Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A north-south collaboration: Khamir + Kara Weaves

Design of our invite for the show together with Khamir
In 2008, a year after our collaboration with the Banyan, we got in touch with Khamir, a non-government organization from the northern state of Gujarat. Through a chance re-connection with some of her earlier collaborators while in Ahmedabad (the wonderful Sushma Iyengar), Indu heard of the wonderful work of the Khamir resouce center as a way to revitalize Kachchh's creative industries. She contacted the director Meera Goradia and learnt that they was seeking to do a sale & exhibition of their work in Bangalore with a collaborator. Upon hearing what we do, Meera asked if we would be interested: and of course we said yes!

A quick snapshot of Sushma Iyengar with Surya at the show
We decided to do the event in early October, so we could target the festive season of Divali in India. What we were hoping for was to showcase out work at a venue that catered to a clientele that understood the value of handmade work and the support the artisan communities needed to sustain themselves. Indu again asked her fantastic social network (shout out to Anita Dumra!) and found out about the Raintree Cafe and Boutique that could be a good venue for such an event. This colonial style 75 year old "bungalow" with its beautiful garden and shop space was a dream-location for a show. We contacted them and they were open to working together and spreading the word! Once again, our team was at the drawing board, charting out details of this exciting event.
The Raintree Boutique and Cafe in Bangalore
The Raintree Boutique's colonial style bungalow
I was in charge of designing the entire event branding. Of all the design projects I had undertaken for Kara, this proved to be the most challenging as this involved the identity of another brand as well. The invite had to have the common grounds of both the organizations, yet not be too specific to each and still look interesting enough. We had budget limitations, so we I created some custom typography and went with a non-photographic treatment. I was quite happy with how it turned out and integrated with the spirit of the event. We got them printed at a small rural letter-press printer near our office in Kerala; the press was part of the school for the hearing impaired children run by the Assisi Convent in Neerpara. The handmade look of the invite worked really well with both our brand images, most of all both the teams were pretty thrilled with them!
Front and back design of the invite with a typographic drawing on handmade paper
The single-color invite design with write-ups about both our projects.
At the event, the products from both our organizations complemented the other perfectly: the intricate, textural and colorfully thick weaves of Khamir sat really well with the breezy, white, tonal fabrics in our collection. One catered to the cozy winter while the other favored a light summer. The crowds responded really well to this collaboration and the event was a huge success for us, both commercially and socially. The large guest list of the Raintree boutique along with our pooled resources in Bangalore, ensured we had a very nice turn out during the days of the show. 
ps: I wish I had more pictures of the wonderful people at Khamir, but alas, could not find them in our archives!
Indu, Lakshmi and Surya adding the finishing touches to the set-up
Lakshmi with our event-signage at the Raintree boutique
We also got several close family members involved in the event: cousins, aunts and more! They all pitched in during the event too, taking turns being the "sales persons" at the event and providing guests with information and flyers about our work. Our dads and husbands also joined in the fun, taking an occasional break. Here are some "unofficial" pictures from before and after the event.
Poonam and Piya, my fun cousins help Indu and Surya set-up for the show.
Mid-installation, Indu and Lakshmi unwind a bit
Lakshmi demo's the hair-wrap while Poonam looks on :)
My dad and uncle who helped with the billing, take a well deserved break for some laughs

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