As you traverse the leafy bylanes of Goa, architectural buildings of the erstwhile colonialists come alive only to fade away once your bus jumps over a road divider and mutterings in local Konkani start drumming in your ear. Goa is a place where people head to for head banging sessions and meditation.
Before you think I am high on weed and nodding my head to the likes of Shiva Moon Remix, I want to clarify that weed is out of the question – no I don’t loathe weed but I decided to keep it out of my system since I will be interviewing a designer and not a trance artist.
If you are travelling to Goa, apart from the sights of colonial structures another common sight is of the rural scape, dotted with houses which epitomise the laid-back order of life defined by “khao”, “piyo” aur “aish karo”.
Talking about houses, I am staring at one, located at Chogm road in Sangolda, Bardez; it’s a quaint looking colonial house.Before you start guessing again, no this is not one of those spaces which people hire for a week of gay abandon, its a design studio which houses the exquisite work of designers Thomas Louis and Bhagyashree Patwardhan.
“Thomas and I first met at the NID 17 years ago. We both specialised in ceramic design but Thomas with his passion for clay and art stuck with the medium of expression and practised ceramic first at his studio in Bangalore, then some projects in Pune and then at Monkey Business – a studio we set up together,” responds Bhagyashree to my initial set of queries.
Thomas and Bhagyashree were very keen to explore the art ware space in ceramics without getting into large-scale production. Monkey Business was launched as a limited edition handcrafted high-end ceramic design and production studio.
Originally, a number of ceramic products were made from clay acquired locally from riverbeds. However, once the count of products increased, the clay was sourced from a dealer in Mumbai. The beautiful ceramic pieces are feigned in Goa itself, from glazing to firing; everything happens in an old Portuguese house with lots of land and greenery around.
While clay is still the visible force of the designer duo, their enterprise recently underwent a diversification with the launch of the Paper Boat Collective.
The Paper Boat Collective showcases the ceramic artefacts designed by the duo in addition to the works of fellow designers who have dwelled in the contemporary and handmade realm.
The pieces designed by Thomas and Bhagyashree include a plethora of products, from dinner sets to murals in ceramics. The functional products post the launch of the Paper Boat Collective have even moved on to furniture and garden landscapes. The duo also design a number of customised products as it helps to keep the innovation alive and allows them to do fun and varying stuff.
The process of designing a customised product right from the briefing stage to the penultimate stage can take anything between 2-4 weeks, while the production be it one piece or fifty always take between 4-5 weeks.
Bhagyashree and Thomas are both personally involved in designing the customised pieces; since Thomas has additional skills amongst the two with regards to the material he makes most of the products himself. The duo have also trained two helpers. Though they had no prior experience they were quick learners. In addition to the hand building skills, they now also help the designer duo in glazing, firing and a bit of manufacturing.
Apart from the studio, the designers have also launched a website for the net savvy shopper. On the other hand if you are planning a laid-back itinerary and wish to head back home with a memorable piece of designer clay, do visit the Paper Boat Collective in Goa.
Text By Vikas Bhadra