|Esha Dutt; (right) Sonia Dewan
They love colour and all things bright. So, when good friends Sonia Dewan and Esha Dutt decided to launch Hue done it, a quirky home accessories collection, they decided to make lively shades their mainstay. And they drew inspiration from kitsch art — a revolution that originated in the 19th century against typical forms of valued art.
Hue done it is a story about products that are funky to boot. From milk cans to ladles, bowls, kettles, kadhais, trunks, boxes, watering cans and more, Dewan and Dutt paint each and every item themselves, as their fancy takes them. Since no design is planned, all their paintings are impulsive and spontaneous, and hence, no piece has a lookalike.
Little wonder then that their products were a sellout at their inaugural exhibition last August, as well as at a showing in Park Streets Chemould Art Gallery this April. Clients can place orders for customised pieces.
Soon after completing her graduation in political science from Miranda House in Delhi, Dewan joined Birla Yamaha in 1986, where she worked until mid-1989. During this time, Dewan, now 44, got married and after quitting Birla Yamaha, she moved to Iraq with her husband, who was then working with Oberoi Hotels & Resorts. But they moved back to India in 1991, following the Gulf War, and set up base in Calcutta.
Dewan worked with Romanian Airlines for a year before taking up a year-long diploma in interior design with Jenson & Nicholson in Calcutta between 1992 and 93. After completing the course, she dabbled in stained glass painting, wrought iron designing as well as clay art before taking a long break in 2003. For a long time, I did not want to do anything. I like freedom where my work is concerned, she says.
On the other hand, Dutts creativity stems entirely from instinct. A graduate in English from Presidency College, Dutt worked with a travel agency and Jet Airways between 1989 and 1993, before giving it all up to play full-time mother. Though she did experiment with childrens furniture for two years in 1997 and 98, artwork was never on her mind until Hue done it happened.
We launched Hue done it entirely by accident, says Dutt. While Dewan was toying with the idea of creating a line of products that are spunky and fun, their label materialised when they spontaneously decided to participate in an art exhibition. In fact, Dewan and Dutts collection was the only series that flaunted art on everyday items instead of canvas.
Kitsch art is bold and innovative, and does not require finesse or prior training to practice, says 43-year-old Dutt. At present, she switches between her husbands film production and distribution business and Hue done it.
The friends are planning to retail from lifestyle stores, provided they find the right space for their products. But at the moment they are inundated with orders and have plans for another exhibition around5 Diwali.
According to the duo, in this age of minimalism, a dash of colour always makes a room more interesting. And with the sizes of flats shrinking, a soft décor splashed with vibrant colours works well. They feel that the overall look should be clean and uncluttered, as opposed to ornate designs that can be an assault on the senses.
The idea was to combine art and utility and create a fun package, says Dewan. So, while all the products are bold and kitschy, you can also use them around your home in any way you like. A trunk could serve as a storage box for toys or books in a bedroom, or you could flaunt it in as a centre table in your living room.
Reds, blues, greens, yellows — theres a rainbow collection to pick from. Working almost entirely in metal (except for some wooden ladles), Dewan and Dutt begin by splashing primer on the pieces before applying a coat of enamel. After this, they paint the products in myriad colours before finishing off with a coat of lacquer.
Customisation is their forté. So, if you want a 30-in long painted trunk, for example, that is exactly what you will get (their most expensive product so far is a 30-in long customised trunk at Rs 10,000). Working with floral and abstract motifs, their products can brighten any space.
The kettles in their repertoire are painted in sprightly colours and cost between Rs 650 and Rs 1,400, depending upon the size. The ladles also (at Rs 250 each) make for a pretty picture.
Watering cans by Hue done it are painted with motifs such as fishes and ducks and cost Rs 1,800. However, the showstoppers remain the colourful boxes and trunks. Take your pick of smaller ones that can be used as jewellery boxes or the bigger trunks that can double up as storage boxes/ coffee tables.
Prices depend on the size of the box or trunk. While small boxes cost Rs 600 apiece, a 24-in trunk will cost Rs 5,000. Then there are trays, tins, dustbins and buckets (upward of Rs 250) — all very cheerful and determined to colour your world.