Perspectives on Indian creative culture.

Design Communities & Spaces

While the internet and the buzz of social networking sites have helped like-minded people find each other and build online communities, there still is an extended arm to these social communities. It involves live interaction with multiple viewpoints, ardent discussions and debates with an eye open towards creative innovations.

While Google+ has attempted to arrive at such a platform using its “Hangout” application, there still is a chasm yet to be bridged between the virtual and physical worlds.My enthusiasm to explore this aspect of physical communities in Bangalore led me to actively look out for creative communities on social network sites first.

I stumbled upon the event page of 'Second to None', which promised of a flea market with a difference. It was an initiative started by Anu Gummaraju, Reena Chengappa and Shilpa Kamath in the form of a facebook group to promote the idea of reuse and upcycling.

Second to None – Flea Market
The tagline for the initiative was “Don't discard. Resell. Don't waste. Share.” All set to do some value shopping, I decided to explore the flea market.
The place boasted creative use of discarded everyday household items ranging from wine bottles, food containers, handmade paper, old magazine covers & textile etc. People had gathered to buy/sell used or upcycled goods. There were animated discussions on each stall about the vision, the product story, the materials and processes.

Recycled paper and restaurant food containers used to create gorgeous lamps

Old discarded bicycle tyre rim turned into beautiful art piece 

Upcycled Wine Bottles

Some of these discussions turned my attention to the venue of the event “Jaaga”. I was informed that this was one of the many such events being organized by them.

Jaaga – Creative Common Ground

I visited Jaaga again as I felt there is more to the place than what meets the eye at first encounter. Here are some of the interesting facts about the Jaaga itself.

Jaaga was formed by Archana Prasad & Freeman Murray, coming from art and technology backgrounds respectively. Jaaga means ‘Space’ in Kannada language and it was formed with a vision to provide a sustainable modular space for art, design and technology communities to meet discuss and collaborate on various topics.

Events at Jaaga
Jaaga promotes creative communities by hosting events supporting social and environmental issues. To name a few, they have hosted events for tech startups, educational workshops, musical events, TEDx talk broadcasting, flea markets, art meetups, installations & discussions around social innovation.

It also boasts of an Electronics Lab where people work on next generation lighting systems, and a Media Lab that trains people in new media technologies.

I attended another event at Jaaga, the launching of the “Solar Sound System”, a collaboration project by Swiss designer Cédric Carles and French musical group Vialka and supported by Swissnex. The Solar Sound System is a solar-powered amplification unit, which was assembled from scratch, using locally available materials in Bangalore.

Solar powered sound amplification unit in Jaaga Courtyard

I had reached the venue early and found time to discuss about the project with the designers and a Swissnex rep. It was interesting to hear about initiatives being taken by organizations to promote diverse cultural events. Also there was a a group engrossed in rehearsals for a theatrical performance and a group of tech geeks thumping out lines of codes on their laptops.

As the day progressed the ambience of the locale changed dramatically. The recently opened courtyard café at Jaaga, hosting the performance, provided a perfect ambience. The sound of guitar, drums & vocals inspired by the desert blues, Asian and African rhythms, Chinese folk songs and European gypsy song dynamics slowly descended on the enchanting evening.

Jaaga Structure
The entire structure at Jaaga is constructed with pallet racking system.  The floors are plywood or block board, and the external walls are recycled east Asian billboards. Jaaga is described as a ‘Living Building’ as the flexibility of the pallet racks make it possible for the structure to change as per the need of the event. As the founders put it, the vision is to make the space sustainable both environmentally and as a community.

Vertical green garden on one side of rotating panels and artwork on the other side of the panel

Counter Culture
Developed on similar lines is another place “Counter Culture” which boasts of an spacious amphitheatre for creative gatherings which include but is not limited to theatrical performances, live music by renowned as well as budding artists, workshops, sports, food exhibitions and other events.

The place is promoting itself via its multi-cuisine restaurant, but has much more to offer on the platter. The ultimate aim is to promote creative communities to come together and perform, much as the tag line says – “A restaurant, a bar, AN OPEN SPACE”.

Image Courtesy,

There are many more communities of photographers, bikers & designers that are active online as well as in physical world, at various stages of evolution and which I would definitely want to explore in the days to come. It is great to see the online and real world communities in Bangalore supplementing the existence of each other towards a common goal – promoting a creative community and it’s great to be part of it.

Also, it is interesting to see that in a city known for its technical prowess and modern outlook, people are coming together to support and spread awareness towards local art & craft, sustainability, experimental architecture, waste management and other social & environmental issues with design being the key factor around these initiatives.