Obituary: H.Y. Sharada Prasad (Sharadaji)

Chatterjee, Ashoke

Sharadaji’s fascination with design probably began as a youth surrounded by the crafts of Mysore. Yet his command of design flowered most when as a journalist and editor, he developed an unfailing eye for design that could intelligently convey the word into the mind. Design for Sharadaji was the sanctity of detail. Words, images and letters carefully chosen and laid out, the avoidance of clutter and fuss --- all this came naturally to him. Indeed, the absence of clutter and fuss was the mark of this extraordinarily ordinary man. So ordinary that even his sons addressed him as Shouri, something I could never bring myself to do in the 40 years or more that I have lived in awe of Sharadaji’s extra-ordinariness. The idea that less is usually more was not just a design fundamental that Sharadaji instinctively understood. It was the life he lived, and the bond he shared with perhaps the greatest design team of the twentieth century, the late Charles and Ray Eames of Los Angeles, the founding spirits of India’s National Institute of Design. Sharadiji was among the first to meet the Eames couple when they arrived in New Delhi fifty years ago on an official invitation to survey the situation of small industries, following the First Five Year Plan. They were to advise on what industrial design might do to assist the sector.  Sharadaji later wrote that Jawaharlal Nehru was attracted to Charles Eames in the way he had been attracted to Le Corbusier. Yet the Eames’ India Report, now a classic of world design literature, baffled the Minister of Commerce & Industry. He ...
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