Founded by Rachita Sareen in 2015, Tarasha Designworks is an Ahmedabad based studio that is emblematic of our nomadic times. By reinterpreting a myriad collection of traditional imagery from across the country, Tarasha invites us to celebrate the nostalgia of our recent past.
With ‘designworks’ that are chiefly composed of multiple layers of brightly coloured paper, Tarasha’s pieces are quirky but thorough. Framed as dreamlike snapshots, you are offered refreshing cultural fragments that banal urban life robs you of experiencing. Trained internationally in architecture and furniture design, Sareen is conscious of the balance required between handcraft and laser-technology to arrive at a piece that is meticulously assembled.
And it is through this analogy of tectonic assembly, which both architecture and furniture design exact from its creators, that Tarasha Designworks’ mastery of material and cultural sensitivity manifests itself and their expanding repertoire holds much promise.
There’s a regional flavour in your work – Churches of Goa, House in Palanpur, the Chabutro – is this a conscious attempt to seek beauty in history or a celebration of places you’ve experienced?
The very first set of drawings that were converted into the Goa Collection were drawings I had made as a student. My love for Goa, its architecture, its culture, expresses itself in the details of my work. It’s been a similar case with Ahmedabad and the journey of creating both the collections has certainly been personal. Until now, this personal perspective had been a necessary catalyst for ideas and inspiration. From here on Tarasha Designworks will be paving its own way ahead!
Please tell us more about your background and training.
My early years were spent in various parts of India, till my family decided to put down roots in Goa. I completed most of my schooling and earned my Bachelor’s degree in Architecture while in Goa and it is here that I call home. After working for a couple of years in Bangalore, I joined the Masters programme in Furniture and Interior Design at the National Institute of Design in 2006.
Since then I have completed a Masters programme in Strategic Design Management from Politecnico di Milano, interned in a furniture company in the Philippines; worked in a furniture design firm in London and as an interior architect in Singapore. On returning to India in 2012, I moved to Ahmedabad and began teaching at NID as visiting faculty, while also leading the team that established Herman Miller’s presence in Ahmedabad.
I am presently the Founder and Creative Director at Tarasha Designworks and teach at CEPT University as Asst. Professor and Programme Coordinator of the Masters programme in Furniture Design.
What prompted you to start Tarasha Designworks?
Tarasha was a culmination of a lot of ideas and interests I had developed over time. It all came together quite unexpectedly while I was relooking at my work as a student and during my early professional years.
I came across a number of drawings I had made of Indo-Portuguese houses in Goa during my final year at college. After all these years, I was able to look at these drawings with an entirely fresh perspective. This, together with my interest in laser-cutting and other CNC technology, led to the creation of a unique product. The technique of cutting, layering and laminating paper made it possible to present these same houses in a way that really expressed their beauty and character. The Goa Collection was a very personal journey in that sense, and eventually led to the establishment of Tarasha Designworks, in Ahmedabad, in February 2015.
Does the name Tarasha Designworks have a story?
The name came through a search for something that evoked detail and quality; something that symbolises the rigour and time that is devoted to each piece developed at Tarasha. The words ‘tarasha hua’ mean ‘chiseled’ in Urdu and I felt it perfectly represented the ideology of the company. My rigorous training as a furniture designer had involved training in carpentry and I knew all too well the rigours of using the chisel and this made the name especially appealing to me. Designworks represents a conscious effort to make designed objects rather than art objects, in other words, the attitude is more a designer’s rather than an artist’s.
What drives product development at Tarasha?
Now that Tarasha has carved a niche for itself through its ‘Design Collectibles’ series, the drive comes from wanting to offer customers a much wider range of products that are uniquely ‘Tarasha’! Detail and quality are very important aspects of the company’s work and certainly major driving forces.
So far the product line has been more about beautiful objects – now product development is geared towards creating beautiful as well as functional objects. We recently achieved this with our highly successful Tarasha 2016 Calendar earlier this year.
There is a distinct tectonic language to your works – is this owing to your training in architecture?
My training in architecture has played its role in nearly all my work, whether it’s the language of my work, or even the way in which I approach a design problem. But my training as a furniture designer has had a larger impact in terms of my attention to details, an eye for precision, finishes and the overall quality of my work.
Similarly, is the style of overlaying cut paper inspired from a traditional craft or is it derived from the boon of lasercutting technology?
The techniques and style of production have been my own. It comes from a belief in using technology appropriately as a means for achieving quality and not as a pre-determined design factor. So the idea was not to create a product using laser cutting, but to create a good product for which laser cutting happened to be the most efficient tool. At the same time, laser cutting has made Tarasha’s products possible so it has definitely been an intrinsic factor in design considerations and product development.
There has been no influence of traditional crafts, except in sharing a similar respect for material, technique and quality that craft traditions have. As in crafts, our products are hand-assembled and yet unlike crafts, we use and are constantly in search of new technology to make our products better, more viable and easily accessible to customers.
Which contemporary artists and designers have inspired your work?
My professional work in furniture and interior design has been inspired by many masters over the years. At Tarasha, however, the idea came before the inspiration. After that initial idea, there have been many artists who have helped raise my benchmark of quality and detail. Some of the paper artists whose work I admire are Jen Stark, Elsa Mora and Hina Aoyama. I also have a weakness for highly detailed miniatures, whether these are traditional European doll houses or works of artists like Randy Hage, who recreates New York shop-fronts to an unbelievable detail. Another artist I greatly admire is MC Escher, in particular the rigor and precision that ultimately become what is beautiful in his works.
What new projects does Tarasha have in the pipeline?
We focus on a clientele largely from the home and hospitality sector and are working on a range of objects for this area, in particular a range of wall clocks and table objects. We also continue to work on existing and new themes for our ‘Design Collectibles’ series, through which we will feature other Indian (and perhaps international) cultures, architecture and heritage.
Currently, we are working on a collection of classical dance forms and traditional architectural styles of Kerala. In the future, we plan to add lighting and other lifestyle products to expand our product range.
Where can people buy your products: in-store / online / directly from you?
Currently Tarasha runs out of a studio workshop in Ahmedabad, where we run office operations as well as production. We sell our products through stores in Goa, Ahmedabad and Delhi but we hope to expand our store outreach further in the near future. We are also in the process of setting up an online store. Presently, we accept orders over email, phone or through our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/tarashadesignworks/).
Interview By Aftab Jalia