Want to know a sure-fire way to make time go faster? Watch a video of Apical Reform’s kinetic art. By the time you surface from the mesmerising depiction of precision and movement, lockdown will be over (hopefully).
Apical Reform is a bespoke design and art lab started by design director and co-founder, architect Darshan Soni and creative director and co-founder Amrish Patel in 2011. Their Ahmedabad-based studio creates three types of art — kinetic, functional and bespoke creations. The artists, however, agree that kinetic art is what creatively satisfies them the most.
Kinetic art is a space not many artists in India dabble into. It is a kind of art that depends on movement for its effect. Thismovement can be produced mechanically by motors or by using the natural movement of air. Soni and Patelachieved one of their goals in 2018, when they showcased their kinetic art at M.A.D, (Mechanical Art Devices) Gallery, Dubai.The art gallery was started by Maximilian Büsser and Friends (MBandF), a company that reinterprets traditional, high-quality watches into three-dimensional kinetic sculptures, of whom Soni and Patelhave always been huge fans. Apical Reform has worked with various clients like W Hotel Dubai, Dubai Design District. for an interactive ‘My Dubai’ public art installation, Dubai International Finance Centre’s Renaissance Hotel, and Emmar to create customised artworks.
At the core of every piece is a spark of inspiration that evolves into a work of art that engages people, evokes emotions. Explaining their design process, the duo gets down to the nitty-gritty of things, “We create a number of static and working models, virtual 3D models, visualisations, animations to get clarity on the concept, proportions and aesthetics. The next phase is to work on details, working models, prototypes, and rigorous testing.” After all that, Apical conducts testing and makes a working prototype, leading to the final kinetic art. The entire process could take from threemonths to a year, depending on the complexity and scale of the artwork.
Speaking of complex projects, they name Stingray as Apical Reform’s most challenging pieces. 1335 moving parts, 144 wings had to be synchronized to replicate the smooth movements of a stingray. Giving the artwork a high-quality finish and perfecting the silent mechanical movement, which is integral to achieving a fluid motion was also a time-consuming detail for the artists.
Apical Reform has a large international client base, and while the founders acknowledge the positive response to their kinetic art in India, the duo says, “We find that certain percentage of people still do not understand the hard work that goes intocreating such pieces and cannot be compared with any other art or the value. We do not find anydedicated gallery or event which supports the kinetic artists of India.”
Theres no escaping the effect the pandemic has had onall industries. For these artists, the pandemic affected the pace and production of the work. “The lockdown last yearprovided us the time to explore concepts, only since the other aspects of design processes were not possible,” say Soni and Patel.
The pair confirms the reveal of several new concepts in 2021, one of them beinga wall hung series of Stingrays and the Serpentine.
Through a process of constant learning, honest inquiry, a deep understanding of the material, environment, and purpose, the founders have carved a niche in the modern art world.