Of Dollhouses and Design

A few days ago, I was talking to a friend about a dollhouse I’d had when I was eight years old. How the two months I spent with my aunt putting together the house changed the way I thought and was partly responsible for my choosing to make a profession of design. This may sound a little ridiculous, so I’ll explain.

Like a lot of eight year old girls, I loved dolls. I spent a lot of time making up stories and my dolls went to bed at night, woke up in the morning and lived their lives. So naturally, they needed a house. Fifteen years ago, it wasn’t easy to find a very large variety of toys in India. A lot of the ones available were far too expensive. Either way, buying a doll house wasn’t an option. So for the eight weeks of my summer vacation, my aunt spent most of her time furnishing my doll house. And it wasn’t just any house. It was complete with bookshelves lined with miniature books, beds with quilted mattresses and pillows, windows with curtains that I could draw back and forth, clocks, shelves, rugs, lamps and even a bathroom with a separate shower area. It was beautiful. Every single thing in that house was made of junk lying around my aunt’s apartment. (in retrospect, I realize just how much junk there must have been!) For those eight weeks, I looked at absolutely everything differently. The lids of tic tac boxes became trash cans, aluminum foil became mirrors, razor-blade-boxes became shelves. It was no longer important what I used, what was important was what it became. Every single thing I saw had tremendous potential.

Which made me wonder…what happens as we grow up? I wonder why imagination becomes a smaller and smaller part of the creative process. I wonder when I started looking at things as what they actually were rather than what they could have been. That thought really bothered me. So every now and then, I try to look at things the way I did when I was eight. As potentially phenomenal.

Unfortunately, I don’t have photographs of the house. I don’t think anyone really thought of it as worth one of thirty six images on a roll of film. But I’ve attached a few images of things I remember making. Let your imagination loose..look at them the way an eight year old might. Image

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