Here 'n' There
Beauty very often lies in simplicity. Walk into Tia Pakhi, the quaint home dcor and accessories store in Hindusthan Park and you'll be struck by what humble thread-work can conjure up. For, Tia Pakhi - the brainchild of French designer Anais Basu - is reinventing the simple kantha stitch.
Anais's repertoire is rich in eye-catching kantha designs in vibrant colours - whether on cushion-covers, quilts, batuas or jackets. "One can create beautiful textures and shading with kantha . I wanted to use the stitch on products of daily use," says the 29-year-old designer.
Nurturing a childhood interest in crafts and embroidery, Anais trained in fashion and textile design at the applied arts institute, LISAA in Paris. In 2006, a year after she graduated, she arrived in Calcutta to work for an export house for some six months. "That's when I first discovered Indian textile and kantha ," she says.
She returned to France and enrolled in a postgraduate management degree in textile and clothing from ESIV Institute in Paris. In 2008, Anais was back in Delhi to work with French fashion designer Laurence Dolig, co-founder of the international fashion label, Madame a Paris. A year later she married lawyer Abhishek Basu and moved to Calcutta permanently.
In 2011, Anais held the first exhibition of Tia Pakhi - named after the common green parrots found in India - at a private venue in le Saint-Louis, Paris. Another followed in January 2012 at her studio in Hindusthan Park.
"I was pleasantly surprised to find that there's a healthy demand for what's an understated, minimalist style," she says.
More exhibitions followed in Paris, Rome, Delhi and Bangalore last year even as she launched her boutique store in Calcutta in September. "I like to hold the exhibitions in a personalised homely environment," says Anais.
Anais works in tandem with 150 underprivileged craftswomen from the villages around Calcutta. She meets them once or twice a year and gives them direction on the fabric, the threads to use, along with detailed instructions on how to execute the designs. "I believe in slow fashion and don't work to strict deadlines," says the petite designer who creates about 30 patterns per month.
Coming up are more exhibitions in Chennai and Bangalore this year. Tia Pakhi products are also available in the boutique store of Raas Hotel Jodhpur.
According to Anais, the vintage look is a definite trend in home dcor - in terms of accessories, furniture and lighting. Antique designs and motifs and a patina finish, which lends products a timeworn look, are clearly in. The designer herself is partial to a blend of the old with the new.
"These dualities interest me, which is why I like to depict modern designs through the age-old kantha ," she says.
Anais' fairytale designs - think butterflies, stars, and flowers - come in myriad colours. "I'm inspired by flowers and gardens, vintage prints and pictures in children's books," she says.
The cushions cost between Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,500 while table linen - that's a set of eight napkins (Rs 1,100), a table cloth (Rs 3,500) and a runner (Rs 1,200) - are all hot-sellers. While a quilt costs Rs 5,000, you'll have to shell out between Rs 2,000 and Rs 3,000 for a baby quilt.
Unusual floor cushions, designed with board game patterns of backgammon and checkers, come with a set of wooden coins to play. "I'm working on snakes and ladders next," smiles Anais. These cost Rs 4,000.
Silk scarves cost Rs 1,900 while batuas are priced at Rs 950. Her range of kantha jackets are tagged between Rs 2,000 and Rs 8,000.