|Bhujodi weaves from Gujarat innovated by textile|
designer Bheda to make fabric softer and lighter
FAST FACTS :
Prominent institutes: NID, NIFT, Pearl Academy of Fashion, Shristi, JJ School of Arts;
Programmes: UG, PG;
Selection for UG: Studio & written tests + interview;
Aptitude: Interest in textiles and crafts, creativity, drawing skills;
Who is hiring:Fabric retailers, export houses, buying houses, textile mills, handloom cooperatives, fashion designers, design studios and buying agencies.
CHANDRASHEKHAR Bheda’s first brush with textiles was in Class 7, when his mother suggested he stop whiling away his vacation time and lend a hand in the local cloth shop. Here in his hometown Sangamner (Maharashtra), located in the belt of handloom weavers, he had to sell everything from materials and sarees to shirts, to people who came from the neighbouring villages. In retrospect, he feels the experience sowed the seeds for his future career path.
However, it was the 1970s, and design was an unheard of vocation in most households! But he was already winning art competitions in school and saw applied arts as an outlet for his talent as well as a way to earn money. So he pursued an undergrad diploma in textile design (TD) at the Sir JJ School of Arts, Mumbai, followed by PG in TD at the coveted National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad. And his love for textiles is evident. Seema Mahajan is also passionate about textiles. “Fabric is so versatile,” explains the HoD of Pearl Academy of Fashion’s textile design department. For one, it is the raw material used not only to create garments and accessories like jewellery, footwear and handbags but also soft home furnishings like curtains, table linen, bed covers and kitchen linen.
The latter are used in residences, and in large quantities in sectors like hospitality and the medical field. Technical textiles with specific properties are used in fields such as defence and transportation. Designer Poorvi Mathur who pursued a PG in Textile Design at NID, assisted an architect during her final year project. “I designed a false ceiling of fabric for a cardiac rehabilitation centre (to improve acoustics),” she recalls. Hence, the challenge for any textile designer is to understand the end function and designing fabric, accordingly.
A. A Textile Designer at Raymond is responsible for all-round development of fabric. From understanding market requirements through feedback on existing products and new product ideas, to collating fashion trends on display at trade fairs, and forecasting trends for the coming season, the textile designer dons the role of a design analyst. Taking these inputs to finalising design and the colour story for various collections through the seasons and developing new products, makes our designers, key players in the product development and marketing life cycle.
Q. Will the demand for textile designers go up in the future?
A. It could be said that Textile designers are at an all-time high demand now on account of strong domestic and increasing outsourcing needs from foreign countries for quality products from India.
Q. What do you seek in a new recruit?
A.We especially look for candidates with an innate interest to innovate.
In textile paradise
India, home to five basic fibres – silk, wool, jute, cotton and linen – is a mass producer of textiles. Within silk alone, India produces not one but six varieties including mulberry, tasar, eri and muga. Homegrown techniques like weaving, dyeing, printing and embroidery can be used to treat raw fibres in myriad ways to give them a complete facelift. This variety makes the canvas for Indian textile designers pretty exciting, and if you are willing to travel even more so.
|Handpainted silk stoles by Mithila craftsmen from |
Madhubani District in Bihar
Today, textile design graduates can work full-time as designers or fabric managers for export houses, buying houses, textile mills, handloom cooperatives, with fashion designers, design studios and buying agencies. Poorvi’s first job was with Synergy lifestyles, a home furnishings export house in Mumbai, where she had to make product samples for buyers according to seasons, as well as their requirements/style. “We had to source fabrics from local markets, design weaves, embroidery and print patterns to go with the collection and make well-styled products,” recalls Poorvi, who doubled up as photographer and clicked pictures for the company catalogue.
