How do you break free of the clutter in the home products market? Radhika Singhi has travelled deep into rural India to deliver something new to her clients at her studio, Threads. Shes an ardent fan of indigenous handicrafts and has used techniques like dokra, kalamkari and batik in her line of home accessories.
At the store, Singhi offers everything for the home from bedspreads to cushion-covers, curtains, lampshades, throws, mats and runners. And more recently, she expanded her range and is also doing furniture, bridalwear and jewellery. Shes even planning to take part in LIFW 2009.
Singhi had no formal training in designing but she started out with a deep interest in textures and handlooms. She also figured it was important to help preserve Indias handicrafts by turning them into fashionable products.
I found Santiniketan fascinating. There was a wealth of handicrafts which I discovered in the villages outside Bolpur. The dokra work and the terracotta that I saw there was truly impressive, she says. From there she travelled further afield to check out kalamkari in Andhra Pradesh. Singhi quickly found a gifted craftsman in Vizag who is now a regular supplier.
Singhi began her experiments with designing early in life, mostly for friends and family. She also kept her other passion — cooking — alive, even after her marriage to Beni Singhi in 1990. Though she now exports garments and some home accessories to Australia, UK and the US, she also is busy getting her collection together for LIFW 2009.
Shes pouring heart and soul in the collection for LIFW 2009. The collection has Ganga as its theme and is about the many moods of the river. While its turbulent at the source, its sad, polluted and greying when it meets the sea, Singhi says.
In October she will be participating in Brides and Grooms, a high profile fashion show to be held in Bangkok. Shes also planning a larger store-cum-studio, to showcase her own work as well the creations of other designers.
Surface ornamentation is Singhis forte and she applies it to almost all her products. Be it a simple paper lamp shade or a lush velvet throw, she loves intricate embellishments.
Also, Singhi is fond of muted colours — beige, cream, rust, brown and pale green — for her home accessories. She usually uses cotton, linen or jute but occasionally also works with fabrics like net and chiffon when she is doing high-end curtains, throws and runners.
Singhi often does entire trousseaus for young brides. Going beyond clothes she designs bed linen and home accessories for them.
The fun, she says, lies in the embellishments. On cushions (mostly in cotton but sometimes in velvet) she adds on everything from leather strips to shells or beads. Then, there are jute mats embellished with wool, patchwork or leather strips. The curtains are often made of net and come in shades like beige with delicate embroidery on the hem. I am a great follower of Zen. So I am all for the muted and minimalistic style in home décor, she says.
She insists that its important to keep up with international trends by reading magazines. But, in the final analysis, she says that one must follow ones own instincts.
Her pricing is fairly modest and she insists that she has something for all budgets. While the cushions with maal embroidery or kalamkari come for Rs 1,000 each, a luxurious white, cutwork bedcover costs Rs 5,000. A set of curtains (two panels) costs around Rs 10,000. When made of crepe the pocket pinch would be in the region of Rs 15,000.
A set of six table mats will cost Rs 2,000. The ceiling panels (that could be hung from the ceiling or simply cover it) or are usually custom-made and come for around Rs 5,000 apiece. Lampshades would again range between Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,500.
Singhi is also making upmarket furniture. A teak table with marble inlay costs Rs 80,000.
The bridalwear range — thats the saris and lehengas — are in the price bracket of Rs 15,000 to 20,000 depending on the embroidery and detailing. Singhis range of dresses, kurtis and jackets — made on jute and linen with lots of terracotta, dokra, jute and wool embellishments — range from Rs 6,000 to Rs 12,000.
Her neckwear, though is in bright blues and pink, with leather strips, jute, pieces of wool and fabric used for dressing them. They are priced at Rs 800 apiece.
Photographs by Rashbehari Das