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One day at a time in 2021

Jeevan L Xavier, Founder

As 2021 comes to a close, there is a lot to look back on a year in which we tried to manage and cope with a “new normal”. The country experienced a deadly second wave in April-May that resulted in office lockdowns and curfews. WFH became a staple of our lives.

As we look back, it’s time to remember the dedication and courage of ordinary people at the frontline who went the extra mile.

We are JLX Studio, took each day, one day at a time. Since May of 2020, we had begun to work from home coordinating and meeting online. Though I live within walking distance of our office, I spent a lot of time working from home even as the team used the extra hours freed up by no travel to create new and exciting products.

We began working with handloom weavers in Maheswar (MP), Kotpad (Orissa), and the Kutch (Gujarat). Our ongoing engagement has helped us not only create new products but address some existential questions for ourselves as we explored materials, colors, and designed a limited-edition saree range. This range will be ready by mid-2022. Here’s a sneak preview of one such saree.

Team JLX used the year to experiment with a variety of materials including wood, ceramics, metal, and glass. This, in my view, is truly exploratory and it led us to foray into the amazing world of 3D printing as we tried to finalize prototypes. We hope to launch three different ranges of ceramic and metalware through the coming year.

In the field of design and creation, authenticity is key. That’s why we stitched up a collaboration with Dhiway, a blockchain company that adds a layer of security as well as IPR protection to the new creations we do. In 2021, we created a high-end jacquard design collection and sold it successfully to our first bidder. This is the most exclusive collection we have ever done and we are confident that it will do well.

One of our ever-growing sources of inspiration is our in-house archive, one of the main pillars that support and guide us; it includes textiles, antiques, natural stones, shells, dried flowers and barks, and art. This has now been digitized. In the course of 2021, we revived our engagement with the EDA, an initiative of crowd-sourced archives that we started during the first Covid lockdown in 2020 with participatory ideas with Kolam, the elaborate designs that are a feature of the Tamil month of Margazhi.

Another milestone was the Warp and Weft of Bangalore, a research-based art installation of woven trade textiles of Bangalore, our home, and our continuing inspiration. That process was more than rewarding in the way we learned more about the city and Mysore silk, a market disrupter of the 20th century because it was the very first time that the power loom was used to make silk. This brought down prices considerably as less silk was now used lowering fabric weight. The fabric was now dyed instead of yarn as it was in the handlooms era.

I also found time to re-read a book on colors in design which I read a decade ago. Titled Color: A natural history of the Palette has fascinating anecdotes of the origins of the colors we experience and use. I also spent 3 stimulating days at the KMB-curated Lokame Tharavadu in Kochi in which artists from around India and the world of Malayali origin took to the canvas to express their own identities.

Finally, I am looking forward to a residency program that we are associating ourselves with the Tamil Nadu-based Porgai in which young and talented artists will work alongside the Lambadis, a tribe that has done some remarkable work in traditional embroidery. The 3-month residency has been designed to enable these traditional folks to work with their contemporaries and to see how this meeting of creative minds can take the journey of design further.

Here’s wishing you all happy holidays and a fulfilling New Year 2022.

#Design and fabric

#design talent

#traditional sarees #markstudio @dhiway

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