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Indian designs showcased in Paris

world Updated: Sep 06, 2008 12:27 IST
Highlight Story

Six young Indian designers on a common quest to marry ancestral tradition with contemporary design are being showcased at Europe's biggest home fair in Paris this week.

Chosen "to honour the flourishing creativity of India", as the Maison and Objet trade fair put it, the designers from different parts of India said helping communities maintain crafts in today's economic context too was key to their work.

Ayush Kasliwal from Jaipur, for instance, recounted in an interview how he had helped villagers -- in Sultana, northern Rajasthan -- who during centuries had made wire bird-cages, to survive and find new markets.

"When I went there only five people were still making bird-cages," he said. He offered them computer-drafted designs for contemporary-style wire stools. "Now 300 people are doing this."

Similarly, with poverty on the march in India, wood carvers once responsible for the time-consuming labour behind intricate temples were unable to make ends meet, so Kasliwal provided their children with quick money-spinning designs enabling families to survive and carvers to carve.

Textile artist Varsha Sharma, based in the western city of Ahmedabad, who supplies Conran as well as Indian stores with hand-embroidered, hand-painted prints, said her street-art eight euro (10 dollar) cushions featuring Bollywood stars were painted by a handicapped rickshaw driver.

"Now he too earns his livelihood."

Puneet Brar, who also sells to Conran and Habitat, draws inspiration for her clay pots "from India's rural tales and legends."

Each of her objects, made on the outskirts of Pondicherry from clays found across India, is individually sculpted and shaped by a team of people trained in-house.

"We create products we want to live with, without compromising beauty for utility," she said, adding that she hoped one day to sell her ancient-looking items exclusively on Internet.

Also invited to the Paris show were a pair of design newcomers who use traditional metal-working and embroidery techniques to create brass objects laced with wire sequins and beads -- Kapil Mathur and Shilpa Budhiraja based in New Delhi.

Though set up little more than a year ago they produce 1,000 kilos of brass a month.

Also turning to tradition to produce up-market designs, Jigisha Patel in western Gujerat creates felt-made carpets and other pieces while Gunjan Gupta in New Delhi produces up-market furniture embellished in gold leaf, reinterpreting ancestral tradition.