Rajeev Sethi, Chairman & Founder Trustee, The Asian Heritage Foundation
Rajeev Sethi is South Asia’s leading designer and is noted internationally for his innovative contribution to preserving and celebrating the subcontinents 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 cultural industries in an era of industrial mass production and globalization.
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.
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.
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. 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. He is also the Advisor on Legacy Industries in Rural Areas in the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Govt. of India as well as a member of the Central Advisory Board on Culture, Government of India, and on the Board for the Ministry of Tourism.
Mr Sethi is the first Asian artist chosen by Louis Vuitton to create special window installations across the globe as 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 the Art Programme for the new Terminal 2 at the Mumbai International Airport and the Hyatt Chennai Art Collection. He has been Awarded the National order of the Padma Bhushan from the President of India (1985), Foundation Member of the World Academy Art & Science, USA and the first Indira Gandhin Life Time Achievement Award for conservation by INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage) 2010