LIFESTYLE Amrita Nambiar launches Olie, a collection of table linen, lamps, and cushion covers with motifs inspired by her idyllic life in Pondicherry

Twenty-six-year-old Amrita Nambiar saw light, one day, while sitting by the sea, a pencil in hand, in Pondicherry. In the three years she had spent there, life seemed like a vacation all through — “People just cycle everywhere, everyone knows everyone else, students at the Ashram’s schools think so differently, and are busy exploring mountains…”. Her time there made her want to recapture the joy of nature that we forget in the blur of everyday city life.

An illustrator, graphic and web designer, Amrita put pen to paper and from there emerged images she’d see walking around Pondi — lotuses, falling leaves, dragonflies…From these sketches emerged Olie, meaning light in Tamil — a line of table linen, cushion covers, and lamps featuring motifs that evolved from her sketches.

The now Bangalore-based Amrita was raised in the Middle East, but came down to Bangalore when she was 16 to study at the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath. She graduated in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in Fine Art. During the last year of art school, she began working with a design studio called Flip, where she was introduced to the fundamentals of graphic design. She worked on the graphics for the walls of the Indiranagar restaurant Cirrus. For the next two years she created websites, video games, dabbled in spatial design and discovered illustration. “I’ve always been fond of interiors, and I’m also an illustrator. It just seemed natural to marry the two,” says Amrita, of her decision to launch Olie.

She worked with luxury brand Hidesign in Pondicherry and was with them when their flagship store was launched, doing up their walls with a timeline of the brand. She also conceptualised and created their first limited edition hand-painted bags.

“I had also wanted to work with lighting, and so ended up doing my range of floor and pendant lamps,” says Amrita. She combines traditional buttis or woven bamboo baskets with hand-printed cloth to create very peculiar lamps.

Another natural material she’s used is hand-twisted natural banana fibres, created by village artisans living on the outskirts of Bangalore. “I’ve used it like a border on my cushion covers, much like a traditional zari border. The borders, which are stitched on, lend an exquisite texture,” she offers.

Amrita has launched Olie with four collections — “each has a mood, an inspiration, and a short verse which points to my inspiration, allowing people to interpret it for themselves,” says Amrita. Windsong and Impermanence reflect the fleeting moments of life that man can’t control. Heartlight and Roots and Wings feature repetitive motifs of flying fish and lotuses, inspired by the Buddhist idea of seeking nirvana, she says. The motifs have been hand-printed by artists in Chennai.

The prices range from Rs. 850 for cushion covers, up to Rs. 8,000 for the floor lamps. In the table linen range, runners come priced at Rs. 1,400, and sets of tablemats and napkins starts at Rs. 2,194.

Olie will be launched today through an exhibition at Raintree, opposite ITC Windsor, Sankey Road. It will be on show on October 4 and 5, between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Call 9902688922.