India by Design

Taj Mahal at sunrise, simply transcendent in a pink light at dawn
I had the extraordinary good fortune to travel through India recently, in five states spread over 1.7k miles. There are endless facets to India with its history, sheer land mass, and population of 1.2 billion+ people. But there are themes in the art and architecture that I enjoyed repeatedly:

1. the glory of rich, complex, and overlapping pattern;

2. never forget the ceiling, the fifth wall;

3. vibrant color applied with abandon on both the sacred and the mundane;

4. spectacular use of sunlight, candlelight, and reflection;

5. celebration of the natural world.


Pattern is everywhere, in all varieties: geometric, curvilinear, freeform.
Qutb Minar complex, Delhi built c. 1200


Red Fort, Delhi. Even a small knob on a door panel has wonderful attention to detail.


Always look UP.  Whether painted plaster, carved stone, or inlayed reflective glass, ceilings are surfaces not to be missed.

Ceiling in Red Fort, Delhi

Meherangarh Fort, Jodhpur. Venetian glass was used for decoration in the lavish Phool Mahal chamber c. 1730-50

The carved marble ceiling of the Adinath Jain Temple, built in the 1400s at Ranakpur, is intricate & stunning
The Adinath Temple has 1,444 columns, EACH one is unique!

Pattern, light, and reflection are designed to intersect, with gorgeous results.

Reflecting pool at the Taj Mahal at sunrise
(aside: the Taj Mahal is even MORE fabulous than the hype)

Mosaics made with reflective mercury glass would provide incredible effects at night,
walls shimmering with the dancing light of torches, 
Meherangarh Fort

The Ceiling is a key actor, playing with light in reflective mosaics!
During the day that same ceiling would glitter with jewel tones
of the rich carpets spread on the floor below -- so all times of day & night would be spectacular.


Shadows created by the screens are mesmerizing.



















I loved seeing modern use of the shadow and light effect,
both in a hotel lobby & even at the airport phone stand:
 

Pattern, pattern everywhere.
classic shot of Hawa Mahal, Jaipur

Pattern in marble bracket detail, Fatehpur Sikri




Inlaid stone pattern on the Taj Mahal, Agra, creates
an optical illusion of multiple surfaces -- it's actually FLAT

This Warli wall painting art, above, translates nicely into a modern-made gate, below



This modern sculpture is a great take on the face painting for Theyyam worship in southern India:

Use of color in Indian art is simply delicious...

painted miniature, Merherangarh Fort, Jodhpur

detail of Peacock, glass inlay wall relief, City Fort, Udaipur

India is a dangerous place for a fabric junkie (like me). The textiles are over-the-top gorgeous.

detail of hand embroidered shawl

Even the carpet in the airport is fantastic... as is a rustic blue door in a remote village.

If you're going to carry a bundle of sticks, do it in a fuchsia sari.


You'd have no trouble finding your way to this Hindu temple in time for services.


Holi Festival powders


Many patterns, particularly in the architecture, were inspired by the natural world, especially the science of astronomy. 
Ceiling Humayun's Tomb, Delhi

Red Fort, Delhi


Actual flowers from nature (not stylized) are a constant design element, both in carved stone at major monuments, and as live petals in modern settings.

 
Hard to imagine the number of Marigold petals pulled apart to make this floating carpet of petals in a lotus-inspired fountain.




 "Goodnight" in my hotel room included delicate flower petal art on the bathroom counter.



The Most Chic Camps at Burning Man 2016




After pedaling around massive art sculptures rising out of the desert silt or partying to techno music, 65,000 burners retreat their camps in Black Rock City to recharge for the next adventure.

Most burners pitch nylon tents in the dry lakebed, affectionately known as the Playa. 
But a steady trend toward Playa glamping has bred elaborate setups, with an eye toward design style, comfort, and fun.
Ali Bar Bar offers drinks at night in a Bedouin tent

Dome On The Range provides cold beer on tap in their saloon
video
Didn't get enough soccer at the Olympics? 
AwesomeSauce Camp invites burners to become a human soccer ball

So what is Playa-Chic 2016? 
Forget must haves of the “Default World” such as copper bathtubs, barely-there kitchens, reclaimed wood, massive flat screens, or “important” artwork.
Barbie Death Camp serves "fine wine in cheap paper cups,"
while burners admire the art
Even in an RV, burners show domestic high style…

...more so in a bus without amenities.

The hottest camps find a way to beat the heat. Their soft (if dusty) seating, vivid use of color, and over-the-top art offer all-around respite from the blistering, two-tone landscape. 
A water mister is glorious; a slushie machine, the holy grail.
Frozen Oasis is the top of my list for style, hospitality, and music.
This camp not only is artfully decorated, has water misters (!)
  and multiple slushie machines (!!),
it also gifts classical music concerts by the 80 piece Playa Pops Orchestra
to the burner community
video


White Bronco camp has killer decor
and the hippest DJ dance tunes at night
These White Bronco burners don't really mind the heat
Each Theme Camp, planned and run by 15-40 burners, offers a special gift to the larger community: a classical symphony performance, free handmade food on Taco Tuesday, a pictorial museum of "The Man," group showers, a steady supply of bacon. 
Mansonian Institute (think Smithsonian but MAN-sonian) presents
a pictorial history and museum of The Man
video
Tubatron entertains visitors to the Museum with his flaming tuba

Comfort and Joy is a gay community camp offering a full gym
and yoga classes to all, in great colors against the dust
The best camps, welcoming in their decor and atmosphere, embody the inclusive spirit of Burning Man itself. There’s nothing sweeter than a fellow burner’s ready offer of a slushie when you stumble back into camp after a hot day on the Playa. Nestling into a dusty beanbag, you sip a frozen brew and drink in the artful d├ęcor all around you.