Artesign Collaborations

Sunday, 24 November 2013 - 11:18am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

Altering hemlines and reshaping contours and cuts seems a thing of the past; the new trend is collaboration. Designers are working with some of the world’s most exciting artists for their creations. The line between art and fashion has become a bit of a blur, but what’s clear is that designers are looking towards the east; Yayoui Kasuma and Takashi Murakami for Louis Vuitton, Liu Bolin for Valentino and Jean Paul Gautier. More recently Etro sought out Delhi based artists Thukral & Tagra (T&T) to design a collection of accessories and Mumbai based illustrator Sameer Kulavoor’s colourful sketches found their way onto Paul Smith new Tee’s. These days Indian artists are well in demand both in the fashion world and beyond; Absolut teamed up with Anish Kapoor after power couple Subodh Gupta and Bharti Kher. We hear that T&T might be next on their list. We love this spirit of collaboration, ‘Artesign’ is after all our motto.

This week, we’ve done a little collaborating ourselves; we’ve joined forces with T&T and Sameer Kulavoor to create our very own Artesign Project. You would think that teaming up with artists that have worked with stalwart labels might be tough, but this was a breeze. A huge thanks to the artists, it was a pleasure!

Thukral & Tagra for Etro
Thukral and Tagra’s illustrations give Etro’s classic paisley a contemporary twist. The artists were approached by Etro in 2011 to create a limited edition capsule collection. “They loved our concept in the first go, we started conversations and did a few visit’s to the Etro House in Milan, soon after we got started on the sampling process,” the artists explain. “We wanted to create an infinite pattern with paisley, further de-constructing it to create a un-interrupting, unified tessellation system which is young and complex at the same time.” Their concept was to go back to the basics and question the visual representation of a motif that has become so commonplace in our culture. T&T’s playful yet articulate illustrations give Etro’s Mirabilia Collection just the right amount of Pop. The key to a good collaboration, the artists maintain is striking a balance between ‘craft and technology’. Managing projects in Messin, Verona, Paris and finishing their new studio in Gurgaon; the Delhi duo seem to have mastered the balancing act.

Sameer Kulavoor for Paul Smith
 “Cycles merge into the grime and chaos of the street backgrounds. But when I looked at the cycles in isolation (without the background) every detail of the cycle had a lot of meaning,” Kulavoor told me. The Bombay Duck Designs founder began by documenting the cycles he came across in his travels around India, but soon enough, decided that the documentation needed to be as unique and personalised as the cycles he saw; a few sketches later the Ghoda Cycle Project was born.

Kulavoor’s next step was finding potential collaborators and found himself at UK-based, menswear label Paul Smith, “I visited his flagship store in London and liked how he integrates his love for cycling and graphic art in everything he does, right to the interiors of the showroom.”

The interest was mutual; the British designer has the reputation of loving all things cycle and used Kulavoor’s colourful illustrations in his 2013 collection.

Kallol at Khoj
We’ve already established that designers recurrently call upon artists for various projects, but last week while I was in Delhi I stumbled upon a rather interesting inversion of the general rule. Khoj International Artists Association, an artist residency in New Delhi has been exploring the crossovers between art and fashion. Fashion icon Kallol Datta returned to Khoj this year to question his relationship with fashion, the industry and his practice.

“The month-long residency presents challenges in relation to time, schedules, interaction with fellow artists and editing thoughts. The curators Simrat Dugal along with Pooja Sood sit in every week for what I like to call ‘progress meetings’,” explains Kallol, “for someone as insular as me, this helps a great deal in bringing about newer perspectives and reactions to my work.”

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