Straddling sommerce artisan traditions, and social responsibility
At Bindaas Unlimited India, our work has always straddled both commercial and social aspects of working in challenging rural situations. We have worked with rural folk artists in a transparent and fair manner for the last 25 years.
We make contemporary hand-block printed textiles with traditional hand printers in Rajasthan and Gujarat in India. We also make contemporary products in other materials like wood and paper. Our vision is to maintain and develop India’s incredible hand skills and aesthetic, and provide employment in a dignified manner. Since 2012, we have formally started a Charitable Trust through which we have undertaken a number of different projects with artists/artisans.
On the design front, we’ve created workshops in the areas of color schemes in printing, embroidery on textiles, and product development in paper and wood. These have been done by Sutanu Panigrahi, Puneet Kaushik and in-house by me. These workshops have been conducted by keeping in mind the folk artists’ sensibilities, design, and comfort levels. We have used their aesthetic and skills as a starting point, and through the workshop have taken them in a direction that would appeal to their urban buyers, without disturbing the sensibilities of the makers. The workshops have helped in adding more skills that allow the artisans to innovate the ideas further on their own.
In addition, we’ve provided these artists with market exposure, technical interventions, and supported other organizations working with underprivileged people and animals in need of help. Over the years, we’ve helped several thousand people in different ways. For example, most rural areas in India have an extremely erratic electricity supply. We’ve partnered with National Panasonic in their one billion lamp project and distributed solar lanterns with mobile phone chargers to artists who do textile hand printing, wood carving, paper making, embroiderers, weavers, and metal workers.
Furthermore, we are in the process of making infrastructural changes for the printers we work with so that their quality of work improves. Our printers typically dry their fabric on the very arid Rajasthani soil, and it is impossible to get rid of once the fabric dries. The unfortunate result is consumer who purchase these textiles receive the sandy soil as an unwanted free gift with the fabric. We recently started working on building a structure called an ‘adaan’ that will allow the printers to dry the hand-printed mud resist fabric they make in a way that it does not end up collecting the sandy soil. Our next project in the pipeline is an effluent treatment plant that will allow the artisans to treat the water so that it can be reused and be safe for release into the environment.
For more information, please visit www.bindaasunlimited.com.