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What is the meaning, purpose, and value of craftsmanship in your products?
I see myself as a catalyst as a designer. It gives energy and satisfaction to create a viable and meaningful product using traditional craftsmanship.
What is the relationship between consumer and artisan work for your products?
Indian traditions are a cultural phenomenon. Each region has rites of passage with sensitive choice of colours and crafts. As a designer, respecting those traditions and being sensitive to the needs of the consumer and the culture creates that relationship.
What are some challenges you face in engaging artisans in design and handwork?
The social fabric of most countries make them more modern, and children of craftspeople find other means which are less laborious as career options. We have to adapt and evolve to bring change to these crafts. We need more support, and policies that nurture these rich art forms. We have to include modern methods of embroidery, weaving to translate into more mechanical methods that keep the intellectual property with these craftspeople, but also provide them tools to make it less laborious.
New generation artisans in India would not want to follow the age old tradition and move to urban areas, how does Ritu Kumar as a brand take care of this?
All endeavour which is high skilled will have to move up in the price scale to make it attractive for the age-old traditions to continue. If the crafts are nurtured both economically and given their respect and due importance, tradition will continue; where that does not happen, it will not survive. We need support and policies that can preserve these ageold traditions.
Are artisans hired on a yearly contract or by jobwork? Are there any perks? How many holidays? Vacation if on yearly contract?
It depends, depends on the work.
What is your take on the impact you have made in the lives of these artisans and their families?
Being a catalyst and adapting to the skill level of the artisans in essence creates wonderful opportunities for these artisans. With project like Kala Raksha, I am trying to revive and promote the art form through market-ready styling of the garment. This involves using the traditional art form while creating modern silhouettes and keeping end-use in perspective. There are several other similar projects in pipeline.
How do you make sure to offer novel designs keeping the traditional designs alive?
A commitment to the ethos of work, and also a commitment to the crafts of the country. It was difficult, but if there is focus and confidence in the heritage we possess, it becomes simpler to achieve.
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