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Well! It surprised me to find Rahul Sharma’s Santoor (ancient string musical instrument native to Jammu and Kashmir, with origins in Persia) vadan more appealing than christmas carols while writing about Anjali Rana Design, this christmas. In hindsight, I noticed how she too had deliberately taken the best of both contemporary and traditional worlds to recreate the romance of Kashmir but on home linen and felt rugs. So while enjoying the winter sun during the Dastkar Kashmir Handicrafts Mela in New Delhi lately, I dug deeper into Anjali’s inner realms. 

While following her passion trail, after doing Fashion Designing from NIFT she enrolled for Textile Designing at NID, Ahemdabad. It was here that she got involved on a project with the regional artisans in Mundra, Gujarat, and learnt of a possibility to fuse felt seamlessly and give it paper-like raw edges. These are now incorporated in this line of rugs with the help of highly skilled Kashmiri craftsmen. So she humbly gives due credit to them by naming this collaborative effort ‘Mohabbat’ – since its everyone’s prime reason for taking on the design journey with her. Lucky enough, even at her first job in an export house for 8yrs, she was encouraged to explore prints and embroideries.

To me, her stylized rosettes of the region’s flora and fauna and architectural mehraab resemble popular mughal motifs which are made appealing with the ‘ari’ embroidery (done by a pen-like needle which resembles a crochet needle). These felt rugs and cotton duvets are like pieces of art which I’d like to display in the most unconventional ways, in my house. Also her choice of earthy colours varying between the likes of green, blood red, phirozi (turquoise), gold, brown, gulabi (fuschia pink) and natural white makes them all the more beautiful.

Felt, I was informed, is a textile which is interestingly produced by fusing woolen fibres. This laborious task is taken up by the men folk who’ve adapted the technique from the Altaic nomads of Eurasia, the Turks and Mongols. They apparently make the most of felt till date, with clothing and tents to keep them warm during the sub-zero temperatures, outside their dwellings.

All this creativity wouldn’t have surfaced without complete abandon achieved through slow holidaying and design school training. It actually threw open this New Delhi based reticent designer’s soul and mind to exciting new possibilities. Music which catches her fancy does help in chilling, but the popcorn time on Sundays is the real aphrodisiac as she devours each and every frame; absorbing art through the lens of some fabulous directors.

Since every great dream begins with a dreamer I am hoping she’ll develop the intrinsic qualities of as many indigenous crafts from the world over, with much chutzpa!

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