I am an out-and-out Dilli Di Kudi, born and brought up in Delhi. I was always interested in the arts and my school provided a great opportunity to explore various mediums—be it dance, drama, music or fine arts— and we were always involved in cultural shows and art competitions. I do not know how, but I found myself participating in most of these activities. Perhaps it was an excuse to skip regular classes!
After graduating from high school, I filled out admission forms at 3 institutions — NIFT, NID and Hotel Management. I must have filled the application wrong, for I never received an admit card for the Hotel Management entrance exam—I guess destiny had its own plans.
This was also the time when a cousin of mine graduated from NIFT Delhi. I think she unknowingly led me towards a design education. In fact, she was the one who told me about NID! I secured admission at both NIFT and NID and then chose NID, as my parents and I took a great liking to the campus. Of course, it also gave me a wider choice of subjects.
I joined the undergraduate programme at NID, Ahmedabad in 2001. I went in thinking that I wanted a career in Visual Communication, specifically Graphic Design. The great thing about NID is that the foundation course exposes you to various disciplines of design and gives a student enough time to choose a suitable field. I decided to study Textile Design in my second year and thoroughly enjoyed it!
The joy of making your first textile piece on the loom is unparalleled. I was also lucky to find great internships with leading home furnishing companies in Delhi and learned so much from them. I worked for over 4 years after graduating from NID and travelled to many international fairs! This gave me a lot of exposure to international sensibilities.
In January 2010, I got married to Vivek and moved to Pune as he was working there. It made a lot of sense for me to quit my job and join him there and so that’s what I did. After moving to Pune and in between setting up a new home, I started taking up small projects, some with a senior from college and some on my own.
Given that time was a luxury I could afford, I became very active on the social media websites and started sharing my work on my blog “and another”. Subsequently, I also became active on facebook.
My work generated a lot of interest and I was very lucky to have been noticed by quirky shops and curators! With a lot of encouragement and help from my husband Vivek, we launched our brand Anek Designs in June-July 2010.
Both of us loved the name Anek (from the animated ek chidiya) especially since Kanika and Vivek join to form Anek (clichés and being cheesy is excusable when you are newly married). We started with only cushion covers, but over time, our range has expanded to Table Linen, Bed Sets, and Accessories like Art Jewellery, Gift Envelopes, Jackets, Stoles and Bags. We are regularly adding more products to the Anek range. Our products are bright and colourful, primarily traditional but could complement any modern setting while celebrating Indian craftsmanship and culture!
Work on Anek Designs started out pretty much the same way as the posts on my blog did. I started with the handcrafted textiles of India! Since I was new to Pune I had to rely heavily on the fabrics that were available locally but this wasn’t enough. We now source fabrics from Bengal, Assam (that’s where my in-laws are) M.P, Gujarat and Delhi. I use a lot of recycled Kantha Silks in my collection and am in love with this technique.
By and large, we use textiles sourced from all over India— old and new forms. These fabrics are then combined with our signature brights in a way that lends them a modern global gypsy vibe. We use stitching techniques like pleating, pintucks and patchwork extensively!
Vivek and I registered our company, Anek Designs, a few months ago and we are so excited. Soon, we plan to apply for an export license so that we can start selling through select boutiques internationally. Currently, Anek Designs is a very small enterprise and we largely work out of our spare bedroom—that is now the workspace and studio. We work with tailors and karigars who work out of their homes as well. Soon, I plan to set up a small yet formal workshop where the tailors can work.
We also get so many designs internship and job requests from young design students (it is a huge compliment, yes!!) and with a workshop in place, we will be able to invite them to come on board for small projects. So, our short-term goals are to get more organised and streamlined. I also work with architects and interior designers for textiles in residential spaces and thoroughly enjoy it! Being more organised will help us do more such projects as well.
We are already retailing out of six brick and mortar stores across the country and three online stores and working towards increasing these numbers. I also want to start experimenting with embroideries and prints soon. Lots of short-term goals for Anek Designs Insofar as the long-term future is concerned—who knows, I have never made such commitments and prefer going with the flow. Yes, I have been lucky like that!
Read the full feature on Prismma Magazine
Category: India Design