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The story of Vriksh!
Vriksh is an alternate design studio started by textile designer, Gunjan Jain based in Bhubaneswar, Odisha and New Delhi. Vriksh works with handloom weavers and artists to bring in contemporary aesthetics in its textiles, ensuring traditional designs are re-interpreted by retaining the values that existed and adding a fresh perspective to each piece.
Gunjan says “After working in the apparel export industry for a few years, I packed my bags in 2007 and moved to Odisha. While working in big metros like Delhi and Bangalore I had found it difficult to relate to the industrial process of making clothes — the most intimate commodities human beings use. Those early years in Odisha with one of the world’s oldest and greatest traditions of weaving changed my life. I dived head first into the world of the handmade.
I didn’t want to be the urban designer who just handed over sheets of papers to the weavers to get the job done. I was determined to create an egalitarian partnership in the design process. Along with ensuring fair wages and a better marketing platform I had to constantly introspect for ways in which I could build, not damage their confidence.”
What’s special about Vriksh?
Vriksh has been on a quest to revive some of the dying weaves of Odisha particularly the Bomkai and the Dhalapathar. They are among the rare original weaves that Odisha was once famous for. When Vriksh began its work in Odisha, the region’s under-explored and under-appreciated range of fabulous textiles were a key motivation. From the finest tussars of coastal Odisha to natural dyed cotton saris from the tribal belt of Koraput to rare Bomkai, Dhalapathar, Habaspuri saris and many more, there was so much of Odia textile that the world needed to see again. And this is where Vriksh began its interventions.
Vriksh encouraged weavers to return to their art with a fresh appreciation for their own creativity and skills. Maximum emphasis was to create an egalitarian partnership in the design process. Along with ensuring fair wages and a better marketing platform, there is constant introspection for ways in which they could build and not damage the weavers’ confidence. Vriksh has encouraged weavers to return to their art with a fresh appreciation for their own creativity and skills. In 2013, four tussar weavers from the Vriksh community bagged the prestigious Odisha State Handloom Awards 2013 for best design and weaves from the Odisha govt.