BY: Priyam Chhetri
What do we think about when we hear the word ‘fashion’? The glamour, the glitter, the sheen, the bold and beautiful aspirational lifestyle of millions.
What is it that is synonymous with fashion today? The term ‘Supermodels’. We say it all the time! Every designer wishes to showcase their best outfits on the most beautiful models, which they say enhances the outfit on its own. A model makes an outfit look good, a supermodel makes the outfit theirs and owns it!
The Earth without art is just…Eh. Rightfully so too, believes designer Madhu Chandrika, founder and director of Earthen Symphony, a Bengaluru-based design studio. Their art is one of kind, curated and created for the particular space that they are invited to work on. Hand painted in their in-house workshops, the final design emanates not just an intricate skill set, but also the strong will and passion of someone who strived to turn her dreams into reality.
“Twenty-two years of consistent effort and constant nurturing, and here we are,” she laughs, making it seem like it was easy. At first glance, it would be hard to guess otherwise. Even with a day-long flight on her, and her body clearly begging for some rest, her bright brown eyes show no signs of fatigue. Perhaps that’s her secret. She recalls the first time she decided to start a studio. “I was in the fourth year of college at Chitrakala Parishad. We had a three-month holiday. I was sitting at home and decided to self-fund a project that I wanted to do. I was into commercial art,” she says. Sure enough, she armed herself with some painted pottery and went to a nearby village in Andhra Pradesh called Chittur, and organised an exhibition. “There were about 300 of them and we were all sold out. I knew in that moment that this is what I was going to do for the rest of my life. I had named the company Earthen Symphony then, and it just stuck,” she says, her voice nostalgic and her face beaming with pride.
The 45-year-old’s studio and her art are a clear reflection of who she is. Spirituality and nature and the harmony in between seem to be a recurring concept. Her studio in Kasturi Nagar is filled with such designs. Though biased towards the abstract sect, metallic leaf motifs and saints are recurring inspiration too. In comparison with their contemporaries, her designs are not as complicated. “Art is for the people. This is one reason why I didn’t go the gallery way. It should be able to communicate, it should be clear from the artwork what it means to say,” she explains, her words reiterating her beliefs. She works with mixed-media, namely metal, silk, wood, printed paper, glass and recycled items.
Chandrika has designed for residential, corporate, institutional, hospitality and retail spaces. Her clientele includes names like UTC Aerospace, Hewlett-Packard, Christ University, Indian School of Business, Neelkanth Jewellers and Manipal Hospitals, to name a few. “We never really did much of marketing for the studio. It was mostly word-of-mouth. I can actually say I’ve never had an unhappy client. That’s one thing, our clients are the last say,” she says, adding, “On a lighter note, I guess now I can propose seemingly crazy designs because we’ve got an array of examples that lets the client know we can translate it into reality.”
She has her eyes next on the retail market. Earthen Symphony is launching a Catalogue collection that has 25 different inspirations, each containing an array of 15 categories each and about 900 pieces in total. The artwork will range from an affordable Six thousand Rupees to a whopping Three lakhs. I wanted this art to reach more people. I feel like that is why we started in the first place,” she ends, decisively.