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.


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Friday, July 3, 2015

Concept Art

It’s been more than a year we have moved to an actual studio space. Before that, I used to work my design from home and Mahesh did his art from a not so studio place in Mira Road. This new studio is now one year young and it is like a baby for us that needs complete attention for proper growth.

The location is slightly difficult to trace for the first time visitors, so I made this map to ease the search. Ofcourse! Google maps also locates Concept Art!

As the name suggests, it is an art studio with a significant place for design as well :)
Have a look at Concept Art’s website to know what exactly we do and let this map guide you to reach us!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

for the love of books

Part of my design book shelf

“Why have you stopped blogging?”, is a question I am asked often.  It feels very stupid to say that I don’t find enough time. Well today, I have pulled out time to share my systematically planned love for books :)

Whenever I tell someone that I bought this particular book, the first reaction is – Oh! Books are so expensive! Then I think, isn’t buying a car, expensive? Isn’t Prada or a Gucci expensive? Isn’t a body shop product expensive? Then why exclamations only for books?!
You change your car when it gets old, but old books are rare treasures. You need to take care of your branded products, but books take care of you. Books never get over; in turn they keep filling you up. Then, I am also asked questions like why books when all information is available on the internet? Better leave the question, unanswered! How shall I explain that a book is an experience and cannot be browsed on the internet!

I was never a good reader nor am I one today. But I enjoy reading. And recently I have started enjoying it more. It is kind of magical. It is like love. Like Maurice Sendak says:

“A book is really like a lover. It arranges itself in your life in a way that is beautiful.”

This is what exactly the books have done to me.

I started making my own little library since 2007. I would buy 1 or 2 books a year from my saving. This little library took a pause for a few years when paying bills would take up every bit. Then things started taking shape and it was time to focus on my library. As Rome was not built in a day, similarly a library needs years of hardwork and passion. It needs a systematic plan of investment. Since more than a year now, I have made it a point to buy one book every month. One thing I learnt differently from the SIP’s or the EMI’s is that an SIP for books is definitely exciting and enriching one! It is an investment where you get unlimited returns forever.

Past year, I have mostly bought design books – textile design in particular. Few I have purchased from the fountain market, few from flipkart/amazon and few from craft exhibitions. Few books I already had in mind since my studies at JJ and NID and few are the ones I stumbled upon client’s desk.
With Picasso, Dali, VanGogh and Klimt already on shelf, art is a completely different treasure to explore. And now my wishlist of books is never ending.

“So many books, so little time.”
-        Frank Zappa

This is so true!

In 2013, I happened to attend a poetry reading session at the Kalaghoda festival where contemporary poets like Ranjit Hoskote, Jerry Pinto, Mustansir Dalvi, Christine Herzer and many more read their poetry. I never knew poetry would be so much more magical! Since then, I have explored a bit of Neruda, Gibran and few Indian anthologies. I love getting lost in Neruda’s …
Here is an excerpt from love sonnet xvii:

I love you without knowing how, or when or from where,
I love you directly without problems or pride:
I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love
except in this form, in which I am not nor are you,
so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,
so close that your eyes close with my dreams.