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Ministry of New

Dutch designer Marlies Bloemendaal opens the creative studio Ministry of New in Mumbai.

By Katie Dominy / 19-12-2013

Situated in the centre of Mumbai, Ministry of New is a new innovative work and event space that founder Marlies Bloemendaal subtitles ‘Work Play Shoot’.

Set in a creative environment, the studio offers desk space with all the latest IT needs, a light and airy exhibition or event venue and thirdly an ideally location for photoshoots. Art direction and photography is one of Bloemendaal’s specialities – with Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and ELLE magazine as recent clients. spoke to Marlies Bloemendaal about the studio and the design scene in India.

Can you tell us what brought you to India? 
“Before I came to India six years ago, I studied arts and graphic design in Antwerp and later started working as a freelance graphic designer and art director. Mostly I worked for publishers, as I became specialised in creating new magazines. I travelled to India many times as my family had some close friends there and Mumbai soon became my favorite destination – I have no idea why. I had a fantastic life in Antwerp but I guess I got bored and needed a new challenge, so 6 years ago I left everything and just took my 20kg suitcase and my laptop six years ago and moved here. This city inspires me still every day; I truly love living here!”

How did you open Ministry of New?  
“I found this old factory two and a half years ago, it was a dodgy dark space without any windows or bathroom - but the size and height of the ceiling was something I knew was really hard to find in Mumbai, so after waiting a year until the landlord gave me a better price, I decided to convert it into the international creative space I thought Mumbai needed. The renovation took me three months, and now it's really great to see that people love the light space and especially love working and shooting here.”

To be successful as a designer in India, are there specific elements that are different from those in Europe? 
“Yes. The most important thing is that you have to be able to build a personal relationship before you can do business with someone and show honest interest and respect. That can take a while, but it's absolutely the key to success.”

How do you see the design market in India evolving?
Indian customers are now worldlier and quite discerning then say a decade ago and are more and more able to understand the value of good design, local and international. European design here still stands for good quality, not only in appearance, but also especially in durability and the quality of the product.  But on the other hand I see an 'Indian design identity' evolving, a fusion of contemporary design with the rich background of traditional arts and crafts. It is very refreshing and it's only a matter of time before Indian design will really stand out on an international platform.”

Who has the studio attracted so far?
“Designers, photographers, journalists, producers. Most are international or international with Indian origins.”

What are your plans for Ministry of New?
“To become the hub for the international creative community here, by creating more events, workshops, exhibitions and photoshoots. Besides running the Ministry of New I work as a freelance producer and art director for editorial and commercial clients. So I do a lot of photoshoots and productions here as well and it has become a popular photo studio for the city.”

Ministry of New can be found at Super Studio, Super Processors Compound, Lalbaug Industrial Estate, Parel, Mumbai.

1 – Ministry of New website
2 – Marlies Bloemendaal
3-5 – Ministry of New
6-7 – Ministry of New photo studio

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