City-based brand Varnam has its inspiration in all things South Indian and makes colourful and contemporary versions of everyday objects
What if lacquer work native of Channapatna was turned into utility ware with a contemporary touch and some serious design intervention? Varnam, a city-based brand by Karthik V does just that.
Varnam, Sanskrit for colours, is a rather appropriate name as one of the first things you will notice about this essentially Indian brand is the use of bright colours. No more than five months old, Karthik started this as a small venture, a mere hobby. "I used to travel to villages around Karnataka and work with artisans.
Kutthuvilakku Rs 650
I have always been sensitive towards the artisans' community. It was purely a passion and felt like a great way to give back.
I was inspired by this book called Handmade In India and wanted to revisit traditional crafts in the state. I would meet with artisans and provide basic design intervention," he adds.
Varnam uses lacquer work to produce tea light holders, lamps and the quintessential South Indian lamp Kutthuvilakku. "My inspiration always comes with nostalgia. So, anything South Indian counts as inspiration," says Karthik.
Thus the traditional bharni (jar) is reinterpreted in its miniature form as a tea light holder and the kuthuvilakku, signifying prosperity, is turned into a lamp base with a leaf brocade shade. Varnam also, creates embroidered cushion covers.
All the products come in bright colours like chrome yellow, red, green and orange and promise to brighten up your house. "Anything that has a basic circular form can be worked on with lacquer. There are limitations, but the vilakku lent itself beautifully to the art form," says Karthik.
Dealing solely with Channapatna lacquer work currently, 38-year-old Karthik, who comes from an engineering background, has plans of exploring other forms of art in the future.
"I hope to work with more artisans from the state in the future. I plan to explore Kasuti, embroidery typical of Karnataka and stone work," he says. "It usually takes a few months and quite a few weekend trips to set things up," he adds.
This Diwali, let the kutthuvilakku come home in a colourful and contemporary form, even though you might not be able to light it up for a lamp.
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