Before coming to the RCA Rashmi Bidasaria studied BA architecture and worked within an architectural practice in India. Studying Design Products prompted a big change in her approach to design. She was encouraged to stop thinking and start making – advice that had a profound impact on her design practice.
Rashmi used her time on the Design Products programme to develop a project around steel waste. Her family runs a factory in India recycling steel. Although she grew up with this environment, her experiences at the RCA transformed her perspective on it.
“I started to look at that factory from a very different point of view, seeing it as an opportunity space to do something” she explained.
She worked closely with factory workers – using their material and practical knowledge to create furniture from the waste products of the steel recycling process.
“The way that we designed the process was completely intrinsic to the factory”, Rashmi added “and there's at least 100 factories in India that operate the same way. So it was a case of taking that process to different factories.”
As well as the outcomes from the project, studying at the RCA helped Rashmi to develop her design practice. She outlined “the big learning was understanding resources within our community, looking at different materials and how those have the potential to be something else.”
“I learnt how to work with people and with communities, just understanding different points of view and bringing that together. Coming to RCA with the idea of: ‘What are the things I could make?’ has completely shifted to: ‘how can we get together and make things?’”
‘Dross’ was one specific outcome of Rashmi’s time at the College, however, so was developing a transferable design process. Within her practice she enjoys blurring the boundaries between different material media, but also important to her is engaging with people and communities and the process of uncertainty and discovery that creates.
She reflected: “That's what my practice is all about, just being able to apply the same thinking in different spaces. The products that I've done at the RCA – it's been textiles, it's been furniture, it's been material development, it's been ceramics and jewellery. But the thinking is about the process, and how you translate that idea from one to the other.”
Summing up her experience of the Design Products programme, Rashmi commented: "It's a perfect playground to explore anything and everything you want, as long as you have a reasoning as to why you're doing something."