Inside The Dollhouse Project: An Artist's Miniature Comedy-Drama Storyverse

The Dollhouse Project
The Dollhouse ProjectRuchika Nambiar

Ruchika Nambiar, a versatile artist known for her expertise in miniatures, book art, design, and writing, explores a diverse range of media, including artist books, graphic memoirs, dioramas, and interactive social-media stories. As a researcher, her writing delves into cultural philosophy and media studies. Nambiar's passion for experimenting with non-linear storytelling methods led her to discover the unique potential of miniatures in conveying nuanced, three-dimensional narratives. While she also engages with other visual media such as books and illustration, Nambiar emphasizes the unparalleled advantage of miniatures, immersing audiences instantly due to their scale. In an interview with Design India, she describes the process of creating miniature worlds as akin to playing the role of a deity in an alternate universe, a pursuit that has consistently fulfilled her desire for childlike games of make-believe since entering the creative industry.

Ruchika with Little R
Ruchika with Little RRuchika Nambiar

At the heart of Nambiar's creative expression is The Dollhouse Project, an interactive comedy-drama storyverse set in miniature. This captivating narrative unfolds the life of Little R, Nambiar's 5-inch-tall alter ego, through the challenges of miniature life, home ownership, encounters with clandestine robot pigeons, and navigating the complexities of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Little R & Ruchika
Little R & RuchikaRuchika Nambiar

"I found the project to be a fertile ground for exploring and expressing the fluidity of personality and identity. I like playing with the ways in which her experience converges with mine, where it diverges. Especially as the project moves forward, Little R is soon going to develop work of her own, possibly a career (next on her agenda is to earn money of her own — she's currently considering the path towards becoming a corny self-help guru — more on this coming soon!). And so it's a way to channel things that I may never do in my own life — even things I might scoff or roll my eyes at -- and explore them anyway through an alter ego, as if it's someone else's experience. It's almost a form of projected voyeurism, watching a version of myself from the outside", Ruchika shares.

The Dollhouse interiors
The Dollhouse interiorsRuchika Nambiar

Little R's whimsical journey is brought to life through a dollhouse designed in collaboration with Studio Slip, an interior architecture studio. Over six months, Nambiar constructed the house in 1:12 scale, recreating every detail, fostering a genuine client-designer relationship with Studio Slip. The dollhouse boasts a contemporary industrial aesthetic, featuring rammed concrete walls, exposed brick, Jaisalmer flooring, large windows, molded wall panels, cozy window seats, and a grassy courtyard. Noteworthy is the inclusion of a real art collection, where works by global artists like Noel Fielding and Reneé French are reprinted in miniature and framed. The house, designed for photography ease, can be disassembled into four quadrants with removable walls and ceilings, each floor equipped with its electrical wiring.

Little R & Lucifur
Little R & LucifurRuchika Nambiar

Adding a touch of enchantment to the narrative is Lucifur, Little R's furtive feline companion, possibly immortal and with a penchant for tomato ketchup. Lucifur's enigmatic origins and dubious motives are chronicled in his Super Secret Diary of Evil, providing a unique perspective on miniature life and world domination. An extension of the dollhouse project is The Travelling home, a smaller, miniature apartment for Little R so she can travel with Ruchika around the world.

The Travelling Home
The Travelling HomeRuchika Nambiar

Ruchika Nambiar's Dollhouse Project merges storytelling, design, collaboration, and world-building. Little R's miniature journey unfolds within a meticulously crafted dollhouse, a result of a genuine client-designer collaboration with Studio Slip. The design aesthetics, authentic art collection, and intricate details showcase Nambiar's commitment to world-building in miniature. This project transcends conventional storytelling, inviting audiences into an ongoing narrative that celebrates creative expression and the limitless potential of miniature worlds.

Follow Ruchika here and Studio Slip here.

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