The gifted product designer Jenny Pinto on her favourite materials, sustainability and on why she loves Alice in Wonderland.
Design engulfs us all the time. It is up to us to either see it or not. I cannot remember a time when I was not fascinated by how things looked, or how some things made life simpler or more pleasurable, or how nature was so balanced, or how colour plays out in the scheme of things, or how perfectly designed our bodies are, I can go on and on…
You have been one of the first designers in India to work with handmade eco-friendly paper as a design material… how did you discover this humble and beautiful product and what prompted you to work with this medium?
I took paper for granted like most people did until I moved to Bangalore, quite literally in search of a material I wanted to work with. I was playing with clay and pottery then, when I accidently met a hobby paper maker. I tried it because it seemed easy so I began to explore. It was when I began to explore paper and light, that it completely consumed me.
You have also been a green crusader for a long time… there have been drastic changes in people perception towards the subject now. Your take on the green wave that has enveloped all our lives…
I don’t really see myself as a crusader. I have certain beliefs on sustainability and I am exploring them yet. Green wave? In a recent study it came up that, of the 20 most polluted cities in the world, 13 are in India. Until the majority of people are able to see how connected we all are to everything on the planet and how responsible each one of us is for environmental degradation, nothing will change.
Creating beautiful lamps out of handmade paper has always been your pet project… what are the other products you create out of natural fibers?
I used to make hand stitched books and stuff but now only paper lights. My paper is from banana fibre and I have used many other natural fibres to make paper as well, like pine apple, kora grass, mulberry, jute, water hyacinth, etc, but banana is my preferred fibre as it gives me the most translucent and gorgeous paper.
What are the projects (read, new collection/exhibitions) that is keeping you busy these days?
New collections are always in the pipeline. I am working on artworks with and from paper. That area is quite unexplored in India and its quite exciting. But what also keep me busy are civic activities. I like to engage with Bangalore’s urban issues, and there are plenty! My pet project is greater and safer pedestrianization in our urban spaces.
On a lighter note…
How do you unwind?
Cooking and travelling. I love cooking for friends and am working on a cook book right now.Travelling , specially driving or walking in a new and unfamiliar land, is the greatest pleasure of life. Give me an unknown road and a good set of walking shoes or wheels and I am in heaven!
One book you keep going back to?
Alice in Wonderland. Alice’s imaginary crazy world is frighteningly close to the real one we live in and the book takes on new and different meaning as I read it again (and again).
A funny incident from your design career…
The studio once got two deliveries mixed up and both the consignments went to the wrong address. By the time we realized it, we had one livid client, but the other client got home to find that the contractor had installed most of them (that she hadn’t ordered) but she loved them so much she refused to return them and we had a hard time dealing with the livid client.
Given a choice which country you would move to? And why?
Alice’s Wonderland. Because life is curiouser there!
The title of your autobiography would be?
Some more images…