Nishi Chandra, a Dehradun-based designer who creates bespoke lamps, talks to Teja Lele Desai about her venture Khumari

Dehradun-based Nishi Chandra has always loved two things: art and illumination. She merged the two when she decided to set up her own venture: Khumari, a bespoke boutique for lamps. Chandra, who trained as a textile designer and also teaches art at Welham Girls’ School, says, “Khumari means a high; in my case, a creative high. My aim is to reach an audience that appreciates new design.”

The addition of a lighting element is often seen as the easiest way to create a new look. With lamps and lighting fixtures now available in numerous designs, shapes, dimensions and colours, updating the lighting tone of any space is easy-peasy these days. Lighting design must focus on three basic aspects — aesthetic appeal, ergonomic function and energy efficiency.

“Most of my lamps have a base crafted in steel, including the frame for the shade. I stretch a silk fabric over the frame and hand-paint them. The stands are very basic as I prefer a minimalistic look. The simple bases are the perfect setting for the shades because what’s painted on them is designed to grab attention,” she says.

Most of Chandra’s works, though simple, create stark and stunning style statements. They have an imaginative and out-of-the-box touch to them, and function as standout lighting accessories.

The young designer believes that design adds “so much life to life” where “there is so much clutter of deadlines, chores and multitasking.” “After all, just looking at a well-sculpted paperweight on a work table can give the mind a break. My designs aim to provide a break from drudgery,” she says.

Chandra works with large shades that usually function as a sizeable canvas of sorts. “The artwork tries to connect with the mind of the onlooker. When crafting it, I try to imagine what can make a person smile, sigh or simply take him or her down memory lane. I like to throw in a lot of calligraphy in my designs; this is interwoven with the subject to create a dramatic appeal. The play of light adds to the impact of the design,” she says.

Chandra retails out of her studio and her Facebook page. Her bespoke lamps are priced between Rs. 6,000 and Rs. 9,000; shipping and other charges are additional.

Moving back to Dehradun after 15 years in other cities may have helped Chandra’s creative growth. “Dehradun has a quiet pace; it is possible to actually meet a fabricator who is ready to customise designs for you. He doesn't mind creating each design with you and will offer you tea while you see the piece taking shape. I am finicky about the finish. I am known for this at the steel factory,” she says.

For the future, she plans to dabble in newer mediums and elements. “I have started with lamps, but will definitely venture into wood-based design. I plan to start with small pieces of furniture that can be hand-painted to tell a story,” says Chandra.