Kanhai, headed by the talented ex-photographer Mukta Sharma, offers wide collection of beautiful gifts, home accessories and lighting by stringing colourful glass beads on brass wire! When we decided to kick start the Featured Designer series for the year, the dreamy, joyful accessories of Kanhai seemed like the best choice!
Read on for some exclusive peeps into Mukta’s design journey and challenges…
Can you tell us something about yourself?
Even though I don’t come from a professional design background, I have always been inclined towards design and aesthetics owing to my constant exposure to innovation, creativity and inspiration. After studying Economics, I moved into photography and trained under a renowned photographer before pursuing it further in Australia. I worked in the field of advertising and photography for 7 years before exploring the world of beads at Kanhai.
What made you switch from advertising and photography (fields that you were trained in), to the handicraft/design field? Did those earlier experiences help in you in setting up Kanhai?
Although I loved photography, and still hope to pursue it in future, I always had the will to create tangible things with my own hands. So when I got a chance to work with Kavita Datta( founder of Kanhai), beads seemed like-the perfect medium I was looking for to express my creativity. My passion and commitment to this field was so apparent that when she decided to retire she passed on the company’s future in my hands. Since then I have had several opportunities to create hands on. My experience in photography and advertising really helped as I could imagine our products from different perspectives and honing my design and composition sensibilities.
What made you choose beads as your medium of expression for design? What was the first product you designed for Kanhai?
Beads make a wonderful and a very versatile material. The variety of beads in terms of shape, size and colours created by artisans is unbelievable, and it’s wonderful to be able to discover something new about the medium every time. The first product I created was a spherical shaped lamp. Although the technique was conventional, just using a different dimension with turquoise poth beads gave it such a contemporary look! It’s still very special to me.
What/Who would you say is your biggest inspiration?
“During the work, you have to be sure that you haven’t left any holes, that you’ve captured everything, because afterwards it will be too late.” …Henri Cartier-Bresson, French Photographer His work and style of working has been a constant inspiration throughout my life.
What are the aspects of your work that you enjoy the most?
Well, that’s hard to say, because every step has its own sets of challenges and rewards. But just the fact that I have the freedom to imagine and create to my heart’s content is very liberating feeling. Also obviously, when our work is appreciated enough that people want to make it a part of their homes, lives and celebrations, all the effort seem worth it!
What do you consider the biggest challenge you face today related to your work or design in general?
The biggest challenge I suppose is coming from China, thats producing machine-manufactured not so nice replicas of our hand made products. I guess our market needs to develop and become more mature to appreciate the quality and beauty of a handcrafted well designed product.
Is there any design of yours that you consider your best? Which one is it and why?
Well, since all the designs created at Kanhai are so personal and made with so much effort, I think all our products are beautiful to me. However, our Enchanting Garden light has been my favorite and most liked by all our customers, probably because of the variety of décor types it can adorn, it has been one of our best creations so far. Its lovely colors, motifs, and the way it dances even in the daylight, make it more than just a lamp.
What is your vision for your work and design? Any exciting plans for the road ahead that you can share with us?
At the moment we are taking one day at a time. Every step brings along a mixture of challenges and rewards. Kanhai would like to continue creating more whimsical products and lights. And each day seems to shower us with new and crazy ideas for the road ahead! So where and how we progress, you and our lovely customers will be the first to know.
Can you share with us a dream project in your wish list?
There are so many-the potential with beads are limitless. But we really look forward to create a retail space for our brand, that’s the next big project. We really hope to continue creating wonderful products.
Your thoughts on Zaarga.
Zaarga was one of the first design focused marketplace that we registered with for online sales. Their team is very reliable, prompt and efficient. Very convenient for the seller, and provides a lot for the customer. Although retail oriented they also help designers get bulk orders. We hope to continue our relationship with them, and wish them all the luck!
Best Wishes and a very prosperous new year to Kanhai from all of us at Zaarga!