Godrej India Culture Lab - Mumbai's Idea Factory


‘In 2009, I was selected as TED Fellow and the ideas I saw there blew my mind. TED was held across three days. However, I thought it should go on all the time; like a constant brain massage 24 hours a day, 365 days a year! That’s when we created a platform where we could cross-pollinate ideas across disciplines, industries and geographies.’ says ParmeshShahani, Head, India Culture Lab.

Although brief, Mr. Shahani’s is the best description for the Godrej India Culture Lab. Right from non-profits to corporates &creatives to academia, just about everyone has come together to collaborate and share ideas on this platform. As the Culture Lab concept has grown, it has changed paradigms about how people from different walks of life come together to create an alternative intellectual hub in the suburb of Vikhroli in Mumbai at the Godrej Headquarters. The Culture Lab has contributed to the larger design thinking process around innovation at the Godrej group and its insights and inputs have resulted in and shaped several Godrej group efforts.

Last December, they hosted the largely successful Vikhroli Skin, a pop-up style event that saw artists, musicians, technologists, scientists and designers show off their work to the general public in a massive warehouse. There were 3D printer demonstrations, film screenings, cool visual projections, taxi art and even a live soap making demonstration among others.

‘Having a constant conversation is important,’ says Mr. Shahani when we ask him about what the Culture Lab is up to after Vikhroli Skin. ‘Whether it is a Vikhroli Skin, a book reading or a film screening, we make sure that we are consistently engaging people with ideas. For instance, we regularly play host to Friday Fundas, a speaker and performer series that has gotten quite popular in the city.'

Who are the audiences for these events? ‘We have people from all over the world attending the Culture Lab. Just a while back, students came all the way from Bangalore just to listen to MIT economist Abhijit Banerjee in one of our events. And then there are our videos. People watch our videos globally. Essentially our work is changing perceptions about what this city can do. There is literally nothing quite like it.’ he says proudly.

That brings us to the final question – what’s next for the India Culture Lab? ‘Many such activities fizzle out with time. But we don’t intend on stopping. We’re very confident about continuing and staying around in the long run. You’ll see more pop-ups, film clubs, book clubs and events of different sizes in the near future.’

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