Robb Report (USA)

Gira Sarabhai



SARABHAI WAS BORN into a prominent family in India in 1923 and moved to New York when she was a teenager. In the following years, she trained under Frank Lloyd Wright at his Taliesin West studio in Arizona, then returned to India to create the project that she’ s best known for: the National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad. The architect was a cofounder of the institute, along with her brother—the two collaborat­ed on the design of the campus’s main glass-andconcret­e building (pictured). Sarabhai was instrument­al in enticing talent from abroad to join the new school as consultant­s, including Finnish designer Helena Perheentup­a, who set up NID’s textile department. Sarabhai helped create an Indian design identity, as the academy not only preserved the past—she stocked its library with important works from the country’s history—but also nurtured young talent for the future. NID still operates today, as does her Calico Museum of Textiles, which houses an extensive collection of Indian fabrics.

pas“Gira Sarabhai, who sed away earlier this year, was a visionary in Indian design education, modern architectu­re and research. She achieved too much in her life to put in one or two sentences, so I would have to focus on something I got to experience: the National Institute of Design campus. Walking through the campus as an outsider, I couldn’t help but feel jealous of the students who got to live and learn in such an incredible space. While she is credited with having brought numerous global design icons to India as it transition­ed to being an independen­t nation, she is no less an icon herself through the impact she has had and will have over the future of Indian design.” —Urvi Sharma, Indo

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