Friday, October 7, 2016

CRAFT DESIGN, Lecture at NIFT, Navi Mumbai

I think of my teachers more when I am teaching. I consider myself a tad too lucky to have studied under the guidance of design thinkers like MP Ranjan and Aditi Ranjan at NID, particularly when it comes to crafts.

Craft being my favourite area of work, this was my first lecture on CRAFT DESIGN at NIFT, Navi Mumbai. (16th September 2016)

The aim of arranging expert lectures in design institutes is to give students a point of view of how things actually work on field. To show how design as a tool is applied to bring out necessary results, to show a larger picture of how design can create change and sustainability. The process of working with constraints, connecting several dots and extending your own boundaries with every project you work on.

A live design intervention project was given to students as part of their curriculum. The aim was to design commercially viable and market oriented products for crafts namely – Banjara Embroidery of Latur and Wall hangings of Solapur.

Designing for crafts, in my opinion is more about understanding and appreciating what exists. It is easy to pick faults but appreciating the existing is what it takes to keep things together. It is about being profound in one’s approach.  

I supported my lecture with two of my current craft projects.
One – Product design and development for the screwpine mat making craft of Kerala
Two – Embroidery designs for an NGO based in Madhya Pradesh

37 slides to present, 60 students with questions and 180 minutes to discuss – a small step to sensitize students towards designing for crafts.   

Sharing few of the slides from the presentation here…
I like to keep my presentation crisp with keywords, and lot of visuals (not shown here)

Books referred and recommended:
1. Viswakarma's Children by Jaya Jaitley
2. Thinking Design by S. Balaram


For design students and for students of life, here is an intriguing excerpt from one of Kabir’s poems -

Student, do the simple purification.

You know that the seed is inside the horse-chestnut tree;
and inside the seed there are the blossoms of the tree,
and the chestnuts and the shade.

So inside the human body there is the seed, and
inside the seed there is the human body again.

Fire, air, earth, water and space – if you don’t want the secret one,
you can’t have these either.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Ask me about it

Ask me about it

Ask me how is it to love someone who is scared of love?
Ask me how is it to choose black or white but always end up in grey!
Ask me how is it to hopelessly hope?
Ask me how is it to write pages full of conversations you wish you had.
Ask me how is it to be true to your feelings in silence?

Ask me how it feels trying to make things work which were destined to fail.
Ask me how it feels to be touched by someone without touching?
Ask me how it feels to un-love?
Ask me how is it feels to love yourself less?
Ask me how it feels to miss the girl I was before he happened?

Ask me all about it and I shall write poetry.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Let's talk

Let's talk

Not of how much time it took to get home and that the traffic is so bad,
Not of what you and I ate for lunch.

Let’s talk something else..
Like the uncommon things between us, which is everything!

Let’s talk of music, I know that is what you like,
Music of the zephyrs and songs of the birds,

Let’s talk of paintings that make cities beautiful,
Paintings of thoughts and memories.

Let’s talk of the sheer you wear and scent of your hair,
Rays thru the light and whispers thru the dark.

Let’s talk of that one eye lash which falls to rest on your cheek,
That which aspires you to make a wish.

Let’s talk of the fingers and spaces in between.

Let’s talk of you.
Let’s talk of me. 

Friday, September 2, 2016


Lifetime is a myth
Let’s live in moments, however fragile they may be.

when you and me pulled some strings and unknowingly composed a tune,
when you and me thought we were on the same page of a book.

Moments that felt like a dagger piercing into my heart,
Moments that made you feel like love that never was.

Those moments
that have left a little of you inside me
a little of me inside you.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A Different You

A Different You

In the words unspoken
I could hear a different you

In what was kept hidden
I could see a different you

In the thoughts confined
I could feel a different you

In the promises ungiven
I could believe a different you

In you
I could love a different you


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Complementary Impressions

Complementary Impressions

The cacophony of your thoughts have shaped a rhythm in my deeds
The lightening of your feelings has caused rain in my heart

Your dark obsession inspires my creative presence
Dearth of your faith has made a deluge in my fields


Friday, June 10, 2016


What happens when you find something you were not looking for?
Like I found poetry.
Poetry was always there, a stranger to me.

What happens when you find someone you were not looking for?
Like I found you.
You were always there, a stranger to me.

Poetry now is love.
You still a stranger. 


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Disoriented Patterns

More than a month ago, it was Diwali and we (me & husband) saw this Marathi movie Katyar Kaljat Ghusli – a musical masterstroke as it has been reviewed. Indeed a beautiful movie. Many said that if one has seen the original theatrical play then he/she won’t enjoy the movie as much. Thankfully I have not seen the play and I liked the movie. It rarely happens that I like something, especially movies!

The last scene; the final jugalbandi of melody at its very peak has grasped all the viewers to the core; who is going to win and how, is what everyone is thinking but me. What I am doing in this climax situation? I am looking at what Khan saab is wearing. Rather, my eye and mind were forced to look at it. Something was wrong, something was visually disturbing. And exactly that was taking away all my attention from the musical pinnacle to a pattern that had gone wrong!  

Collage of screen shot images from You Tube
Khan saab was wearing a beautiful waist coast brocaded in silk and gold, patterned with bold lotus motifs spread all over on a turquoise blue background. This would have been more beautiful only if the lotuses were oriented in a right direction.
Khan saab being one of the key characters in this scene, it was important to get his jacket made rightly with lotuses oriented in the right direction i.e. straight and upwards. I have never seen lotuses floating horizontally, have you?

I am sure many of us have encountered this kind of pattern disorientation and some have gone unnoticed, especially with local “ladies” tailors who think they know the world or with some cheap garment brands where the front side of your kurta has paisley motifs running upwards and on the back side the paisleys are running downwards. I bet on this!

