It has to be the most unusual address: ‘Below Mahalaxmi flyover’. A little distance away from the crowded Mahalakshmi station is Ajay Shah’s design store and studio.
The 2,000 sqft odd area houses a design store, The Everyday Project, and a design studio, Ajay Shah Design Studio (ASDS). The Everyday Project is a year old and was not started to make profits or make a splash commercially. “It was born out of a need to bring in awareness about good design. Good design is misunderstood. It is not about being colourful or quirky but it is the result of inventive thinking, being able to produce something in the right manner, using the right materials. It is an expression,” says designer and the brain behind the store, Ajay Shah.
Shah is a veteran in the design scene and is best known for his Rubberband brand of stationery, particularly the notebooks. Rubberband has faithful fans, who are attracted to its simplicity of design and style. “Most of the projects initiated in the past have been based on the idea of doing something different and less on viability. Rubberband was not started on the principle that it will sell but that it should communicate a design idea. The Everyday Project came from the same thinking process,” says Shah.
Shah is very particular about the designs on display. They have to satisfy Shah’s idea of good design and should be museum-worthy (that is products approved by museums worldwide)! The store cum studio is like a warehouse—it is stark and white, featuring aluminum ducts, an exposed ceiling, and a fascinating collection of designs from all over the world. The whole Rubberband series is there—planners, desktop products, notebooks, bookmarks, envelopes, and dockets. Shah’s furniture, showcased here, is marketed under the Industrial Playground label.
The other items include door stoppers, rubber straps and lamps from the Dutch studio, Droog; mechanical pencils, writing instruments and accessories from Woerther Baden-Baden; liquid bookmarks made from silicon rubber from the Japanese company Kyouei design; city maps from Palomar, and bags and pouches from Unit Portables.
Why Mahalaksmi? Shah says, “I had my studio at Famous Studios. When we started looking for space, we found this one. It was at the bottom of the bridge and had such an interesting character to it.”
Shah believes, “A lot of work these days is largely focused on artistic expression and sadly loses out in other design ways.” However, he is confident about a bright future for design, largely stemming from the number of small startups focused on creating and promoting good design.
Currently, the store is undergoing a transition. Though Shah refuses to divulge the specifics, we gather that he plans to turn it into something that will further the cause of good design.