Bun.Kar BIHAR by Srijani Foundation
Srijani Foundation is a not for profit organization run by Ms. Veena Upadhyay, working towards the preservation and promotion of traditional handlooms and continuous skill up-gradation of weavers of Bihar. Bun.Kar Bihar is its retail brand that showcases the textiles and handmade products made by the rural communities of the state. The Foundation was registered in Patna, Bihar, under Societies Registration Act 21, 1860 on 24th September 2015 with grant aid from Tata Trust in January 2016 for a project titled ‘Weaving for a Living’.
Amit & Richard were brought in by TATA TRUST in 2018 for a period of one and a half years, as consultants to help with design as well as marketing intervention. The project brief was to study the textile craft skills available, mainly the extra weft technique of Bavan Buti and Sujni embroidery, indigenous to Bihar, and design a range of products for clothing as well as for the home. Bihar, a state rich in craft and specially textile weaving techniques had over the years lost a lot of its heritage artisans to alternate vocations far removed from the traditional skills. The main focus was to create livelihood for the artisans that was sustainable and to create opportunities for the artisans to be brought back to work in their heritage skill areas.
The designers’ approach was manifold – an immense amount of time spent in research of the skill sets and the understanding of the requirements as well as the limitations. Through multiple visits to the grassroots level and interactions with the rural artisans and the organization Amit & Richard worked to evaluate the areas that required their intervention.
Drawing inspiration from the old weaving samples as well as from architecture in the local area, they worked to create a new vocabulary of motifs which would appeal to a wider audience –nationally and internationally. Working from the fibre stage to the final products and their marketing, the duo offered their expertise to make the organisation self-sustaining. They also designed the branding for the organisation’s retail branch under the name of ‘Bun.Kar BIHAR’ and helped them with marketing of the products through various avenues. The success of the project today has led Srijani Foundation to allow for expanding their infrastructure of traditional skills while bringing lost artisans back to their traditional vocations.
KHAMIR - THE DESI OON PROJECT
Khamir is an organisation based out of Kachch in Gujarat that acts as a platform for the crafts, heritage and cultural ecology of the Kachchh region of Gujarat. Instituted after the earthquake of 2001, it is a space for engagement and development of Kachchh's rich creative industries.
Desi oon celebrates indigenous wool, its craft, and sheep breeds. It was organized in collaboration with weavers, spinners, dyers and felt artisans of Kutch along with designer collections. This exhibition is the first step by Khamir to communicate the utility of indigenous wool to urban consumer markets.
Khamir organised Desi Oon: A four-day exhibition held from 10th-13th December 2020 in Bikaner House, Delhi.
Amit & Richard of Amrich were brought on as consultants to offer their design inputs towards making the ‘desi wool’ palatable for the urban consumers. This indigenous wool, is rather coarse and hence required a lot of research and trials to make it more acceptable for clothing. The designers used their knowledge of the craft skills in the local area and worked to create a double cloth akin to ‘mashru’ where the fabric woven would have the coarse desi wool as one layer and indigenous cotton (kala cotton) as the other layer. This allowed for the use of the fabric to make elegant outer wear for the urban markets.
USHA SILAI x Amit & Richard
Usha Silai School program is a pan India, community-based rural initiative of Usha International Limited (Usha). This social initiative aims at skilling women on sewing and stitching and supporting them to set up their own self-sustaining micro-enterprise under the Usha Silai School banner. Usha believes that supporting women to develop their inherent latent potentialities would help bring about holistic development for society at large. Keeping women empowerment at the core of our work, the program’s uniqueness lies in being inclusive and tailor made considering varying landscapes. The program includes women who are rape survivors, manual scavengers, transgenders or suffering with disability, irrespective of their caste, creed, and culture.
The program is being implemented with the support of multiple stakeholders, thus bringing in cross-cultural experiences, expertise, learning, and opportunities at the helm. Over the years, more than 31,000 Usha Silai Schools have been established spreading its wing across all 28 states and 8 union territories of India. The program also has its presence in Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bhutan. Till date, our Usha Silai homepreneurs have cumulatively earned 100+ crore rupees and skilled more than 10 lakh women through Usha Silai Schools.
Amit & Richard were brought in via IMG Reliance (Lakme Fashion Week) to work as consultants, trainers and facilitators to work with rural women from Kaladhera, Bagru, Rajasthan. The project involved in upgrading skill sets of these women trained through the Usha Silai schools to create a range of garments that were to be showcased at Lakme Fashion Week and then retailed through multi-brand outlets like OGAAN.
Their work involved multiple visits to Kaladhera to understand the possibilities and limitations of the women artisans and work towards enabling them to create products of a quality worthy of competing in the domestic designer retail ambience.