By Hand From The Heart is a curated makers market event in Chennai, South India. UPCOMING EVENT: 24th – 25th, AUGUST, CROWNE PLAZA, CHENNAI
Today on our Meet The Makers Series; we feature jewellery designer, Razia Kunj of Razia Kunj Art & Facts, Mumbai. Razia talks about her jewellery line, how it all started, her workspace, inspirations and more.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and describe what you do.
I was born and brought up in the heart of Mumbai. My mother, an art teacher, would take me along to markets of Mohammed Ali Road, and Abdul Rehman Street, Bhuleshwar sourcing some particular paper or thread or material that she needed for her projects. These experience in my life are etched in my mind forever. Especially because I saw the process by which a material of any arbitrary shape or size or colour transforms into a beautiful piece of art. The process of making something extraordinary out of something ordinary was inspiring.
I trace my lineage to the founders of the Bhendi Bazaar Gharaana. This Gharaanais one of the vocal gharanas of indian classical music. So, art is in my genetic make-up. 🙂
I graduated in Applied Arts from Sophiya College, Bombay. For the most part of my career since then, I have been fashioning the success of brands. Be it creating logos and identity design for corporates or pack designs for some of India’s leading brands or fashioning the look and feel of advertising campaigns.
Graphic design exposes you to art across genres. From pop art to minimalism to traditional art to photo realism and so on. Somewhere along the way I started asking myself some questions:
Why must art only be hung up in art galleries?
Why must great design be enshrined only within the walls of museums and temples?
Why must street art only be on the roads?
I couldn’t rest until I found answers to resolve this. And sure enough the opportunity presented itself when my daughter started going to school. By some strange twist of fate, I got into designing jewellery. (This is elaborated later on in this piece.)
Why is making so important to you?
‘Maker’ is a term that I use to describe God. So, making for me is an act of devotion. Making by hand is the ritual with which an artist breathes life into anything that ignites their imagination. It’s an intensely personal act.
I do not just design my jewellery, I create them. I give it a little bit of myself. Gathering my raw materials, shaping them, and painting them with the palette of my imagination its like bringing it to life.
For me, making by hand is the most intimate aspect of creativity, almost spiritual.
What goes into creating a piece of jewellery?
To start off, I don’t work towards a range or collection or exhibition. I have to be moved by an aspect of life. I have to see the art in that aspect and it has to touch me. This could be a book I read, a place I visit. These images are then processed by my mind and eventually I see a pattern.
Once I have my concepts clear in my head I research, then doodle and then sketch it out elaborately. Post that I work on the computer.Then comes making prototypes. More than reaching the final product I enjoy this entire process. Every moment spent in the construction of a piece or in developing it is a moment of happiness.
Any design story you would like to share.
How I began is a very interesting story which I would love to share.
When my daughter was six years old, she had to perform Dandiya dance in school and I had to dress her up. I got her a beautiful Chaniya Choli but forgot about the jewellery completely. It was too late to go and purchase anything. I promised my daughter that when she wakes up for school in the morning I will find something suitable for her from my jewellery box. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything suitable for a six-year old in there.
Incidentally, at that time there was some carpentry work going on in my house. I saw some pieces of wood lying around the house. I collected some, painted it and stuck some sequins and mirrors, tied it with some beads and thread that I had in my craft cupboard. And a beautiful piece of jewellery was ready for my daughter. She was thrilled to bits to see her unique piece of jewellery.
That was the birth of this idea. 10 years ago.
I got so fascinated that I went and purchased some carpentry materials and started experimenting with new designs in the same medium. It was exhilarating to paint, beading and crafting each piece of jewellery since I have always liked to work with my hands.
My discovery went through its own evolutionary process. I started gravitating towards the art of adornment. And a year back I decided to launch my own jewellery line!
My designs take art from the walls of galleries and temples, from the pages of Indian folklore, from dance forms and tribal art, from forgotten nook and crannies of rural India and hand it to a woman as a form of adornment.
My inspiration also comes from everything that exists around me. What I feel, what I touch and what I have seen in the past, or experienced, and the effect it has had or created on me. I believe art is just a transformation of an ordinary experience into an extraordinary one. You just transform that feeling into another form. In that process you create something new, something beautiful.
Jewellery just happens to be the medium of expression for me. That’s why more than jewellery I like to call it wearable art.
What are your displaying at the By Hand, From The Heart.
I will be showcasing selected pieces from all my collection.
About your work space.
A large open work environment strewn with pieces of art, work tables, retro looking furniture and lots of materials and books. I prefer to call it ‘well-ordered chaos’. There is a lot of nature inside the office, on the balconies and all around my office. My primary inspiration! It makes me and my team feel at home. Coffee breaks are spent staring at butterflies or sun birds on the ashoka tree, among many other sources of inspiration.
What is a typical working day, like.
I start working right from the time I open my eyes in the morning. An idea doesn’t believe in a 9-to-5 schedule. It can occur anytime, anywhere. I am working when I am travelling, cooking, and so on In that sense, there is no boundary to where I work from.
What is your personal favorite pick from your collection right now? And why?
Its difficult to choose one, I love them all equally.
However, I particularly love the theyyam collection as I really enjoyed translating the intoxicating visual experience of the theyyam performance into a form of jewellery.
Handmade in India / Make in India-what does this mean to you?
Generally speaking, this part of the world and the Orient has a huge repository of hand-made art. I’d go so far as to say that the hand-made culture is nowhere as deep seated as it is in India.
Through my jewellery I tell the stories of my land, my people, my folklore, traditions, mythology, art, craft, dance and all the things that make up an idea called India. How can that story be anything but handmade.
By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – 20th Edition
Date: Friday – Saturday, 7th – 8th July, 2017
Time: 10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Venue: Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
Address: 132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India