"I am Sibanand Bhol and as an architect and designer I work towards creating environmentally responsible design solutions. I look for cultural and contextual connections in all of my...
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Sibanand and Shweta
"I am Sibanand Bhol and as an architect and designer I work towards creating environmentally responsible design solutions. I look for cultural and contextual connections in all of my work, and this is what initiated my work with crafts and artisans. I believe designing products featuring traditional crafts is the inception where the larger issues of a sustainable environment and livelihoods begin to get addressed. They are the building blocks, the components that come together to form the many elements of a larger space.
"I traveled widely in Orissa living and working with artisans in remote villages. I was observing, learning, exchanging ideas with them, and encouraging artisans to perceive their work from different dimensions. I constantly seek out ways to engage artisans in all my design projects. About five years ago a collective was formed to collaborate with different artisans and involve other designers; and we started inviting artisans to building sites to work on smaller sections of the project.
"I met Shweta, my wife, in 2006. She is a visual artist and was drawn towards traditional art techniques like Patachitra and Madhubani painting and their potential use as a medium for storytelling. She has deftly integrated these art techniques into the design of many contemporary themes.
"We work with soapstone, timber and bell metal. The stone is not procured through gigantic mechanized quarrying processes. Every soapstone product has its own set of unique patterns with subtle shifts in coloration. Plantation timber is highly valued as it is regenerative. Natural colors, prepared using centuries old traditional techniques, are used for painting.
"We make the designs for innovative products, and work closely with talented artisans. We strive to provide artisans with work opportunities, preferably in their own homes and villages. Artisans usually work in groups and very often when they are uprooted from their place of origin they lose a vital connection with their community and culture.
"Each product is completely hand crafted without the use of any mechanical tools. The stones are also locally quarried using manual tools. We work with soapstone quarried in Orrisa, which is softer than the ones you get in Agra or elsewhere. Hence, it can easily break during the crafting stage.
"Also, the nature of this type of soapstone is extremely grainy. Artisans use a variety of soapstones from different parts of Orissa that range from white khadipathara
and green kochilpathara
to pink. We tend to prefer the pink soapstone because it is uniquely beautiful with subtle variations in color and texture.
"We hope Novica art lovers will be able to share our enthusiasm and love for all things handcrafted. Only the most talented artisans can work with Orissa soapstone, and even then it remains a difficult task. That is why Orissa soapstone pieces are of a greater value."