I remember visiting quite a while ago a small store in New Delhi’s tony Khan Market, on the first floor. Along with its amazing line of home furnishings which revived old school Indian needlework with global inspirations (i.e. French, Moroccan, Portuguese) were the wooden plank shelves which caught my fancy. On inquiring one came to know of the painstaking efforts taken to procure tracks from Indian Railway auctions for their wood which is ideal for furniture, weathered well and very sturdy.
Always expecting such an eye for detail at Sarita Handa now is one-stop-shop for home design, working towards innovation inspired by Indian heritage and craft for a global platform. Established in 1992 the company commemorates its 25 years in design with a two day celebration of art and textile organised at majestic Bikaner House, New Delhi, on 28th & 29th October. 2017.
Rare vintage textiles handpicked over the years from across the globe and their most iconic collections are juxtaposed with notable collaborations. 5 contemporary visionary artists Satish Gupta, Gunjan Arora and Rahul Jain, Arrti Mansinghka, Jeevan Xavier, and Tanuj Ahuja have lent an identity through different mediums to further accentuate the signature Sarita Handa textile art. Hrein, the buzzword ‘sustainability’ is taken to another level by re-purposing fabrics from the company’s archives, creating a kaleidoscope of renewal and regeneration with design, textile and art to celebrate the past and toast to new beginnings.
Mumbai-based artist Arrti Mansinghka reveals facets of the holy river Ganga at Varanasi by recreating its sacred journey on an intricate textile patchwork. She believes “The bar has been raised this time around as we have pre-dominantly used scraps of Sarita Handa textiles. The very diverse nature of fabrics was challenging to put together, as some were embroidered, some textured and some printed or block coloured. By embracing the element of chance, I have tried to uncover the city layer by layer. It brings to life a potpourri for our senses as witnessed on the ghats where millions of diyas (earthen lamps) are lit up on the occasion of Dev Deepavali – a celebration which happens on the fifteenth day after Diwali to honour the most sacred river of the Hindus.”
While Gunjan Arora, Rahul Jain’s partner in textile art, spoke about their recycled cotton and silk yarn artworks depicting mudras or hand-gestures made specially for the event. It recognizes balance of mind and body through five elements of nature as suggested in Indian spirituality. Having worked for a short period with the talented Ms. Handa, he greatly admires her gumption to have started a business at 46.
Indian spirituality or mythology in a unique and contemporary style is represented by the visual artist Tanuj Ahuja with symbols like ‘The Cow’ and ‘The Lotus’. His vibrant hues and intelligent use of Sarita Handa fabrics conveys the journey of the maker and her creations in two surreal artworks – ‘Continuance’ and ‘The Cow – A Giver’. Being a part of her team for nearly two decades, this is a tribute to Sarita Handa herself – the lady behind this sophisticated brand.
Also participating is Sarita Handa‘s dear friend Satish Gupta a renowned Indian artist and sculptor, who with the art of zen and mysticism praises her aesthetics. He revealed “It was a challenge for me to create something light as I am used to making sculptures which weigh 6-7 tonnes. Keeping our forte in mind we decided to work on large scrolls of canvas partially embroidered by the furnishing house. On display are also 3 ink artworks of mine done on paper with clouds as I observed while flying over Bhutan. Like a walk in the clouds it is further rendered with exquisite handiwork on 6 large fabrics.”
Summing up the company’s ethos in a sublime fashion through a film-based series is a Bangalore-based artist Jeevan Xavier. He has highlighted the essential skills of hand crafting each product; a needle pierces through the fabric like a prayer and the labour for the finer details (stitching, embroidery, machine work and handiwork) is shown in slow motion. Earlier a part of Sarita Handa’s design team the workforce is honoured for their expertise which is a catharsis of sorts while living the mundane.
Soaking it all one feels that the creative team at Sarita Handa, Delhi-based textile designer and curator Mayank Mansingh Kaul and Amit Chhabra the designer possibly worked around a famous quote by Interior Designer, Barry Dixon “A room should start a conversation before people actually start exchanging words.”