Women Series | June Edit

Women series is a monthly edit to explore creative entrepreneurship amongst women globally. Through this series, we wish to understand creative journeys, challenges, inspirations and develop a community. For the June edit, we have interviewed Rina Singh of EKA ( Fashion and Textiles) and Vrinda Mathur of Studio Wood ( Space, Interior and Architecture) 

RINA SINGH

RINA SINGH EKA

Tell me about how your creative journey started. Did you have creative influences growing up?  What education/ training did you receive?

I've lived across Kurukeshtra my hometown, Saharanpur my maternal hometown, Rajasthan and boarding in Himachal.So I've been influenced by daily of agriculturists to pursue a simple living and also life in a boarding taught me articulation of my thoughts.I would always make clothes and curios at home whether or not a designer yet, I still was considered good at making and styling. Later after finishing my graduation at Jodhpur university, I pursued studying fashion on scholarship at Wigan & Leigh College.I later went on to finish my course in UK. A post graduate diploma in fashion.

What has been the source of inspiration for you( people, travel,  places, cultures etc)? 

Largely Culture, I a from a family of agriculturists. So simple living, making locally, and wearing ethical clothes ( adder of khadder or khadi ) , growing our own food, sourcing local means of sustainable living.. had been ingrained in y life philosophy early on. later through education and working with Nift and later on with ITC and travelling across the globe made me more aware of local knowledge and wisdom. I am extremely charmed by rural life in India, y weavers their life style has a simplicity that motivates me. and also getting the kind of response we get to the earnestly of the product from across the world adds fuel to the fire, of going back and toiling agin. It gives us larger recognition and originality of thought.

Can you also talk about your experience of working in the Indian Design industry and the challenges you face. With a growing trend of Artisanal products, how do you keep your story and product relevant? Do you think your cultural identity brought influences at work? 

Indian Design Industry like the country itself is varied.there is no single way to describe it. there is a taste for 'more' and there is a growing taste for 'less' on the clothes. theres is a rising awareness for ethically produced, natural textiles and home grown designs thats ore relevant to climate, culture and is not driven by trend. It is a step in the right direction I think, So long as we are able to keep our focus intact and grow our consumers.. I always go back to restart fro the roots and work strongly on the product. each season is a learning, each season the product is evolved and edited, and that no one else can learn, unless the sae path is followed. So i thin k "more the merrier".. Nothing takes away your story, your learnings and your product so long as I don't waver with the changing market and loose focus on what i set out to do.Yes culture definitely effects the work and its outcome, its representative of entire lifestyle and thought cycle and doesn't only pertain to a season or a trend.There fore there is longitevity of a value preposition or idea, or a reconnection each season with the originality of the collection.

What is the step forward for your personal projects? Would you like to share any?  Could you comment about 'being a creative soul' and  How does travel facilitate your ideas?  

I am still exploring so much. the mind opens to cross cultural collaborations, in materials, spaces and products. Creativity if fuelled with the right thought can only grow, it expands and evolves, it finds a direction on its own, starts editing, starts emulating, and reconnecting. Its amazing how it flourishes with travel, finding new expressions to common ideology, like even noticing how differently the doors , the ceilings, the space design, the architecture, the colours could be fro one place to another. its all design driven., Creativity i think frees you of boundaries of many kinds, its un limiting and expansive. 

"the blessing is you are always true to your self, and the band is you are always true to your self " :)

VRINDA MATHUR

Vrinda Mathur, Studio Wood

Tell me about how your creative journey started. Did you have creative influences growing up?  What education/ training did you receive? 

While I was growing up, I had creative influencers all around me, both my parents were into the furniture manufacturing business and my early encounters at their workshop amidst karigars sensitised me towards the power of 'handmade'. I was all of 14 years old when I knew I wanted to pursue design. It took a while from there on to actually understand that design was such a vast discipline and so were the opportunities and scope. After I finished my schooling from Springdales School, Dhaula Kuan, I was enrolled at the prestigious National Institute of Fashion Technology, New Delhi for a lifestyle accessory design course.

What has been the source of inspiration for you( people, travel,  places, cultures etc)? 

My source of inspiration is often ever-changing. It is a mix of everything - people, music, travels, talks. Everything that has made me the creative person I am today has greatly inspired me to do better and work towards achieving my goals personally and professionally. Sometimes just being outdoors, with nature, good music, tea and a sketchbook has inspired me to make the best decisions of my life.

Can you also talk about your experience of working in India as a start up and the challenges you faced( maybe as woman entrepreneur) ? 

I started Studio Wood when I was right out of college, all of 23. I didn't have much prior experience but I did have the gumption and passion to learn hands on, hearts in and that's what pushed me to start early. Since I work in the furniture and interior design space, my interaction is mostly with karigars, contractors, vendors most of whom are male. Its been a challenge from the start to put myself out there and be confident of my ideas and concepts. I've heard all the ' you're too young, we've been doing this for years' statement almost everywhere but its changing now. 4 years later, I am seeing the respect and dignity that was quite replaceable with naivety when I started off. Having said that, there is a learning curve to everything; all the stories that crossed paths in the last couple of years have facilitated in making me achieve my goals today.

What is the step forward for your personal projects? Would you like to share any?  Could you comment about 'being a creative soul' and does travel facilitate your ideas?

 My work is mostly all covered with everything I do at the studio. However, apart from the commercial projects we take up in the scope of furniture and interior design, I like to keep my passion projects going alongside. Throughout college I was involved in community development projects through art and design with organisations such as Becoming I Foundation where I worked as creative director for 3 years and Teach For India where I volunteered for 2 academic sessions. The very need to give back to the society and community is inherent and I've been working on a few projects within our studio space for the same.

As young additions to the urban village of Kishangarh, Studio Wood has been constantly making efforts to develop the environment they work out of and interact with, for over 8 hours a day. The first step to this was to map out the village of Kishangarh across our studio facade. Our aim is to develop a non-profit yet creative experience while engaging the local community. In the past few months while working on the facade, we have interacted with kids (and a few adults) living locally and started conversations about the environment they are all in. This project is titled 'You For US'  and now we are working on further editions.

Could you comment on the current landscape of independent artists in India and how brands and individuals are more open to experimentation. 

In India, it is the best time to be a young creative. Social media channels such as Instagram, YouTube and even Facebook have provided a platform to designers and artists to showcase their work to a wide audience. I myself get most of my creative juices from Instagram. So many young artists, graphic designers, product designers have beautifully curated their feed/pages. This communication has helped brands like mine to reach clients; its almost become like a visual catalog. In the growing age of tech start-ups and funding, more and more brands are looking to find newer people with fresh ideas, everyone wants something different. Office spaces for example, have become such a status quo. 'Open-plan' working systems, colour blocking, quirky art is now defining one's brand image as opposed to the typical cubical design offices of the early-mid 2000's. Our first project of this kind was with the folks at Truly Madly, a dating app run by former Make My Trip founders (all of them with an average age of 40 years) were looking for a 'Cool' office design which would make their young team spend more time and increase productivity. This of course worked for both parties. From there on we've designed offices for other start ups such as LBB, Delhi, Castle Global, Loyalty Prime and Wingify.