The Hand Made Tale with Kaisori

"Each textile has multiple stories woven into them from their history to the way a brand enhances them. Creativity isn't just about making products and selling them. It's about how you design your process and involve the right people."

Tell us about the first artisan you worked with and how your relationship with them evolved over time.

Working with artisans evolves your design journey as an artist. It is an amalgamation of your creative pursuits to push an idea and their skillset to bring alive a vision. Most of our work is an amalgamation of our designs with textile prints of specific craft communities to create a new design identity using crafts only. The best part is, dealing with people who are grounded and close to the earth, have opened my eyes to a different sort of reality. Every day is a new experience. I learnt so much that I didn't know before, no job or education could teach me that. There is no inequality here. I feel education and "culture" as we think of it today, makes people judgemental and creates inequalities. While the unadulterated people who spin the wheel or use their hands to create beautiful products out of earth using natural dyes, natural materials while maintaining balance, creating a sustainable environment, which are all hygiene factors and not marketing gimmicks, are truly empowered.

One of my first product designs was to create a perfect amalgamation of art and beauty together in the form of Kaisori beauty range from Kashmir. Our products are completely handmade with all natural ingredients from the Kashmir valley. We don't use any chemicals and work with packaging that is completely plastic free.

The packaging style is all original artwork commissioned to a local miniature painting artist inspired by the Chitrashala in the Bundi Fort. A characteristic of this style, beauty, is depicted with a graceful, feminine form and lotus eyes – she who is one with the magic of nature. We worked with the artist to create a different interpretation of his art and adapt his miniature painting to appeal to larger canvas of society. For example, like a book cover design. This has encouraged him  to work towards defining a new visual language for an art form that is almost 400 years old.

Communication and collaboration play a key role in developing prints and textiles. How do you translate the same through your finished products?

Any creation is a collaborative process. An amalgamation of creative minds and best practices to develop a story. Be in terms of a design process or application of  a craft or even a technique. In this case, the terms designer and creator can be used interchangeably. Which opens up the possibility to work on various permutations relevant to the designs story and choose the best fit for the craft.

Every craft has defined and undefined boundaries. We learn and unlearn during the process, when creating the story. Our work with artisans help us in planning projections of a story better. Through creation of  a unique design language we celebrate artisanal imperfections. That to us is the most amazing aspect of collaboration. The sheer joy of bringing a story alive and the fluidity of crafts to adapt and find a unique presentation to any idea.

Sustainable brands use "Handmade with love" and "Handcrafted in India" as standard terms to describe their brands. But in reality, these are more than just words. How does your brand imbibe these terms into the brand philosophy?

Handmade and handcrafted is synonymous when working with crafts and artisans. It’s a way of life and supports livelihoods of India’s second largest employment sector, after agriculture. It’s an ecosystem of artisan and ancillary groups who are also impacted by the value chain. Handmade with love is their efforts to celebrate, cherish and sustain stories of India through cultural interpretations in craft practices using indigenous techniques.

We as a brand also believe in telling stories. Stories of India through art, culture and crafts. We interlace craft stories with weaving techniques to create a unique design amalgamation to support the handmade legacy. For all our stories, crafts is at the core of it all. For example, Kaisori’s new collection ‘Narmada’ is an ode to this divine river that nourished many stories. The holy river Narmada is the form of Goddess Narmada that was blessed by Lord Shiva to be always full and cleanse the sins of those who bath in her water.

This timeless river has lived through conquests, traditions and changing landscapes over centuries. It is a legend in in itself, with glorious kingdoms, ghats and havelis coming up on its banks. It has nurtured life, culture and craft traditions over the ages.

We have imagined her as the powerful narrator of three craft-stories from Madhya Pradesh –Gond art form by Bhils, handspun and handwoven Maheshwari by the Ansari and hand - painted Batik by the Guttis of Ujjain blended into one exquisite, truly one-of-a-kind, saree collection.

Tell us about certain fabrics that you have adapted specially for their imperfections.

We work with mostly handloom fabrics of varied texture, sheen and absorption capacities, all of which impacts its usage and delivery of a creative story in textiles. We determine the fabric based on the story that we will be created. For example, Handloom silk cottons are great for Indigo because of the sheerness and shine of the handloom fabric. That’s our process in the selection of handloom material best fit for the craft.