Look up or down, in this city by the sea, there are stories everywhere. In an attempt to explore its patterned past beneath our feet, duo Aditya Palsule, 33, and Radhika Madhok, 32, set up StoryCity India—an Instagram account that will walk you through Mumbai’s tiled floors in heritage buildings.
Rich colours, geometric patterns and some trivia to go along with it, and you are a step closer to knowing what you so easily walk over. “It was important to create this visual record before these original patterns got lost to history,” says Palsule. “Until we started doing this, we didn’t even know some of these tiled floors were customised,” he adds.
Principal designers at a Mumbai-based graphic design and communication studio, Kahani Designworks, this is also their effort to introduce us to one of the biggest British manufacturer of ceramics, Thomas Minton and Co. “They exported tiles and other ceramics to places all over the world to places such as Australia, USA and Sri Lanka,” says Palsule. “It’s fascinating that we share the same flooring history,” he adds.
So far the account has posts from Elphinstone College, David Sassoon Library, the Rajabai Tower at the Fort Campus of the University of Mumbai, JN Petit Library and the Knesset Eliyahoo synagogue.
Every photograph is re-illustrated and the ‘characters’ — the term they use for shades and patterns — kept as close as possible to the original. “Sometimes the tiles are chipped and dusty, hence the need to recreate,” says Palsule.
Besides working on the visuals, the duo is also interested in knowing what went into arranging a certain pattern. “For instance, in the JN Petit Library, each floor has a different tiling pattern, the reading room on the ground floor is more plain maybe to keep the readers from getting distracted,” says Palsule. “Upon researching, we also realised that the tiles in the synagogue have blue flowers, the colour has symbolic significance for the Jewish community,” he adds. The tiling at CST reveals mechanical patterns, adds Palsule.
Currently, Tiling Bombay is only adding their own photographs but will soon be accepting entries.
“Such accounts only prove that there’s so much to learn from the everyday things,” says Shreya Kukreja, 23, a college student and Instagram follower. “I thought tiling was a mundane task that involved putting some pieces together in a particular pattern and didn’t think there was science involved in this process.”
WHAT: Story City India, an Instagram account that explores tiled floors in Mumbai
WHERE: @StoryCityIndia on Instagram