Textile design company Safomasi has a new collection, Salcombe inspired by co-founder Sarah Fotheringham’s childhood holidays in Salcombe, Devon in the southwestern coast of England. Think blues and greens and beaches, rock pools, sailboats and tea (yay!). Safomasi is known for their bright, contemporary prints on quilts, pillows, cushions and other textiles for the home that are inspired by travels around the world. I had done a long interview with Team Safomasi, Sarah Fotheringham and Maninder Singh for the magazine last winter and I am sharing that here too. I love beautiful textiles but I love hearing about the people behind the fabric even more. You can visit Safomasi at www.safomasi.com.
One of the greatest perks of running a blog is that I get to meet one amazingly creative individual after the other. Sarah Fotheringham and Maninder Singh of the brand Safomasi that makes hand-printed, home textiles are just the kind of team whose story of inspiration, creativity and serendipity, one you want to hear. Their designs for Safomasi are contemporary, with elements of pop art. They combine vivid colors with patterns that take inspiration from their travels all over the world. The result is modern, colorful and very chic! Their products have won them an Elle Deco International Design Award (EDIDA), India 2013 in the Bedroom category for their Camel Trader’s set of quilt and pillows. They are based in New Delhi, India and we talked to Sarah and Maninder on how Safomasi came about and their plans for the brand.
Sarah: “I was always interested in art and design – my grandmother was very into embroidery and textile art, my uncle is a product designer and my aunt a jeweler, so it was always around me. I was born in Singapore and grew up in India and England before going to study Illustration at the University of Brighton (UK). Several years later, in 2010, I came to India to go traveling for 4 months – I hadn’t been back since my family left when I was 12. I was lucky to meet the Creative Director of ad agency Wieden + Kennedy (I’d done a placement in their London office) and was offered a job, so in July 2010, I moved to Delhi to work as an art director.”
Maninder: “I’m from a village near Panipat in Haryana, India. Craft was always in my family – my grandmother used to make dhurries and quilts, and Panipat itself is a very famous area for handloom textiles. After school, I moved to Delhi to study, before spending a year in the fashion industry in Mumbai. I then moved to Australia for 5 years, for study and work, before coming back to Delhi in April 2010 where I got a job with the Fashion Design Council of India. A lot of our story is serendipity – we met in Delhi, in December 2010, started seeing each other and after a couple of years, slowly started working together.”
Sarah: “I had a lot of sketches and ideas for prints from my travels that I wanted to apply to fabrics. India is so rich for textiles, it’s so inspiring, and as an illustrator and artist, I really liked the idea of artwork being applied to a product, something in the home that has a use as well a story behind it. We started with sampling the mithai print – simplifying felt tip sketches that I had made whilst I was traveling, into a design for a screen print. Through Maninder’s connections in the fashion industry, he managed to get initial samples printed. We really enjoyed the process, and came up with the idea for Safomasi – to create collections inspired by our travels. So alongside the “mithai” print, we developed a collection based on travels to the Pushkar Camel fair. We realized that we needed one of us to go full time to make real progress- especially on the production side – so Maninder started full time. Slowly, with each collection, we received more and more interest, and now, we are both full time and have just moved into a new studio space – part workshop, part showroom. Previously, we’d been working with different people to finish different products, but now the idea is that we’ll do as much as we can in-house. Again, a lot of this is serendipity – we hadn’t planned to do any of this so soon, but Maninder had casually started looking for a studio just to get a feel for what was out there, and almost immediately found this great space – so we just went for it!
What were the challenges and triumphs?
Sarah & Maninder: “Everything has been a challenge! Particularly, finding the right suppliers and vendors. One of our biggest challenges has been to get the quality right. We are very particular about details, so we are always following every step of the process during production. As we do limited runs of products, it’s been hard to find people who want to take this on – and who will follow our timelines. That’s when we came to realize that we needed to set up an in-house unit and do as much as we can ourselves. In terms of triumphs, it’s just lovely to hear from people who appreciate our designs, the stories behind them and the work that goes into them. We felt very proud to win the ELLE Déco International Design award (EDIDA) for the Camel Traders design from our first collection – it was a surprise to win something like that after just a year in business…We’d love for Safomasi to become a full lifestyle store with a range of products, from homeware – textiles, ceramics, furniture, rugs, etc. to accessories and maybe, even clothes. We’re not looking to start a physical store at the moment, though our new studio has a showroom area, which serves as a retail space by appointment. But a proper physical store would be fantastic in the future! We’d also love to work on collaborations with brands in different fields, and on interior projects, for example, bespoke wallpaper or textiles for a hotel. At the moment we’re working on a project called The North East Project which is a collaboration with different designers and Impulse, a social enterprise based in the north east of India. They work to help people of various tribes to nurture their traditional skills and help them to earn sustainable livelihoods. For this project, we are using traditional fabric woven by women in Assam, and adding a second layer of design, printing on top to create a small, unique range of tableware and cushions.
Image credits: Safomasi
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