Crafting immersive cultural narratives to seed humane & resilient futures


Poppy Seed Lab is a creative studio and consultancy that cross-pollinates approaches from strategic design, immersive storytelling, business and innovation research, to seed futures embedded with values of care, community and equity in Asia.Partnership and collaboration lie at the heart of our work. While our primary experiments fall within domains of design, research, culture and strategy, collaborations allow us to traverse domains with ease. Our projects have led us to craft immersive narratives that bring together unlikely agents, design curatorial strategies and stakeholder engagement processes for strategic action, develop programmes for social impact, as well as produce art and performative experiences.At the back end, we follow an approach that is rooted within principles of futures thinking, somatic learning, behavioural economics and systems design. This allows our work to remain relevant and strives towards building a creative ecosystem that is sustainable, and embedded with values of care and community.


Poppy Seed is founded and led by Virkein Dhar, as a life-long experiment in bridging her diverse interests and experiences. An architect and dancer by training, she has worn multiple hats as a designer, researcher, strategist, performer, curator, facilitator and manager, working across disciplines for over a decade.

The Lab's endeavours are supported by a diverse cohort of practitioners and organisations from across design, innovation, art, performance, research, education, writing and culinary practices.

Our Work

While a majority of our projects are self-initiated and produced with partners, our commissioned work is led by innovation consultancies, research organisations and international foundations.


A guide to harness civic imagination that can catalyse forward-looking policy making.

Inclusive Imaginaries is a toolkit to utilize collective reflection and imagination to engage with citizens towards building more just, equitable and inclusive futures. It seeks to infuse imagination as a key process in developing forward-looking policy that can contribute to thought leadership in re-aligning methods for policies, projects and programming to be adaptable to the continually changing needs of people and their contexts. The tools are designed to support facilitators to acquire more locally driven, and culturally contextual visions for policy and programme development.Developed for the Strategy, Policy and Partnerships (SPP) team at UNDP Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific (RBAP).The Inclusive Imaginaries Toolkit and Report sharing learnings from the pilot are available for download here.


Scoping Report on building skills and capabilities of Innovation Managers at ELRHA

ELRHA is a leading global charity finding solutions to complex humanitarian problems through research and innovation, headquartered in London. Aligning with Elrha's commitment to Delivering Transformative Innovation in the Humanitarian System, we partnered with Quicksand Design Studio to analyse, reflect and recommend action towards - enhancing innovation practices to shift from a focus on tools to competencies; adopting non-linearity and plurality in processes; inducing systemic change and interaction between systems; and acting towards inclusion and participation that is cognisant of inherent power and governance structures in their Humanitarian Innovation programs. The Report is available for download here.


SPACE10 is a design and research lab based in Copenhagen. Delhi was their first satellite space and learning outpost, set up with a mission to gain new knowledge and diversify their perspectives - by gathering designers, technologists, artists, architects, academics and entrepreneurs under one roof to explore how design and emerging technologies can create a better everyday life for people and the planet. We developed a strategic programme and facilitated partnerships for SPACE10 Delhi.
more here. (Photo by Sheena Dabholkar)


2 computer controlled lights | kinetic sculpture | water

Vatapi lies at the intersection of art and science, drawing on the transformative qualities of light and the infinite capabilities of reflection. As a constellation of sculpture embedded within a site, Vatapi re-imagines perspective outside of cartesian geometry, and explores ways in which we view our physical world. Co-created with artist and architect, Vishal K. Dar.
(Photo by Aakanksha Kapoor)
watch the trailer.


A learning toolkit for children to transform neighbourhoods into classrooms

Power of Seeing takes children on an exploratory, self-driven journey through their neighbourhoods, with the aim to sensitively connect them to spaces they occupy and enable their participation as citizens in the building of resilient future cities.It comprises a learning toolkit that aims to bridge disconnected parts of a child’s world- the physical spaces that their bodies navigate and the inherent space of imagination and creativity, by using the neighbourhood as a subject and journaling as a learning method. It is designed to incrementally deepen the level of engagement of children with their neighbourhood, broadening the connections to the city and the complex systems that govern it.The toolkit is under development, with partners- Navtej Singh Johar- dancer, choreographer, yoga exponent, scholar and founder of Studio Abhyas; and Amritha Ballal - architect, urbanist and founding partner at Space Matters.


Integrated Development and Revival of the Silk Industry in Jammu and Kashmir

Research and strategy for re-development of the Govt. Silk Factory, Rajbagh, Srinagar, conducted for a conservation and adaptive re-use project by CRCI (India) in JV with andBLACK Design Studio.A multi-stakeholder mapping and assessment across silk industry, craft, culture, agriculture and livelihoods domains in Jammu and Kashmir was carried out, to strategise and design an intervention program at the site. Through field studies and stakeholder consultations, a complex inter-dependent Silk value chain was identified, assessment of gaps and impacts documented, and subsequently an integrated systemic approach for regeneration of the Silk Industry has been proposed.Project was part of the World Bank supported Jhelum Tawi Flood Recovery Program for Jammu and Kashmir Industries Ltd.


A Table | 30 Guests | Taster's Menu |
A Radical Life

An immersive experience of memoirs with food, found documents and music. Table Radica is a food table, an archival table, a listener’s table. It presents the stories of radical lives from Modern Indian Theatre, not just in ways that the world remembers, but also the strife, the precarity and the many vulnerabilities that led to the actions that made them radical. Co-created with performance maker, Amitesh Grover.
More on
(Photo by Radhika Agarwal)


Building futures from the periphery with the city as a site for stories and imagination

A public access platform that share citizens' lived experiences to influence how we can re-imagine future cities to be humane and inclusive.
The approach is rooted in listening without appropriation or translation, in order to view, experience and imagine citizen perspectives, who remain excluded from the city-making process. We intend to archive stories and narratives by people, who document their first-person observations and experiences in the cities they inhabit. More on


Spaces for Creative Encounters

As a response to the absence of a state-led ecosystem that supports artistic innovation and creativity, India is host to a dynamic, people-led movement supporting creative thought and action, within independent spaces.Kahaniyon Ke Ghar (The Homes of Stories) is a research project that documents independently-run innovative spaces for creative encounters in Indian cities. More on the initiative and a crowd-sourced directory is here.


An immersive exhibit that explores the act of violence as an instrument of choice from the perspective of the perpetrator, in an attempt to deconstruct its triggers. (Work In Progress)


Designed to be a prototype of a ‘show in a box’ that creates a dynamic condition of performance, enabling a multi-sensory response that simulates the experience of a ‘show in a space’. It uses the aural medium as the primary narrator, while the settings and situations created by haptic and visual elements within the box, complete the experience of the story.
(Work In Progress)

Get in touch

If you would like to know more, schedule a consultation, or would like to propose a collaboration, write to us at up for updates on our current projects and new initiatives:

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