Founder, Curator, Editor-in-Chief – STIR
A designer, thinker and conceptualizer for things creative, provocative and challenging, Amit traversed into promoting design and architecture by establishing the first Indian design gallery- vis a vis, in 1997. vis a vis curated highly acclaimed architecture and design events.
Amit founded STIR (See. Think. Inspire. Reflect) in 2014, a global entity that offers exclusively curated, carefully analysed and meticulously presented content in the domain of architecture, art and design. STIR also offers an arena for cross-disciplinary collaborations, industry connects and community building.
Under his leadership as Editor-in-Chief, www.STIRworld.com today is a globally recognised media house and a curatorial agency.
1. Tell us about your definition of a good design?
A design that strives to be useful at its core, is understandable. When conjured with a specific aesthetic sense, imbued with features of being unobtrusive and long-lasting, and involving as little intervention as possible, it comes close to being defined as ‘good design.’ Of course, what makes design ‘good’ is mostly subjective to its end users, but in principle, these tenets would make objects and their ensuing narratives interesting and truly timeless. Simplified design remains the best, as it attests mainly to function, and lets go of superfluous elements, in pursuit of harmonious integration of functionality, aesthetics, and sustainability, resulting in compelling solutions that enhance the user’s experience and positively impact the built environment.
2. Tell us a little about your background. How did you develop a passion for design?
A designer, thinker and conceptualiser for all things creative, provocative, and challenging, I have endeavoured to promote design and architecture by establishing ‘vis a vis’, the first Indian design gallery in 1997. The company curates highly acclaimed architecture and design events and projects across India. In 2003, Vis a Vis progressed into a globally recognised, integrated lighting solutions company under my creative direction. In 2014, I founded STIR (See. Think. Inspire. Reflect.), a global digital platform that offers exclusively curated, carefully analysed, and meticulously presented content in the domains of architecture, design, and art.
In 2015, STIR launched the Indian edition of mondo*arc india, now known as ‘arc magazine,’ acclaimed as an influential and ‘well-read’ design publication in the country. Post an experience in print publication, in 2019, I ventured into launching the global digital publication, STIRworld.com, as well as a digital platform to bring the creative community together called STIRpad.com, in 2021, led by an avid interest to give voices to the creative community, enable dialogues, debates, and discourse, and enable collaborations and community empowerment in tandem.
Today, STIR stands as a globally recognised media house, curatorial agency, and platform that enables cross-disciplinary collaborations, industry connections, and community-building. In our steady endeavours, we represent some of the leading design brands, architectural authors, and established and young artists, apart from curating engaging exhibitions, talks, and conferences in the aforementioned creative realms. I have also been part of panel discussions and juries of established global awards and events such as Salone del Mobile.Milano, Art Dubai, and more, and moderated esteemed talks with leading creative professionals globally.
3. What advice would you give to future IDA entrants?
Embrace the part of you that questions everything, even when, or especially when, it makes you uncomfortable. It doesn’t matter how experienced or inexperienced one is in the field of design and creativity—embrace curiosity and try to take risks occasionally, otherwise, existing in stagnation and inaction will hamper your creative growth like a cancerous, grotesque killer. This truly helps in cultivating a strong, disciplined foundation of technical skills, to create meaningful, impactful designs. Owe yourself that growth and action.
4. Do you see design as an expression of art?
I am compelled to emphasise the importance of the dynamic and influential bond that design and art share—the former, at its heart, is best expressed with subliminal or perhaps, explicit artistry. Think about it—design as a medium, art as its expression. This convergence enables creators to channel their creativity, and underscore it with innovation and beauty, heading towards meaning and purpose, evoking reactions, focusing on the user’s emotions and thoughts, and ultimately, inspiring change. A creator’s artistic sensibility truly gives a unique voice to their work, making their designs transcend from mere functional pieces to distinct, sculptural ones, marked by intention.
Art has the ability to question, to soothe, to simulate, enrage, or engage. When juxtaposed with the ingenuity that design demands, it transforms into something more powerful and compelling, and in essence, elevates design’s practical aspect with an enhanced, thoughtful aesthetic.
5. Do you believe there is a design ethic?
Absolutely. Any sort of creative work, from design to performative arts to anything, genuinely insists on an ethical string, ebbing at the same pace and rhythm that you create at. The underlying reason is something simple yet widely unpractised—ethical design is a responsibility very few take seriously. As creatives, one should always consider the impact your design has on individuals, society, as well the environment. It simply translates to a cultivated discipline that is held by facets of inclusivity, sustainability, and transparency in work. Incorporating moral and ethical considerations into the design process and outcomes involves making conscious choices.
6. Is there anything in particular that you look for when judging a design award?
Any aspect or outcome of design must be outlined by functionality. Accessing how well a piece of design fulfils its intended purpose, is crucial as a judging criterion for me—therefore, the needs of the user, the overall usability, and the efficiency of the object remain paramount. An evaluation of aesthetics comes second, as the visual appeal and artistic qualities of the design, from colour and material composition to ergonomics and proportions play a pivotal part. Craftsmanship, innovation, and longevity are other important features to consider, apart from the story behind it—what the design does, caters to, and its specific context and identity in a social setting. Lastly, sustainability remains an underlying measure to judge the impact of the design, including its use of resources, energy efficiency, the potential to be recycled or made of recycled/ upcycled materials, and its flexibility to repurpose into multiple lives and uses.
7. After reviewing the IDA projects, did you see evidence of current trends or challenges in the design industry?
The submitted IDA entries confirmed the multidimensional landscape of the global design industry. A rising emphasis on sustainable and eco-conscious design practices was witnessed, driven by the urgency of addressing climate change. Additionally, the expanding digital realm demands a focus on user experience design, accommodating evolving technologies and traversing virtual interactions. Inclusivity and diversity are also gaining steady momentum, prompting designers to imagine and author equitable and culturally sensitive solutions, something a lot of entries held.