Aadikara by Debasmita Ghosh depicts the interests of bold, risk-taking, bespoken jewellery carved in tunes with the wonders of nature. Her designs are a delight for jewellery lovers made in lines of a confident woman – radiant and fierce.
There are no boundaries or limitations when it comes to exploring the grounds of creativity or experimental ideas. Well, this remains the same for one of any woman’s favourite possessions – jewellery. From coloured stones to body jewellery – this global market has seen variations that are awe-worthy and absolute delight. Experimental and challenging designs spark our interest and lately, Indian jewellery label Aadikara by Debasmita Ghosh has been able to beautifully craft tales of nature through glass art.
Inspired by nature, Aadikara features transparent blooms, neckpieces featuring blown-glass beads and teal glass rings, edgy hair accessories, flora brooches amongst many. Debasmita says, “I draw most of my inspiration from the natural world around me. Its details, intricacies and nuances, the coherence and harmony amidst the abundance or even scarcity, which I have observed growing up in various landscapes in India, is something which I always try to express and give a form through design.” A flawless blend of intricate works and unconventional designs – she has carefully captured the desires of today’s women – bold yet feminine. She enlightens, “Through a medium like glass, fragile yet omnipresent in human life, I want to explore the possibilities in wearable artefacts and other products that gel along seamlessly with the natural and built environments around them.”
The label sparks the enthusiasm of pushing the boundaries of edgy looks. She tells us more about the inspiring women entrepreneurship, uplifting the local artisans and why celebrating the classical art of glasswork is important.
How did your journey as a designer begin? Were you always interested in the art of jewellery making?
I was always captivated by the process of creation or just making things on my own. Since my childhood – household activities, the nature around me, various material and the possibilities to play around with them were a matter of exploration or a creative adventure for me. It did take a formal turn as design education when I grew up, and I ended up studying accessory design from NIFT Rae Bareilly and later, Ceramic and Glass Design from NID, Ahmedabad.My interest in jewellery too developed as a part of exploring various materials as a design student and the possibilities and extremes of wearable accessories was something that intrigued and fascinated me, as a possible area of pursuit for Design and Entrepreneurship.
What made you go forward with glass jewellery? Were you ever apprehensive about the idea?
I had been exposed to the medium of glass and the rich tradition and heritage of artisans behind the making of glass artefacts in India, at numerous instances – as a student, as a researcher and then finally while exploring possible areas of design intervention during my graduation project at NID. I wanted to work on a project which involved working with artisans, craft clusters; involved a medium and material; challenging enough for a potentially unique range of outcomes. That was the initial thought to go ahead with glass jewellery. To begin with, I was apprehensive, since the glass as a material in the context that I was about to work with, had its challenges in terms of acceptance as wearable accessories and also to come up with a system which can enable me to produce designs envisioned with artisans and craft clusters who were primarily not exposed to this kind of work before. But, I guess the thought of going through a process quite different from the existing work culture in glass, was in itself, exciting enough to take the task forward. This was also asserted with a growing market for the handcrafted and the appreciation for experimental design in the overall scenario.
Can you illustrate for us the creative and manufacturing processes that are followed while curating a piece of glass jewellery?
Since my work involves collaborating with various craft clusters and artisans, the design process has to inculcate the skills which the artisans possess, not as a limitation but as a pointer to maintain an overall cohesivity and seamless production. Through a continuous process of working on paper, some designs are taken forward for form explorations in glass and accordingly, ergonomic and aesthetic decisions are taken to finalise a set of designs to be produced. Once the glass component is produced and tested, it is then sent to the craft cluster working on the metal component simultaneously and then the assembly happens to create prototypes. Once the prototypes are checked and finalised, a desired quantity of jewellery is produced. The entire process involves various techniques of glass and metal moulding and joineries and the best possible chain of techniques for each type or range of jewellery differs, according to the specific requirements.
How has your art uplifted the local craftsmen and the art of glass-blowing?
