She’s one of those rare few, who embody the philosophy they endorse. Meet Anabelle Viegas, the cheerful lady behind Bangalore’s coolest experiment – Think Happy Everyday.
Anabelle was 10 when she first wanted to be a designer. At the time she lived on the Karwar coast amidst a family of seafarers. Her journey towards design took her first to Bangalore, then to London – on a Goa Education Trust Scholarship to pursue Masters in Urban Design at The Bartlett School of Architecture – and back to Bangalore again as a full-fledged architect and urban designer.
It’s where she co-founded Think Happy Everyday (THE) with her husband Craig D’mello. Besides teaching at BGS School of Architecture & Planning, 29-year-old Anabelle heads Research at THE, while Craig is the Chief Happy Maker, and another rather interesting story that will be told another day.
For now, join us for a conversation with Anabelle Viegas…
IB: What ethos define your designs?
Anabelle: I believe that user experience is paramount in the Anthropocene; as a designer, you have the power to alter experience and hence lives. I use the pace of technology, the tangibility of material and the power of scale to create experiences, interventions and interactions.
IB: How did the idea for THE Workshop come about?
Anabelle: After my first week at UCL, working at one of the best university workshop facilities in the world, I realised the influence and inherent need of a hands-on approach to design. It opened a whole new world of thinking and to experience and experiment, break barriers and rewire the way design happens. Hence, THE Workshop is the design research initiative of Think Happy Everyday. It’s a place where you can make and do the things that matter.
IB: Tell us about some interesting projects and workshops you’ve taken on at THE.
Anabelle: Interesting and needed are two ways we evaluate our work. This being said CREATIVE CODING was one of the most intense and needed workshops we conducted.
We did a series of events around the topic drawing participants from across the industry. The most interesting workshop was ‘The Mysterious Case of the Talking Chair’, bridging the gap between physical UI and digital experience, linking coders to furniture designers.
Amongst projects, Synesthesia was our introduction to the world – an interactive installation, built on a digital platform, computationally generated and that focused on materiality and user feedback loops. The response was immense; the best being the kids thought they were in Avatar.
Our largest audience at THE Workshop is millennials; they exist at the intersection of technology and experiential design, and this is exactly where THE Workshop is, so in some ways you can say that THE Workshop is a millennial too.
IB: We heard about the mysterious Christmas Tree that played music…
Anabelle: The brief for this project was one line – ‘WE NEED A CHRISTMAS TREE’, from this was born The Architecture of Giving. The Christmas tree stood as a statement of community, togetherness and TIME itself.
Wired to the tee, the tree responded to people spending time together, PVC transformed to musical joysticks, traditional green plastic foliage was drawn through asparagus plants, each donated and taken care of by a family of the community.
The tree lit up as people came together and played the PVC pipe organs. The pinnacle of the project was that it was all built by the youth (millennials) of the community – giving their time to each other over the season, hence the Philosophy of The Architecture of Giving.
IB: Considering the learning curve and the stakes involved, how has the experience of running a start-up been for you?
Anabelle: As life is seemingly easier in the world today, living is not so, and perseverance is the name of the game. Running a start-up – while ours is still a very traditional start-up since we are self-funded, is more demanding than it seems.
I strongly believe in our ideology ‘Think Happy Everyday’ and this is our approach to work at THE office, hence, the experience has been enriching and rather surreal. I feel like Arthur Dent in The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy.
IB: Your research project during M.Arch in London dealt with 3D printing. How do you see the technology affecting design platforms in India?
Anabelle: Design has moved beyond the drawing board a long time ago, with the advent of advance CAD/CAM, 3D printing, robotics, material manufacturing and computational design methodologies. Design is now digitally led, research driven, and built from the ground up, involving multiple systems and disciplines blurring the lines between human, machine and material.
IB: Any wise words for millennials?
Anabelle: I have two philosophies to share:
1. Think happy everyday
2. Why live in a world where you make do with things, when you can MAKE & DO things?
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