As a writer the city of Delhi never fails to impress me. Regarded as the harem of the heart by many, there are a lot of spaces in the city which have hogged the limelight. Be it Chandi Chowk or the erstwhile Connaught Place, there is a glimpse of the past in the city which has a new wave of civilisation settling at its corridors of Noida and Gurgaon.
My ‘expedition’, if I may use the word, is limited to Vasant Vihar, a high-end locality in South West Delhi which is closer to Gurgaon. It is in this locality I am set to meet Anika Mittal and Tanya Khanna, the founders of Amalgam Studios, a design firm which emphasises on design as a craft and views it as a holistic experience.
As I make myself comfortable and wait for the attendant to inform her bosses regarding my arrival, my gaze falls on the certified degrees of the founding partners which adorn the wall of this well appointed office. As if trying to keep an eye on me, two sparrows already present at the window exchange glances, take a look at me and continue with their encrypted communication.
Few minutes into the conversation which has begun after half an hour of Delhi naama, we get into the specifics mode, albeit with a typical oratorical note with the partners.
“It’s surprising that Indian artisans are recognized across the world, yet contemporary Indian design does not recognize and appreciate Indian craft and locally available materials. We figured that the only way for it to survive is by adapting it to modern times. With intent to create a blend of convention and modernity, Amalgam was conceived,” says Anika.
Both the founding partners of Amalgam have had education stints in India and abroad. Anika and Tanya completed their B. Arch, from Sushant School of Art and Architecture, Gurgaon following which the duo enrolled in The Bartlett, University College London from where Ankita pursued her M.Sc in Urban Design whereas Tanya completed her M. Arch in Architectural Design.
The duo chartered into design territory with their hand crafted adventures in 2010; since then they have offered home and lifestyle accessories in wood, stone and inlay in Mother of Pearl and semi-precious stone.
The assorted range offered by Amalgam includes coasters, side tables, door knobs, placemats, table tops, boxes, cutting knives, trays and platters etc. Considering that quite a number of products in this list require the use of mechanical tools one wonders if all the products are actually handcrafted.
“Over a period of time innovation seeps into everyday life but the fact remains that handcrafted objects of daily use will utter a different story unlike the completely mechanized versions which are mass produced. The choice at the end depends on what gels well with your design scheme,” says Tanya. The design exclusivity of Amalgam Studios lies in the fact that they work directly with the craftsmen, innovating with materials and adding to their competencies through the implication of technology.
In the design universe, customisation is a keyword and Amalgam offers plenty of customisation across a number of parameters like patterns, textures and colours; coloured composite to semi-precious stones, traditional patterns to trendy, fashionable and modern interpretations – the studio is quick to adapt to the client’s requirements and function.
All the products offered by Amalgam are designed in their workshops based in New Delhi and Agra. Amalgam works with different craftsmen depending on the product, materials and technique. Usually the artisans are very adept at their work. “We provide the design to the artisan but we do take their viewpoint about the workability of each design. This helps us in designing a proper product which is not only creative and functional but also has better shelf life,” adds the duo.
Our readers are probably wondering why we have not made any mention of the timeline for completion of a customised product. Well, like a number of designers we have met the timeline for completion depends on the scale of the product and design complexity.
A lot of products made by Amalgam can be purchased online. Additionally their products are also sold at Rio Grande Departental Stores in Greater Kailash,New Delhi. But if your idea is to design a souvenir for yourself or gift one to a friend, do plan a visit to Vasant Vihar, we are sure you will come back impressed.
Text By Vikas Bhadra