The craft clusters I had visited and the artisans I had interacted with had a huge legacy and body of work with glass as a material. They were producing toys, utility products and laboratory apparatus since generations. Their work represented immaculate skills but the overall work environment suggested a gradual shift towards using the craft majorly for utilitarian purposes and earning a living. It also made me think of the dying artistic value which the artisans possess. I conducted workshops with the artisans to understand their technique and slowly introduced them to the process that I had envisaged for a range of experimental jewellery. There were flamework artisans, lathe artisans and metal jewellery artisans who became a part of these workshops and then it transformed into a mutual learning process and growing together. As of now, through my work display and sold through various design and fashion outlets, I have been able to garner attention towards the crafts I am exploring, to a worthy extent, and the entire engagement is enabling me to gradually figure out a sustainable economic model for the crafts and craftsmen that I am working with. It is still, a long journey ahead and the process is the outcome.
Glass is considered a fragile element. Are there any specific methods for its maintenance?
Glass is definitely a fragile material but is also something which is an integral part of a lot of objects that we use in our daily lives. I think the fragility of this material is something which we know well and are used to work our ways around with. I use borosilicate glass which is relatively less brittle than soda lime, a more commonly used form of glass. Apart from keeping in mind, the possibilities of breakage while designing the jewellery, I store and package them with cotton in the boxes that I select according to the size and shape of the jewellery. The packaging is well suited to carry, travel with and even store it with other jewellery and accessories. There is no specific or special maintenance required once you overcome the fear of handling it. Most of my clients now keep the jewellery with their regular use accessories and handle them with equal ease.
As a woman designer, you have carved out your own way of making strong and unconventional jewellery. According to you, has there been any significant changein the industry in terms of women entrepreneurship?
I have personally seen a lot of my contemporaries grow as designers and entrepreneurs and with possibilities of sharing one’s work growing and multiplying multi-folds through the internet and design-sensitive curation, I see more and more women pursuing their work with love and without stress to compete with fast design and consumption trends. This change, I think is here to stay and is a very encouraging factor to take up unconventional tasks, do meaningful work and create an impact. It is a time of holistic growth, as far as women entrepreneurs in the field of design are concerned.
Were there initial struggles while starting Aadikara? What were the challenges?
Apart from figuring out the market viability of a relatively new concept in jewellery design, a major obstacle was to create designs that can enable my audience to overcome the hesitation of wearing a glass accessory and embrace it with comfort. Another struggle in the initial days was to figure out a common ground of understanding and chain of production with the artisans, who although profoundly skilled in their workmanship with glass, was yet to absorb a new form of design and respond with equal enthusiasm and vigour as mine. Packaging for transportation and storage was another struggle which did take a considerable time to be figured out.
Do you think glass jewellery will make it big in fashion? Where do you think the acceptability lies?
I don’t see myself directly associated with the fashion industry. I prefer to be described as a designer who collaborates with artisans and craft clusters. Having said that, I do see fashion as one of the fields where my design thinking and process and the body of work is applied as and when required and it is progressing in this manner, till now. As a designer, I prefer to look at the bigger, more holistic and sustainable picture of the work that I am doing. I would want my work to be looked as a long-lasting statement rather than an industry satisfying trend. Be it fashion or any other field in which I might want to take my work forward, the acceptability of my work shall lie in a shared vision, with the people that I would engage with – both collaborators and users. If this collective vision grows and expands like this, it will subsequently pave the way for glass jewellery to get noticed and accepted at a much larger scale than it is, currently.
Any cultural or trend shifts that you want to target with your brand?
I find the entire shift towards slow design and consumption to be an area of immense possibilities and deeper interventions as designers, and generally as human beings. It is a critical time to be alive and be responsible for one’s own actions and the kind of work one wants to be represented with. I want my brand to address issues of sustainability, environment-friendly production and creating a culture around wearable accessories aimed at making people comfortable, conscious and aware of the importance of slowing down and appreciating the details within and beyond the natural and human-made world
Images by Aadikara