India in Australia
Balance of Modern and Traditional
It has been a constant challenge to balance both my love for modern and traditional design. I am nostalgic of traditional indian clothing as it reminds me of my childhood. My modern aesthetic is inspired by graphic and interior design principles learnt from design training. The method of marrying is simply down to prototyping and experimentation. For example my current collection is inspired by the brutalist architecture movement in the western world and the khadi self-reliance movement in India. Both focus on function and use few materials so flourishes and features can only come from structure, colour or texture.
Cultural Influence on aesthetics
Sydney, Melbourne and Wellington (New Zealand) are definitely producing ethical and unique work. I strongly believe artists are inspired by their surroundings. Every time I visit a new city and sometimes even different neighbourhoods in Australia, I feel like starting a new campaign. Some neighbourhoods are concerned with community, some political voice, some food, some the environment, some the harmony of urban aesthetic. Each community brings its own flavour and has a big influence on what people wear as an expression of their priorities.
An artisanal and ethical brand from Sydney, hopes to bridge the gap between artisanal work and fashion by combining cultural forms of silhouette and woven textile in single garments. Badaam was founded by creative director Priyanka Kaul in 2017. Badaam's thoughtful philosophy ensures ethical production of handwoven and natural fabrics in healthy work environments. We spoke to the founder to understand her process and philosophy.
Journey with Design and Textiles
My family is not what I would call traditionally creative, I come from a family of engineers and scientists. However, when I was younger my mother introduced me to her saree collection explaining how each state in India had almost a different textile, a different weave and decorative style. I became quite fascinated by handloom and different weaves. Fabric and colours like these were not easily found in Australian textiles stores. This led me to start a course in textile and fashion design in Sydney, Australia. I then worked internships and found there was no one considering handloom and indo-western styles in Australia. Out of both curiosity and frustration, I started my label Badaam in 2017.
Indian crafts globally
From my experience in Australia. Indian textiles are approached with a sense of curiosity. Handmade is definitely seen as a luxury in global markets. I believe the strengths of Indian fashion lie in the intricacies of weave, embroidery and fabric feel. The feel of khadi and chanderi is so unique that I have watched customers spend almost five minutes just feeling the fabric of our pieces. I also believe that Indian fashion designers are blessed with access to talented textile artisans which are not found in western communities. For example block printers, weavers, hand-spinners, embroidery and beading artists.
The challenges lie in the marketing. It’s not always easy for western communities to connect with the aesthetic and style of Indian silhouettes. With more labels being creative and inclusive with their pattern making this view will slowly change.
Craft and artisanal work is back in fashion. People are nostalgic of a time when fashion was a more personal and tailored experience. Where merchandise was not just bought and sold but was given a story. Craft really adds a story to garments. It personifies a garment and gives the impression that it’s a piece of artwork instead of another piece from mass production. Consumers are also more aware of the maker. They want to buy garments which are ethically and thoughtfully made. The challenge as an artist is to stay relevant and fresh whilst still maintaining a slow production cycle. I will have designed something a year ago and then release something 2 cycles late of colour and style trends. It’s hard to stay commercially viable in a fast fashion industry. It will take time for the two industries to balance.
'A piece of textile is both a work of art and design'.
The purpose of art and design lies in the artist/designer. Whether it is to invoke emotion or action or both it’s really up to the creator. For me I believe textile has the power of both invoking emotion and action. I feel that yes there should be more textile in museums hung up like art work but then I feel that is not their function. If I think of someone weaving cotton, sewing a seam, sketching a block pattern or drawing a technical sketch. These are all artisans and are balancing form and function.
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The Craft Project wishes to document tangible anthropology i.e material culture of a place and comment on its relevance in the contemporary space. We also wish to bring together a community of cultural travelers and craft entrepreneurs and create a collective of common motivation. The Craft Project celebrates Diversity in culture through objects, folk arts, crafts, and design. Through this project, we will be conducting community-sourced primary research and publishing about crafts and will involve brands, NGOs, collectives, makers, designers, curators, thought leaders, other publications etc.