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In conversation with textile designer Harini Chandrasekar
Harini Chandrasekar is a trained textile designer from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. Design schools in Sweden and Milan contributed to her education and gave her international perspective as well, after which she went on to teach and work across India and Europe in several capacities. Currently residing in the historic city of Boston, Harini works on projects in the realm of illustration, textile, murals, and product design.
You were trained as a textile designer. How did you get interested in design for spaces?
In my mind, textiles are always linked to a context and function. It is never just a pretty print. In that sense, this was a sort of logical application of the same sensibility to energise a living space by working directly on the wall instead of a textile screen. Still tactile and textural, walls allow for a playful expression of similar skills and sensibilities used in designing fabrics.
Your work with spaces primarily uses the wall as a canvas for creative explorations. Why?
Although I have worked on art and installations that stand separate from a wall, I find the ready wall simply less fuss to work with. It is literally a blank canvas that frames a space and just a few strokes or motifs placed strategically can convert a static room into a dynamic, exciting one.
In your work with the child’s playroom wall, you play with the idea of interactivity. What was the inspiration behind this project and how did you develop it into its final form?
My main muse for that particular project was my four year old niece. The aim was to create a safe playroom for her which could hold her attention. Given the fact that children tire of their toys easily and have short attention spans, I wanted to create an area which could amuse and engage her for hours. That is the thought that lead to creating different interactive zones in which she could communicate with the space differently every day allowing the room to adapt and grow with her. The interactive spheres appear in the form of chalkboard or blackboard paint as well as magnetic wall patches. The zones are large enough and scattered aesthetically all over the room allowing the doodle and artwork areas of today to become homework and reminder charts of tomorrow.
How do your Indian roots influence your work with interiors, such as the Warli inspired interiors for a home in Texas?
Warli combines the best of two of my passions—stories and craft! I have always been passionate about craft and the concept of ‘handmade’ and painstakingly created, each stroke a testament of love. Warli art is essentially panels of narratives that tell us about the tribe and its activities and beliefs through its simple yet intricate paintings steeped in wonderfully expressive age old traditions. The family for whom I created this wanted an Indian-inspired mural which would run across the walls of the room and integrate well with their existing furniture and art. Warli, with its clean lines and the simple use of just two colours seemed to work well to fit the space.
Your work shows great versatility of style and execution. Do you have a particular process with which you approach a commissioned project?
Being Indian and having worked closely with craft skills on many levels, that is such a big part of who I am, I believe it emerges through all my different styles of work. Commissioned projects are interesting as they come with their own unique constraints and the fact that there is already so much happening in a space that people have been interacting with and living in. My process is always simple. To try and create a fun space that also reflects the client’s personality on some level.
• All images courtesy Harini Chandrasekar
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