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More than a cotton rug- Pomegranate Fabrics

By | IMBYOU, One to watch | 2 Comments

I stared at the picture for a long time, all the while thinking, wish I could see the cotton rug. I was drooling over a Dhurrie called Scion on Facebook.

The subliminal flow of royal blue colour dyed and suspended in a way that seemed like a wave of deep blue water frozen as it ebbed away from the shoreline. The minimalist block printing started where the dyed colour ended. It became a must to find out more about the brand Pomegranate Fabrics.

Handwoven Table Runner - Soleil

Soon after, Imbyou collaborated with the design studio called Pomegranate Fabrics, based in Bangalore, India. With more then 17 years of experience as designers in the Textile Industry, the husband wife duo of Mahesh Kumar Ramachandaran and is wife Deepa Somsundaram, founded the textile studio with an aim to marry traditional textile craft with contemporary visual aesthetics.

In their own words: “we have been involved in the designing of home furnishing textiles for the Global market and have been aware of the impact on the diminishing craft industry. Pomegranate Fabrics is an initiative to support and sustain craft and craftsmanship.”

Nomad handwoven cotton table runner

I have always been curious as to how do designers do what they do. So I had the opportunity to ask Mahesh a few questions with the hope that it will give the readers a peek into a creative person’s mind.

Me:  Which was the moment  or who was the person who influenced you to become a designer.

Mahesh: Vijaya, my Maths teacher, saw my potential and suggested that I should apply for National Iinstitute of Design. There was very less exposure about NID those days. My parents supported me in my decision to become a designer.

Me: If you were not a designer, what would you be?

Mahesh: I would have become an Air Force fighter Pilot

Me: Is trend important for you in your work?

Mahesh: Yes. Very much. Our design collections are based on Fashion and Home Decor Trend Forecasts. We are atleast 1 year ahead of the present trend as it takes that long for our products to reach the market.

Me: Whose work do you look upto the most?

Mahesh: There are many inspirational personalities. To name a few, Shyam Ahuja is definitely a role model. Also artist like Mark Rothko for his play with colours, Junichi Arai and other shibori artists for their play with techniques and of course Indian crafts itself is a very big inspiration.

Me: Which part of your design process do you enjoy the most?

Mahesh: Concept Development and Creation

Me: What would be your dream project?

Mahesh (speaking on behalf of Deepa as well): Our Dream project is to create a Crafts Village, where in one gets to experience different crafts and interact with the craftsperson and can learn the skill. The perfect unison of design and craft, translating into functional and aesthetically appealing lifestyle product. It will be a platform for the recognition of these craftsmen and suitable rewards to encourage their creativity and skill. An inspiration for the next generation to sustain the craft itself.

Me:  How important is culture in your work?

Mahesh: Culture is very important in our work as we are inspired from Indian Crafts. Crafts is a mirror and it reflects our ancient values and culture itself.

Moving onto  something more everyday, I wanted to know a bit about Mahesh and Deepa’s studio life.

Me: What is that one object you cannot do without in your studio?

Mahesh: My desktop.

Me: How would you describe your studio

Mahesh: My studio is casually comfortable.

Me: What is your observation on the Indian design scene in today’s time?

 Mahesh:The awareness about design and designers have increased in the last 2 decades. There is a recognition for good design and there are many good designers in various disciplines of design.

I have always wondered if designers use their own designs at home.

Me: Do you use your own design at home?

Mahesh: Yes. We do use our design at home. Scion dhurrie in our home lounge.

What are the chances!! My favourite design.

Thats all folks.

Pomegranate Fabrics are available to buy at Imbyou.

Image courtesy – Vallari, Mahesh.

The Retyrement Plan.

By | One to watch | One Comment

“Madam mast dikhta hai” (madam it looks fantastic!) says the weaver , who actually migrated to Mumbai to earn a living for his family, doing something totally unconnected to his true skills- that of weaving!

What an amazing thing this world wide web is. As we trawled through one exciting site after another, we came across this really catchy and considered design and development studio on a social media platform which works with discarded waste materials.

The Retyrement Plan product image


So from Toronto we travel to the bustling city of Mumbai, where a  textile designer Anu Vieira Tandon runs the concept studio- The Retyrement Plan.

We have been following this studio’s progress for some time and finally got an opportunity to speak to Anu one fine British summer day.

Anu has had an established career as a Textile Designer for more years than she can remember. While speaking to us over the phone this is what she said:

-I am a designer by profession and 4 years ago, I had one of those “What have I done with my life? moments. Also “˜What do I want to do with my life?” followed. Surprisingly, the answer was not that difficult. I decided to make a difference.

Not knowing that this effort of hers will grow into something truly spectacular, she elaborates that she wanted to make a small difference with few of the urban craftsmen that she had often been in touch with during her several years as a designer.

Arm chair@ retyrment plan 800x800Cat scratch pad or foot stool @Retyrment Plan 800x800

Her keen sense of observation led her to notice that there was a lot of industrial waste in a place like Mumbai: “As it is not economically viable to reuse this waste, it ends up in landfills. Production waste like paper, fabric, plastic, used tyres and a lot of other perfectly good material (in my eyes) ends up adding to the ever increasing garbage problem and subsequently to the increasing environmental issues.”

Anu saw an opportunity to turn this waste into something beautiful and functional. This would serve the purpose of using up waste while contributing to the preservation of environment in her own way.

She started looking around for byproducts made from waste material and her search led to the most exciting product: this beautiful rope made out of textile and tailoring waste, that are handmade in Gujarat and Rajasthan. Given that the rope is fashioned from diverse waste each strand is a rainbow of colours. Anu wanted to give it the same respect and refinement as she would any expensive raw material.

Weaver busy weaving a Retyrment Plan stool 800x800

She didn’t have to travel very far to look for skilled cane weavers for her designs. She found a group of weavers from far flung places like Assam, Bihar, Karnataka within her work vicinity.

“Using materials such as cane, bamboo and old tyres intricately woven over with waste rope, and a high level of design input, we came out with our first The Retyrement plan product, the first of a line of well designed and detailed contemporary furniture for the urban market” explains Anu.

Retyrment plan footstool 800x800

The emphasis is on producing beautifully designed and woven pieces of furniture, without compromise, and finding markets that value them, and are willing to integrate these Upcycled furniture in their environment. A weaver can take 2-3 days for a pouffe and 4-6 days to weave a chair.

Glass mounted tyre table

The furniture is both outdoor & indoor use and includes pouffes, cane chairs, planters, mirrors, cat scratch pads etc, all using recycled materials and traditional weaving skills, married to modern design. Every piece is distinct, giving buyers a sense of unique ownership.

Applauds to the team of The Retyrement Plan and Anu Veira Tandon for this initiative.

Anu@The Retyrement Plan

Imbyou wishes The Retyrement Plan a lot of success. A studio practice with a  design ethos for a better future is not for the faint hearted. Salute!







For more details click here The Retyrement Plan