Then post Diwali, my brother wanted me to accompany him for shopping for his soon approaching wedding day. This is the first time I enter the brand shop called Manyavar – well known for traditional menswear, and we select two sets of chudidar kurta, none of my choice though. I had suggested FabIndia… but….!

Images by Apurva sent via WhatsApp
One of our selections was a gold damask patterned waist coat woven in 100% polyester (not mentioned on the label) I noticed that the maple leaf motifs that composed the damask pattern were disoriented, they were upside down! I know that it is alright for foliage to have any direction, but not in a damask pattern. Okay, maybe this disorientation was a stitching mistake so I asked for another piece of the same kind, but no luck! So my brother had to wear a disoriented maple leaf damask pattern for his pre-wedding ceremony.

Further to this I was thinking that why did an Indian traditional menswear brand make garments with maple leaf damask pattern? What has maple leaves to do with India? Except if you are living in Kashmir and choose to wear this maple damask instead of beautiful traditional hand embroidered Kashmiri pheran on your wedding day!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Remembering MP Ranjan

Afternoon on Sunday 9th August when I received the terrible news from a friend, there was a sudden void and emptiness. Moments flashed as memories and it was difficult to accept the fact that the always smiling Ranjan is not amongst us anymore. Life is so fragile and unpredictable.
But life goes on…

Photo Credits: Unknown 

My interaction with Ranjan was limited but that little has been significant enough.  

In 2006, when I joined NID as a PG Textile student, we had a 2 week DCC (Design Concepts and Concerns) class with Ranjan. That time I was kind of confused and disoriented about its relevance. Now, 9 years later I realize that how his teachings have developed me as a designer and made magic to me as a human being.

Later in 2009, Ranjan was in the Research & Publication panel at NID to review a craft research that I was working on. The feedback he gave me then, is a feedback that I give myself for every new project I work on. A holistic approach, multidimensional thinking, relativity of various methods, necessity and consequences of decisions, social and ecological impact etc. are some ways in which Ranjan’s teachings helped me evolve as a designer.

Ranjan – a design thinker and believer, a teacher, an encyclopedia within himself - was, is and will always be an inspiration. He will be missed by the entire design fraternity.

Here I think of few lines by Khalil Gibran on teaching:

The teacher who walks in the shadow of the temple, among his followers, gives not of his wisdom but rather of his faith and his lovingness.
If he is indeed wise he does not bid you enter the house of his wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Know your Paithani, Dear Maushi

Dear Maushi,

This letter has long been pending and I thought today being the first National Handloom Day is an appropriate day to write. Thank you to GOI for marking such a day!

Firstly, I must tell you that you really boast my ego when you send pictures of your recently developed art and craft products or newly bought saree for my review! I feel that my little enthusiasm for textiles has seeped into the family as well. It is a nice feeling!

About a month back you shared some images of a Paithani saree you were gifted. Thank God it was a gift and you did not spend your earnings into that fake Paithani! But I feel depressed about the whole scenario that the person who bought it had no knowledge that she is buying a fake one and moreover the person who sold it is also unknown or has misguided purposely.  I know it is very difficult for a lay man to know the difference between the authentic and fake especially in the market today where there is a duplicate of almost everything. Polyester is sold as silk, print is sold as ikat and a jacquard is sold as paithani!

This is not Paithani!
Photographs sent on whats app by Mihir. 

I remember ajji’s paithani that you have. What a beauty she is! The fine interlacing of silk and pure gold… indeed a rate treasure!

As you know the most promising part in a paithani is its pallu decorated with motifs of peacocks, parrots, lotus’ amongst others and peacock being the most favourite. It will also be nice to know and acknowledge the tedious labour involved in the making of it, the skilled craftsmanship and the tradition which has seen centuries turn by.

Here are some pictures of making of the paithani, though these make no justice until the process is described in detail. But I do not intend to convert this letter into a thesis on Paithani!


 Photographs by Haris Pathirikodan at Aurangabad, Maharashtra

Unlike the rosogulla that is going through a debate on whether the GI rights are to be claimed by West Bengal or Orissa, the Maharashtrian Paithani has received its GI rights long back in 2010. These rights not only confirm the geographical area but also the historical origin, appropriate process of making and uniqueness of the craft.

The weaving of a paithani is such that it can be woven only on a handloom and not on a power loom.  It is difficult to give a brief explanation. So here are some basic specifics by which you can identify an authentic paithani:

1.     The motifs on the pallu have same color on the front and back side
2.     The pallu is a flat and even surface. No variation in thickness.
3.     No threads at the back side of the pallu are cut.

Traditionally, a paithani sari has motifs woven on the border and pallu both.  Keeping in mind affordability, revisions have been made where the motifs appear only on the pallu.

When you buy a traditional handloom saree, you not just buy a piece of cloth; you invest in the age old heritage of India and you sustain the second largest employment sector of our country. Isn’t that a wonderful feeling already?

Hope this letter inspires you enough to share the idea of identifying, buying  and using authentic traditional handwoven textiles.

Ending this letter with a poem by the weaver-poet Kabir

Weaving Your Name

I weave your name on the loom of my mind,
To make my garment when you come to me.
My loom has ten thousand threads
To make my garment when you come to me.
The sun and moon watch while I weave your name;
The sun and moon hear while I count your name.
These are the wages I get by day and night
To deposit in the lotus bank of my heart.

I weave your name on the loom of my mind
To clean and soften ten thousand threads
And to comb the twists and knots of my thoughts.
No more shall I weave a garment of pain.
For you have come to me, drawn by my weaving,
Ceaselessly weaving your name on the loom of my mind.