Rajeev Sethi is South Asia’s leading designer and is noted internationally for his innovative contribution to preserving and celebrating the subcontinent’s rich cultural heritage. For more than 35 years, through his work in design and architecture, performances and festivals, exhibitions and publication, policy and program, he has identified ways to bring contemporary relevance to traditional skills of vulnerable artisan communities and creative professionals. With innovative positioning and proactive interventions he has created a basis for the maintenance of time honored legacy industries in an era of industrial mass production and globalization.

Mr. Sethi has moved effortlessly from one discipline to another with his consistent vision for cross cultural and intermedial curatorial and scenographic practices creating some of the most memorable artistic endeavors setting world standards. His formative years were spent in Paris working with Pierre Cardin, and was mentored by designers like Ray and Charles Eames and eminent Gandhians like Mrs Chottapadhya and Pupul Jayakar who encouraged him to direct his talents to India. This also underlies his creation of Sarthi (Friends of artists in need) and The Asian Heritage Foundation, currently working to establish SADAK (The South Asian Design and Arts & Technology Centre), in New Delhi, and the brand ‘Jiyo’ Creative & Cultural Industries Pvt. Ltd. owned by artists and craftsperson of India.

He has designed and curated award-winning exhibitions and events in Asia, Europe, Canada and America, for the United Nations and various international institutions. His three exhibitions for the Smithsonian Institutions in 1985/86 won him the tribute of being referred to as “India’s answer to Diaglieff” from the New York Times art critic John Russell. Two of these exhibitions, Aditi and The Mela, were perhaps “the most highly acclaimed exhibitions in the history of the Smithsonian”. The third, a path-breaking exhibition, The Golden Eye at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Museum of Design, New York, brought leading Western architects together with traditional Indian craftsmen to create unique prototypes for a global marketplace. He returned to the Smithsonian in 2004 to scenograph the unprecedented Silk Route Festival involving artists in over 22 countries.

Among other accomplishments of Mr. Sethi are his works with the legendary Joan Littlewood on film and events, and two documentaries for the BBC and was the artistic advisor to Peter Brooks Mahabharata. He has created and directed the play India! Mother-Daughter, Father-Son on traditional systems of transmission for Ariane Mnouchekine and the Theatre Du Soleil in Paris and in India. Mr. Sethi has worked with environmentalists and crafts persons in 30 different countries to create the 70,000 square-foot multicultural Basic Needs Pavilion, which the German press hailed as the apex of EXPO 2000/Hannover (the Year 2000 World Fair in Germany).

Mr. Sethi was appointed the chief scenographer, goodwill ambassador and member of the Senate committee for the Universal Forum of Cultures 2004 at Barcelona. He also conceived, designed and produced a participatory installation titled Sky of Aspirations, Tree of Life micro credit workshop developed in several continents and installed in Barcelona.

In 2002-2004, Mr. James Wolfensohn, President-World Bank invited him to act as “mentor and prime mover of the Bank, towards policies to integrate support for culture as an intrinsic part of poverty reduction and development of arts, crafts and design industries in developing countries”.

In 2006-2007, Mr. Sethi steered a Task Force for Cultural and Creative Industries in the Planning Commission Govt. of India, submitting a three-volume comprehensive blueprint of the creative sector, “Past Forward – Future of India’s Creativity.” He has also been on the Board of Directors of the Central Cottage Industries and the Advisor to rural Industries in the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, and on the Board for the Tourism Ministry, Govt. of India. He is a member of the Central Advisory Board on Culture, Government of India.

He has conceived and curated numerous installations and displays combining various media as well as created and designed special art works installations and architectural spaces around India and different parts of the world.

