Delhi-based designer Rohit Kant will jazz up your steely helmet, whiskey flask, card holder, wallet or a dusty vintage clock with images ranging from iconic rockstars to Bollywood villains and even freedom fighters
In 2008, after graduating in Fashion Design from the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) in New Delhi, designer Rohit Kant took the offbeat road. He packed his bags and set off for Pondicherry: "I was bored of being spoon-fed about design with a flowchart to enter the fashion industry. Instead, I preferred to travel and meet interesting people and see where it all led," says the 26 year-old.
A handpainted helmet
Over the next two years, by his own admission he met several "cool artists" who crafted artefacts from coconut, gunny bags, rocks and decorated shoes and just about anything with creative designs. Kant wandered around armed with his sketchbook and etched unique designs while residing in tree houses.
Vintage clocks and phones with handpainted designs by Rohit Kant
Epiphany at work
While the main motto of his journey was to achieve a spiritual awakening, in the process he realised his calling in life � design one-of-a-kind products that are utilitarian with an aesthetic value. His love for customised products also stems from personal experiences as he seldom found designs available for his size or budget.
After returning to Delhi, he held a solo exhibition of handpainted shoes. Through this he learnt that there was a demand for his designs. It led him to set up his 300 square feet shop By Rohit Kant at Hauz Khas where people drop in for customised designs.
"There is a lot of research that goes into choosing a particular design for the products. People browse the net, they think about what matters to them and in the process, the person becomes a part of the product. That lends a special importance to the finished product, which becomes an extension of your personality.
On my part, I am always hungry for good stories and interesting thoughts," he adds. So far he has handpainted and engraved designs on helmets, painted vintage clocks and phones and etched iconic images of rock star Jim Morrison, revolutionary leader Che Guevara and Spanish artist Salvador Dali onto whiskey flasks, iPod covers, iPhones, shoes, ties, cigarette cases, bags, Royal Enfield fuel tanks and pocket watches as well as images of the villainous Mogambo, freedom fighters Bhagat Singh and Gandhiji onto contact card holders.
While Kant varies the kind of colours and technique of painting based on the brief of the customer, he admits that the process is often quite surprising for him as well and he watches as like a spectator as the designs unfold. To aid the process, he often listens to loud music as he works all night and often heads out for walks for inspiration. Along the way, he boards the Metro, chats with people and jots down events in his diary.
One design at a time
His range of products also keeps changing as Kant loves working on newer products. "I feel that I am not growing as an artist if I replicate my designs," he admits.Some of the bizarre requests he has had was to handpaint images of Homer Simpson on a pair of used boxers (which he refused).
"But I mostly try never to refuse any work. I would prefer to screw up the design and come up with something new rather than not even attempt to design anything," explains Kant. If you are planning to order his customised products, be ready to order 45 days in advance. "I am a one-man team. From mopping up the floors to designing, I am in charge of every aspect," he laughs, admitting that he likes to work at his own pace. Next up, Kant is busy handpainting a bicycle and designing movie merchandise for Bollywood movies.