Amsterdam-based Industrial Designer Satyendra Pakhalé completed his Degree in Engineering and a Masters in Design from India, and studied Advanced Product Design in Switzerland. He later worked at Philips Design – creating innovative products in the areas of digital communication and transportation. In 1998, he set up his own design practice in Amsterdam. His clientèle include renowned companies and organisations such as Alessi, Bosa, Cappellini, Colombo Design, Erreti, Magis, Moroso, Tubes (Italy), Hästens, Offecct, Väveriet (Sweden) and Material ConneXion (USA). Satyendra works in a wide range of disciplines, bringing to his design a set of fresh perspectives and a diversity of innovative cultural connections. His work is showcased in many respected public collections like Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, Canada and Centre Pompidou, Paris, France.
Of Indian Origin caught up with Satyendra for a chat.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, what made you become a designer and how did you start your career?
Satyendra Pakhalé: I was born in the heart land of India and grew up in fascinating and lovely country surroundings, with lots of exposure to ancient sculptures to contemporary poetry. Then I went to study technical stuff and discovered the industrial design profession. One thing led to another, my curiosity took me from one place to another. Perhaps that’s what made me a designer, it’s been a long journey, but indeed a fascinating and rewarding one.
What is your design philosophy?
Satyendra Pakhalé: I do not believe in a dogma, a fixed notion of any sort. I believe in creating human design, design that has warmth like a human being, as we are surrounded by designed objects and environment all over on our tiny planet.
Can you tell us about the most challenging product that you have designed?
Satyendra Pakhalé: The most challenging project is the one I am working on right now.
What has been your best communication project and why?
Satyendra Pakhalé: Every project is a unique journey, so I would not know which one is the best. All I can say is the window architecture I designed for Tod’s, the Italian fashion brand was so well received that they took my design which was specified for their New York Saks 5th avenue flagship store, and used it for all of their flagship stores on our planet. But the one I had most fun with was the Urban Cityscape I designed for Ittalla, Finland.
What do you think about the upcoming design talent in India?
Satyendra Pakhalé: I think there is a lot of talent all over India, but most often people hardly get the possibility to hone their talent. In any creative profession, it’s a long journey and one has to believe in it.
Is there a huge difference in the way design is perceived between India and the western world?
Satyendra Pakhalé: Of course there is a difference, it is mainly the awareness. Design could be often misunderstood as style. In fact design is a fundamental quality of life and how a designer goes on addressing those fundamental needs in the best possible manner in a given situation. We, in India, ought to make use of design methodology in every aspect of life as we have the huge benefit of creating system solutions in the 21st century and learn from the mistakes done elsewhere.
How much is sustainability a factor in your design process? Is it a tough act balancing form and design with sustainability?
Satyendra Pakhalé: Sustainability unfortunately is an over used word. For me it is a fundamental aspect of any design project, so there is no question of balancing anything. I have often said, I really hope there should never be any trend related to sustainability. As we all know, trends come and go. We simply cannot afford to have sustainability as trend. It ought to be an integral part of our living.
What do you envisage to be the next big product/industrial design trend?
Satyendra Pakhalé: As I said trends come and go, industrial design ought to have lasting quality and address human needs. I do not believe in trends, but I am keen on innovation of all sorts in every industrial design project that I undertake.
Whose work do you admire the most in the design world?
Satyendra Pakhalé: The thing I admire most in life is the possibility to exercise one’s freedom to create – and particularly in the design world – to create projects in all directions possible from industrial to cultural arena and everything in-between. The names that come to my mind right now are Frederick Kiesler, Shiro Kuramata, Ettore Sottsass, Tapio Wirkkala and Isamu Noguchi but there are many more.
Thank you for the interview. One last question, what is the next big project you are working on?
Satyendra Pakhalé: At a given time there are several projects in a process. For me each project has it’s significance, irrespective of its size. But the one that captivates me most at this point of time is the futuristic project for outer space.