Prominent companies: Arvind Mills, Raymond, Indian Terrain, Grasim Industries Ltd., Madura Brands, Fab India, Synergy Lifestyles, Mafatlal Industries, Nahar Industries, Shingora International, Ambadi Enterprises, Crew BOS, Mahajan Overseas, Himmatsingka Seide, Abhishek Industries, Welspun India, Shades of India, Linenscapes (India), Textrade International, Mura Collective, Portico, Creative Mobus Fabrics, Rateria Exports, Triburg, Bharat Silks, Third World Exports, The Shop
|Textile Art mural for Suzlon by Bheda|
Besides focusing on design, being driven and getting savvy in areas like marketing and management, is inevitable for an entrepreneur. One can also be an independent design professionals like Chandrashekhar who realised a long time a ago that a full-time job was not his cup of tea. “For me, the approach is very important. The freedom to be creative yet be relevant to the market place, and to be able to bring influences like cultural heritage, crafts or regional sensibilities, to name a few,” he shares. His projects range from creating home textile design collections for domestic retail stores to working with architects and interior designers to do all the home furnishings in a household.
Research is king
The main aim of Amole’s space design project was to redo a physical space using one’s knowledge of textile techniques. But the project that was to be wrapped in six weeks, took him two and a half months! “We cannot come up with a conclusion if we don’t do enough research,” he explains, giving us a taste of the rigour of projects at NID.
His challenge was to suggest ways to revive the Calico Dome, which collapsed in the 2001 earthquake and make the space functional again for the people. In its heyday the Dome served as a retail outlet for Calico Mills, which produced some of the best textiles in the country.
Amole suggested a textile installation in the open space below the dome, and the basement could be used for exhibitions. To give the installation a 3D effect, he suggested using a technique called origami tessellation (image below), that involves no cutting, stitches or glue. All it takes is one single piece of cloth and of course, some painstaking handiwork.The final output was a 46-page document, rich with sketches, research and photographs.
Welcome to the jury
Like all design students Amole had to present his project to a panel. Juries can be attended by anyone – juniors, seniors and classmates, and they can prove to be a nerve-wrecking experience. “Even today, the jury is scary as they can make you sweat,” he shares. The challenge is to defend your project work without getting emotional. In the final semester the jury is a closed one.
Into the classroom
Student exchange programmes is another value-addition. Amole, a final-year student at NID, had the opportunity to attend one semester as an exchange student at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs (ENSAD) in Paris, where he was exposed to transfer printing, knitting and other new techniques. He is now preparing to take on his final year diploma project in an upcoming area – automotive textiles, which involve designing the interiors of cars. “To bring in an Indian textile influence,” he shares.
One can also pursue a Bachelor in Fine Arts with a textile design specialisation, which focuses strongly on the technical skills. However, as the number of seats in design institutes and Fine Arts colleges is limited. Another route is a BSc in Home Science, which offers a textile component. For instance, Lady Irwin College offers Fabric and Apparel Science as part of BSc in Home Science, and an MSc Home Science in Fabric and Apparel Science. Unfortunately, Home Science courses accept only women. Polytechnics and craft institutes also offer programmes, and many textile designers and smaller studios do select students from these institutes as assistants, full-time or on a project-basis. Ultimately no matter which route you take, creativity, a passion for textiles and the drive to learn as much as you can, will give you the edge!
Select institutes and courses focusing on textile design
No of seats
National Institute of Design (Ahmedabad)
Graduate Diploma in Design
2,10,800 (per year)
PG Diploma in Textile design
2,55,800 (per year)
Sristi School of Art, Design and Communication, Bangalore
Professional Diploma Programme
NIFT (Bengaluru, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Chennai,
Gandhinagar, Hyderabad, Kangra, Kannur, Kolkata,
Mumbai, New Delhi campuses)
Bachelor of Design (Textile design)
Rs. 61,750 per semester
Pearl Academy of Fashion (Delhi, Jaipur)
BA (Hons) Textile Design
PG Diploma in Textile design
MA Design (Fashion & textiles)
Sir JJ School of Arts, Mumbai
BFA Textile Design
Approx Rs 700 per term
Lady Irwin College, Delhi
BSc (Home Science)
MSc (Fabric and Apparel Science)
Sophia Polytechnic, Mumbai (women)
Diploma in Textile Design
South Delhi Polytechnic for Women
Textile & Apparel design
Appox 45,000 for full programme
Indian Institute of Crafts & Design, Jaipur
UG Diploma in Craft design
PG Diploma in Home Textiles
|Illustration by Amole for a student project|
|Origami tessellation used in a shade to by Amole|
| Close-up of Origami tesselation by Amole|