a water tank fill alarm controlled by my own hand drawn ‘Printed Circuit Boards’. The same year, I represented my college in a pan-India creative engineering competition, Technodeon, hosted by KITS, Ramtek. I devised a newspaper launcher which won me my first design award!

In time I began to feel that I was being formally trained to be a cog in the wheel, which I didn’t want to be. So I decided that I would not take up an engineering job at any cost. My rebellious thoughts were solely supported by Suhasini, my college classmate and now wife, who is a toy designer of international repute. Together we started working as window display decorators for various retail outlets. One of our assignments was a dynamic snowfall scene for a large window display for Navneet Bookstore; it got noticed by many creative enthusiasts.

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