Mr Sethi is the first Asian artist chosen by Louis Vuitton to create special window installations across the globe as a part of an on-going creative exchange, positioning traditional practices of skilled communities of India – on an international platform. Among his other on-going projects are directing the Art Programme for the new Terminal 2 at the Mumbai International Airport and the Hyatt Chennai Art Collection

Awards and Positions
  • Awarded the Sanskriti award for the field of outstanding social and cultural achievement (1980)
  • Awarded the National order of the Padma Bhushan from the President of India (1985)
  • Awarded the Honour Summus Medal by Watumull Foundation USA for design (1987)
  • Designer of the Year, Interior Design - the Publication's Inaugural award (1992)
  • Honoured by the Federal Republic of Germany with the “Order of Merit” (2001)
  • Artisan Advocate by Aid to Artisans, USA (2004)
  • Foundation Member of the World Academy Art & Science, USA
  • The First Indira Gandhi Life Time Achievement Award for conservation by INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage) 2010
Publications and Outreach Yeh Bhumi-silent majority on site specific solutions for communally contentions sites, Aditi-celebration of rites of passage in Rural India, Smithsonian Press. Touche-multi disciplinary exploration on intangible heritage, Sanjha Safar-federalism in India, Sangram Aur Azadi-intermedial event on India’s first freedom struggle

Lectured in Universities and Forums around the world including Princeton, Harvard, IITs, Design Institutes, International Conferences etc.


Address: Rajeev Sethi, Chairman & Founder Trustee, The Asian Heritage Foundation
T-112, Ward No 6, Aam Bagh
Mehrauli, New Delhi 110030
Tel. No. +91 11 2664 3984/5/6/7 Fax No. +91 11 2664 3988
Email: mail@asianheritagefoundation.org;
rajeev@rajeevsethi.com;
www.rajeevsethi.com
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The Asian Heritage Foundation (AHF) is a not for Profit, non aligned organization whose concerns encompass the public affairs, arts and sciences of all regions of Asia. This syncretic, cross-sectoral approach is imperetive at a junture when many Asian nations are attempting to put differences aside and forge closer economic, poilitical and social ties with their neighbours.

Established in 1995, the Foundation invests its resources towards the following:
  • Exploring new paradigms of growth using Asia's treasure house of skills, catalyzing design-led initiatives
  • Research & Documentation, training & transmission, promotion & conservation of continent's diverse heritage
  • Initiating Asian collaboration, involving civic society in cross
  • Cultural dialogue
  • Supporint gprojects that reconcile existing frictions between people, technology and nature
  • Guiding transitions of small producers & microenterprises into self sustaining 'creative industries'


Madhubani craft cluster
At the Asian Heritage Foundation
Tensegrity lamp
Patua artist workshop for Sanja Safar
 
Sam Pitroda and Raghu Rai at the Jiyo pre-launch party
Sheela Dixit, Chief Minister of Delhi with Sandeep Dixit and Rajeev Sethi
Malavika Sarukkai with Rajeev Sethi
Director General of ICCR, Dr. Karan Singh and Rajeev Sethi
Workshop
Workshop
Kalamkari craft cluster
Guntur food cluster
Rajeev Sethi Scenographers (RSSG) is a private limited company offering wide-ranging design services marked by an inter-disciplinary process spanning craft skills, performance arts, new media, liberal arts and archietecture in a way as to best utilise the heritahe resources of this country towards cutting-egde design-led entrepreneurship.

Focus Areas:
  • Curration, commission and creation of art for public and private spaces positioned in airports, hospitality industry, social renewal projects.
  • Scenography and content development of festivals, events and major platforms of cross-cultural exchange.
  • Product design and development of performing arts formats using time-honoured indigenous skills, materials and traditions creating value for new markets.
  • Mapping, research and documentation services.


Rajeev Sethi with Namita Saraf for Art at Hyatt
Rajeev Sethi at Vibha Galotra's studio
Rajeev Sethi
Julie Tamor and Rajeev Sethi
Gautam Adani with Rajeev Sethi
Artist workshop held by Rajeev Sethi Scenographers at Mumbai
Rajeev Sethi on site with the MIAL team
Rajeev Sethi on site for the Shantivan Project
Rajeev Sethi in meeting with Andrew Logan and Hyatt team
Rajeev Sethi onsite for Art at Hyatt
RSSG
At the mock-up site Mumbai
Meeting of the Liminus Terminal 2 project, New Delhi