ISRO inspires Channapatna rockets as engineers collaborate with artisans

The Indian Space Research Organization offers its achievements in a language that connects, just in time for National Science Day, with DIY rocket models, Mangalyaan puzzles, T-shirts and more.

The Indian Space Research Organization offers its achievements in a language that connects, just in time for National Science Day, with DIY rocket models, Mangalyaan puzzles, T-shirts and more.

“What we do is rocket science,” proclaims one T-shirt. Created by Indic Inspirations for the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), the tee is part of its Vyom collection. Most of the products, which include Mangalyaan-based puzzles, rocket ship collectible matchboxes, mySpace PSLV notebooks and fridge magnets, come with a storyboard.

“This collection focuses on the achievements of ISRO in the field of space science and technology. We needed to create a line that would appeal to both kids and adults alike,” says Yogesh Dandekar, Architect and Lead Product Designer at Indic Inspirations. “India is doing a lot of work in space technology and people should know that.” He adds that the smallest details on the models arouse curiosity.

When Indic Inspirations approached ISRO with a pitch to tell their story in a new style, ISRO came back with a massive 10GB of data. This included a catalog full of drawings of ISRO rockets, photos taken by Cartosat, the IRS satellites, by Mangalayaan and Chandrayaan, and videos of their launches. A line of 50 products was created from there.

A third-generation artisan engineering company from Moradabad, known for die-casting, was contracted to manufacture medallions; Channapatna craftsmen, in-house designers and a “passionate engineer from IIT Chennai” worked to create the rocket-shaped pencil box – to refer to the PSLV’s four stages – boosters, payload fairing and the satellite. “Channapatna uses lacquer techniques with natural colors and dyes,” says Sunil Jalihal, social entrepreneur and founder of Indic Inspirations.

Since 2014, Indic Inspirations has been working with artisans and artisans for the Heart For Art charity project which was set up to help Indian artisans connect with consumers. In 2019, he introduced a contemporary language to tell stories of India using utilitarian products and memorabilia by introducing technology at all levels of product design and engineering. In addition to e-commerce, they opened a physical store, Phygital, in Pune.

“There are different ways of telling stories,” says Sunil, adding, “We believe that objects stay on people’s shelves and desks to be touched and felt. Our aim has been to narrate the culture and achievements of India using 65 indigenous crafts and artisan groups who work with wood, metal, grass, pottery, folk painting, masks and others.

A t-shirt from the ISRO product line

A t-shirt from the ISRO product line | Photo credit: ISRO

Tap into mythology

The brand started by finding ways to present mythology in a modern context, Sunil explains, giving an example of using the ten heads of the mythical demon king Ravana as a dart board. “He was a master of the Vedas but his ten heads represent the vices. We moved the center of the target a bit in the dartboard we created. »

Medallions, coasters, clocks were created in the line of products that told the story of Zero or Chunya. Subsequently, the company designed products around the Indian preamble, flag and constitution. “Our Constitution, in addition to being a legal document, is also a work of art. It was penned by Prem Behari Narain Raizada, and illustrated by Nandalal Bose and his team. So, we used the original ‘constitution document’ which was used to frame the original incorporation document, to frame the preamble and such,” says Sunil.

Some of the merchandise available

Part of the merchandise available | Photo credit: ISRO

Indic Inspirations has also worked with artisans from Pattamadai in Tamil Nadu to revive the dying art of mat weaving using darbha grass to create chic yoga mats. He helped revive a dying ancient pottery craft in Kutch and recreated a betel leaf box from Bidri’s work which is in the Sotheby’s Museum in London.

Returning to the space collection, Sunil is happy that they are ISRO’s first registered dealers and operate with them for a nominal license fee and set of rules. He says the products have connected well with students, space watchers, astronomers and lay consumers, adding that a board game based on the Mars mission will be launched soon.

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