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The Art of Crafting Affordable and Sustainable Products

Sustainable Association of Architects and Designers Group in India (SAADGI) comprises architects, artists, sculptors, designers, potters, mud builders, and collaborators. The organization sees itself as the most extensive assembly of creative professionals ever assembled. Their ever-growing portfolio showcases remarkable works of art, sculptures, clay creations, ceramics, paintings, and various artifacts. Kamal S. Tomar, the Business Head of SAADGI, shares insights into the organization’s distinctive efforts to empower artists and artisans in an exclusive interview with The Interview World. Here are key highlights from the conversation.

Q: Tell us about your organization and its broad activities.

A: Welcome to our platform, the Sustainable Association of Artists and Designers Group, India (SAADGI). We represent artists from across India, encompassing both traditional artists and skilled artisans, whom we refer to as designers.

In addition to supporting artists, we are actively involved in the construction of sustainable mud houses. These houses are a tribute to the artisans and traditional construction workers in villages and remote areas. Mostly, organizations overlook these skilled people and they also face a lack of opportunities.

I am an architect with a passion for traditional structures and artworks. In 2019, I along with my wife (an artist) and her sister (a sculptor), initiated this endeavor within our family. Since then, our community has grown across India. We now collaborate with over a hundred artists. They are from remote regions like Hangu village on the China border and Nako village in Kerala. In Kerala, individuals work with coconut and coconut leaves to create various sustainable products.

Our interests extend to projects in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. We thrive on undertaking innovative initiatives that set us apart. At SAADGI, we take pride in assuming responsibility for unique projects and ensuring their flawless execution in a sustainable way.

Q: What are your product lines?

A: We specialize in a diverse range of art-related products and services, spanning art, architecture, and home development. Our offerings extend to corporate workshops, which we conduct in various settings, including universities, schools, and playschools. Additionally, we create unique home-developed sustainable products crafted from bamboo.

Our product range encompasses items from Assam, Agartala, and Prayagraj, where skilled artisans craft products from bamboo and rattan. In Odisha, artisans specialize in creating products from seagrass. In addition to our artistic ventures, we are actively involved in architectural projects.

Q: How do you anticipate building and sustaining long-term viability for these products through your identified customer base?

A: The term “sustainability” encompasses various facets, including financial considerations and product choices, particularly in terms of raw materials. Our focus is on utilizing raw materials that are highly sustainable compared to alternative options. It’s important to note that sustainability extends beyond just being eco-friendly. Sustainability is a comprehensive concept that we actively incorporate into our practices. Moreover, creating sustainable products needs a vision and mission. As our name suggests, we always focus on sustainable products that are environment-friendly and affordable.

Q: What kind of raw materials are you using for these sustainable products?

A: To create a financially sustainable product accessible to a broad customer base, we explore various mediums. Our products are crafted in wood, stone, fiber, and terracotta. Fiber, being the most economical and sustainable material, makes our offerings affordable to all.

Our eco-friendly cups cater to individuals passionate about sustainable choices. When placed inside, these cups allow for convenient drinking through the handle. Specifically designed for those with a delicate touch, this product is currently in the development phase and not yet finalized.

It represents just 10 percent of our extensive range of designed and customized sustainable products. While this project is a work in progress, we aim to deliver high-quality, personalized items. We always meet the unique preferences of our customers.

Q: What kind of orders you are getting? 

A: We are receiving requests for both metal and fiber sculptures, along with orders for Smart City projects. In Agra, we specialize in creating various sculptures designed for selfie points. Additionally, as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan initiative, we undertake highway painting projects.

Q: Are you exporting your products? 

A: Currently, we haven’t initiated direct export activities, but we have established partnerships with exporters. As an illustration, we’ve designed specific products for a client based in Mumbai. Subsequently, they are utilizing our goods for export to Dubai. Although we have experience in the export sector, our current approach involves collaboration rather than direct exportation.

Q: What’s your plan for the future?

A: Our strategy revolves around outperforming the Chinese market, known for its expansive nature and formidable competition. China stands out as the most significant market, presenting both challenges and opportunities.

Our goal is to make high-quality sustainable art accessible to every Indian. Many Indians currently turn to China for art, driven by the appeal of affordable options. Even prestigious clients, such as the owner of Marg Associates, a reputable IT company, have sought paintings from China. However, we faced a challenge: artists are typically more expensive than artisans. While affordability is essential, it shouldn’t compromise artists’ earnings. To address this, we’ve taken on the task of engaging more artists, aligning their perspectives with the competitive Chinese market. We aim to create products that are not just affordable but also of high quality and sustainable. Moreover, we ensure that artists can thrive without compromising on compensation.​ 

Sustainable Products Crafted by SAADGI
Sustainable Products Crafted by SAADGI

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