Chandigarh Collective

Image : Creative Commons Chandigarh Capitol Project Team, Author Unknown



Chandigarh Collective refers to the architects, designers, model makers and craftspeople who contributed to the design and prototyping of furniture for the city of Chandigarh in the 1950s.

To provide historical context - In the early 1950s, it was decided by the Punjab government of the day that furniture must be created for public buildings in the new city of Chandigarh. The furniture was to reflect the modernist architecture, but adapted to local usage requirements and made by Indian craftsmen with locally available material and skills.

A Design Office was set up under the leadership of Pierre Jeanneret with a team of young Indian designers and architects assisting him. Over a period of time architects such as A. R. Prabhawalkar, U. E. Chowdhury, B. P. Mathur, Aditya Prakash and others were involved in creating a range of furniture. While the influence of French Modernism is evident in the designs, local artisans and model makers worked closely with the designers and contributed to the Indian Modernism that emerged.

The drawings created by the Design Office were given out to several carpentry workshops with instructions that they could improvise on the design or material as per their judgement and requirement. Therefore there are several variants of each model. These pieces were meant to be freely reproduced and were never licensed to a single manufacturer. Over the years the designs became pervasive and the same style of furniture could be seen in government offices and private spaces in other Indian cities like Bangalore and Delhi too. The designs and variants of these designs have been produced from the 1950s to the present day, in what can only be described as perhaps the first open source design project of such scale, anywhere in the world.

by Chandigarh Collective

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