Today on our Meet The Maker blog series; we feature Karthik Vaidyanathan, VARNAM, Bangalore. Karthik will showcase VARNAM at By Hand From The Heart Makers Market, event in Chennai this February.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am from the Chettinad region of South India. Born and brought up in Mumbai I currently reside in Bangalore. An Engineer-MBA by qualification, I have worked for over 20 years in the media industry – music, radio and cable television. This includes companies like Sony Music, Worldspace Satellite Radio & Radio City among others.
Varnam was born in late 2011 during a trip to Mysore enroute Channapatna. The colourful toys of Channapatna left me fascinated and created an urge to know more about the craft. Being in a full-time job, I would travel to Channapatna over weekends and holidays. A few visits later, the first few designs of Varnam saw the light of day. Varnam has, thankfully, not looked back since.
Were you always interested in design?
I have always had an appreciation for design and aesthetics. Though not at trained designer, I have had the good fortune of being surrounded by some of the best design talent in the country and their approach to design inspires me till today.
About your venture.
Varnam Craft Collective is a multi-award winning social enterprise that has been working with artisans in Channapatna for over 6 years. The result is a series of designs interpreting this 200 year old toy-making craft in the home & lifestyle space and now even the women’s accessories space. Varnam’s product line includes lighting, Kitchen, dining & bar accessories , kids room décor/toys and Jewelry. In an industry where more than 90% of the artisans are men, many of Varnam’s creations have been deftly hand-crafted by women artisans. Varnam has been providing sustainable livelihoods on a consistent basis to artisan groups. Proceeds from sales of varnam are also invested in training women artisans who wish to learn this craft.
How would you describe Varnam’s aesthetics.
VARNAM (colours) Craft Collective is an ode to colourful India. My attempt has been to bring my own aesthetic sensibilities and design philosophy to traditional crafts. The idea is to reorient our crafts to the modern context by ensuring that each design has a utilitarian value and thereby relevant today. There is a constant dialogue with my artisans on current market trends in terms of finish, utilitarian value, attention to detail, etc. In doing so, I hope to enhance the sense of pride amongst our master crafts-people for their skill and ensure that these crafts continue to thrive.
What do you hope people think when they think of Varnam?
Design and sustainable livelihoods.
Varnam at the By Hand, From The Heart – What are your displaying ?
We will be launching our new range of block printed adult and kids apparel, TIPU’s TOYs inspired from our very own uniquely designed channapatna toys. We will also be bringing our popular toys , home accents and jewelry.
Meet the Maker @
By Hand From The Heart Makers Market 23rd Edition
Friday – Saturday
16th & 17th February, 2018
10:00 a.m to 8:00 p.m
Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park, (old Adyar Gate Hotel)
132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, India.