Our first in what we hope to be many interviews with our designers, non-profit groups and fellow travel lovers is with textile maven, Kriti Gupta. When I began the market research for Swoon For I knew that I wanted to feel a reaction to the pieces that I found for the store. When I came across Kriti's designs I immediately knew how very special they are. The delicate nature of the block prints with the hand sewn detailing are simply stunning. Her experience in the industry, passion for making authentic and unique pieces along with her kind spirit make her exactly the type of artist that I love to work with. I can't tell you how excited I get when her packages arrive from Hyderabad. I'm like a giddy child on Christmas morning. Here's a little of what Kriti had to say about her career, craft and inspirations:
Swoon For: How did you first become involved in designing?
Kriti: I have been curating and sourcing textiles and textile products for a few online boutiques and stores for over 8 years now but never thought I would design my own range. When my son was born, I spent a lot of time searching for baby bedding that felt special, something that would reflect my own design aesthetic, but couldn’t find one that met my expectations in terms of design. I finally had to design and develop a baby quilt from scratch. I listed two baby quilts on Etsy and received an overwhelming response from moms who were looking for baby products that were something they connected with. This led me to keep at it and I decided to design my own line. There has been no looking back from then, it has been very exciting.
Swoon For: What is it that you most love about your work?
Kriti: My work is a blend of modern aesthetics and traditional art forms. The process of interpreting a traditional craft in a modern sense is what makes it thrilling. I enjoy using a sync of geometric and floral patterns. I absolutely love re-imagining traditional textiles and vintage finds as products that would fit beautifully in a modern home.
Swoon For: What are your favorite pieces to design?
Kriti: Currently, I am obsessed with baby and toddler decor! I am focussed on developing a line of block printed nursery decor compete with curtains, crib sheets, pillows and towels. My idea is to create gender neutral products that reflect a timeless character.
Swoon For: Tell us a bit about why you love the block print and ikat designs that you work with.
Kriti: I love block printing because the technique is so simple yet so powerful. Wood block printing is probably one of the oldest methods of surface ornamentation, thus timeless, but the patterns and designs are evolving every day. Wood block printing requires artisanal expertise and precision at every step and I am in awe of techniques that are a combined result of patience and dedication. Kari by Kriti block printed baby blankets and quilts are developed as keepsakes that can one day become heirloom pieces and can be passed down from an older sibling to the younger ones or may be even across generations.
I have been living in Hyderabad, India for the last 3 years which inspired me to research into the history of ikat fabrics that are local to this region. The skill that goes into hand weaving a few meters of fabric leaves me amazed every single time I see new fabric being woven on traditional wooden looms. Ikat technique actually involves weaving a pattern from yarns that are tied and dyed to create a design. It requires sophisticated planning, accuracy and of course, patience. The more I delve into the technique, the more I fall in love with it!
Swoon For: What inspires you most? Where do you pull design inspiration from?
Kriti: I draw my inspiration from vintage textiles, textile books, exhibitions and museums. I enjoy simplifying elements of vintage textiles to create patterns for possible wood blocks. The Fabric of India by Rosemary Crill is a current favorite go to book.
A lot of my designs also reflect a memorable childhood spent growing up in the foothills of the Himalayas.I find inspiration for the colors I use in the diverse flora and fauna of the mountains.
My greatest source of inspiration is my spirited toddler who pushes me to find the energy to do what I love most!
Swoon For: What is it that makes your designs so special and different?
Kriti: I am an ardent believer in slow fashion, Functionality, quality and usability are the three key aspects of my design. When my son was born my mum gifted him a crochet blanket that once belonged to me. She had preserved it all these years for my baby. That is the kind of emotional connect that I intend on creating with my products.
I am currently in the process of developing upcycled saree kaftans and lounge pants just in time for the beach season along with a new range of modern ikat throw pillows, tableware etc.
For more info about Kriti and her beautiful work visit her blog, www.handmadetalks.com, and be sure to check out her Instagram (@Kriti629) for behind the scenes images of her work, inspirations and the manufacturing process from beginning to end. Her amazing baby quilts, blankets and napkins are available in the Swoon For store in Décor and the Kids' Corner. Trust me when I say they make the perfect gifts or additions to your own home.
Feature image © Hillary Leo. All other photos © Kriti Gupta.