Parag Sarma |

Earthsong: Wooden Toys from Baktawng, Mizoram

Guide Gayatri Menon
Sponsor Design Clinic Scheme
Keywords finished surfaces;local markets;raw materials;wooden carpentry

In initial stages of the project, preliminary information was sought on the crafts, carpentry, and the people of Baktawng.

Field visits gave a whole new perspective on the craft, the craftspersons, and the culture of Mizoram in depth. All this ground research helped understand the overall system of Baktawng’s wooden carpentry. Market and user surveys were done to identify the opportunity areas for the development of Baktawng’s wooden carpentry cluster. Based on the surveys, work commenced on wooden developmental toys for children aged 3–5 years.

The inspiration was majorly taken from the crafts of Baktawng, Mizoram and Assam; craftspersons’ working styles, traditional toys, modern toys available in local markets were studied. Focus was on the making process and development of a specific form language that was unique and fresh, while keeping in mind the manufacturing process and the products which could even be made by less skilled craftspersons. Every craft has to be treated in a different manner; it has its own processes, associated culture, people, and surroundings. It was very challenging to come up with a design solution for the entire craft cluster keeping in mind their development in the overall market scenario.

The most challenging aspect was dealing with their mind set, understanding them and involving them in the new kind of designs based on systematic thinking. The design should be such that they develop interest in them and take them forward keenly on their own. It was interesting to see the comparison and difference/change in the making process of wooden craft, considering the raw materials used for each. Baktawng’s clusters involve unique finished surfaces which were highly interesting to work with; this put one back in touch with one’s education as a sculptor.
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