The goods displayed at Design Fair – Dastkar’s first – blends modern needs and traditional art for urban consumers

Dastkar, an NGO with over three decades of working experience with craftspersons in collaboration with Delhi Tourism, is holding its first Design Fair at Nature Bazaar (earlier known as Kisan Haat) in New Delhi which ends this Sunday. Fifty groups and individuals from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Kashmir, etc. are participating in the event.

This thematic event’s objective is to showcase traditional handmade designs and crafts in contemporary form making them relevant to urban lifestyles and customs. The objects on display represent handloom textiles, regional embroidery styles, garments, jewellery, accessories, decorative objects and furniture.

There are many first-time participants in the fair who are presenting distinctly designed products that merge traditional sensibilities with contemporary approach. Nagina in Bijnore district of UP boasts craftsmen (claiming to hail from Iran) used to carve intricately designed wooden combs for the royalty. The fading away of that class left them without patronage. Now Pankaj Narain of The Beehive, a Delhi-based studio, is reviving that technique by using it in products like lamp shades, photo frames and trays, etc. Similar is the case of block carvers from Pilkhuwa whose skilful designs are now used for creating exquisite wooden drawers.

Kantha style of embroidery, essentially home-makers’ vocation in Odisha and West Bengal, has been incorporated by Paulami in bags, covers, ties, mobile covers, diaries, accessories, etc. giving these daily items of utility a graceful look.

Astonishing it was to know that six major Bangalore-based leather garment factories spew out 30 tonnes of waste every year. Swati Unakar decided to get the waste segregated, sized in strips and use it in loom to produce woven leather. And behold we have fashionable laptop bags, runners (laid out on tables and sideboards), floor cushions, rugs, etc.

The alumni of Kala Raksha Vidyalaya (seven in number) – a design school working with traditional artisans of Kutch – had laid out their wares for the Capital’s connoisseurs. Zubair Khatri describes how he learnt in the institution — the art of symmetry and asymmetry, leaving aesthetic spaces of different sizes in the garments etc. Further, he has assimilated Shibori, the Japanese dyeing technique with ajrakh block printing enabling the birth of new patterns. Shoaib Khatri who saw a film on Jackson Pollock’s abstract paintings in the Vidyalaya, drew from them to make saris, stoles and artworks. The designs of Vankar Govind Megji take the ikat style to the realm of cotton and wool fabrics. The effect brought on by the change of colours is most evident in the transitional areas. Further he uses brighter colours to woo the buyers. Salman Khatri, a traditional batik designer learnt ajrakh in the institution and his wares displayed his knowledge – big motifs, leaving of significant spaces etc., in the fabric.