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Kambli
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  • Founded by textile designer Kamala Murali, kambli - for blanket in Tamil - is a design studio based in Chennai, India. Informed by traditional practices of repair and reuse, as well as ways of textile-making in India and other Eastern countries, kambli draws inspiration from Japanese boro cloth, Korean jogakbos, India's Siddhi patchwork quilts and traditional kaantha embroideries. There is an honest, distinctive quality to Kamala's textile work that explores the potential of discarded and surplus materials, and elevates it to that of luxurious, one-of-a-kind pieces made for contemporary living. In many ways, kambli is an endeavour: to re-examine our ideas of 'waste' by using what is at hand to make objects of value; to re-imagine our ideas of beauty by gently pushing the boundaries of textile design; and to ask that we use our design history as a map in finding values that may resonate with and help us to find our grounding in the present.

  • Kamala grew up in India and studied at the Srishti Institute of Art, Design & Technology in Bangalore. While there, and on assignment to source textiles from a second-hand market, she was amazed at the large quantities of surplus material and wondered why these textiles were undervalued. This is where kambli began, as an enquiry into how waste is collectively and exhaustively used and reused, and recycled in India.

    During her diploma project, the path-breaking, avant garde design practices of Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto inspired her own textile explorations into textile surface manipulation. Using scrap material and left-over bits from older projects, she developed a set of unique textile techniques that asked of its viewer: is waste really waste? Her project, titled Re:Fuse won her a graduation commendation certificate. Her M.A in Design Studies at Parsons, The New School for Design in New York City helped her contextualize her practice within narratives of India's design history, and informed her of the ways in which design extends well beyond the object.

  • At the heart of Kamala's textile practice is her fascination for heritage and heirloom objects, and a deep respect for the history of object-making and craftsmanship in cultures that have kept traditional ways of living intact until today. Historical narratives of Indian design have always positioned craftsmanship - the quality of something made by hand - in opposition to it's design agency - an action that produces a particular effect -, when in fact the act of making or crafting by hand is inextricably bound to its inherent power. Through questioning the historical narratives of Indian design and craft that take precedence today, Kamala explores ways of making, aesthetics of beauty and what is truly important when designing for the present.

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