Namaste. This is a mini-series about a design intern’s experience in Jaipur, India, where she had the opportunity to experience a new city, on-the-ground operations, and design processes first-hand. This is the first of three parts, and she hopes that you will enjoy it.-------
Initial arrival to India was a struggle to seasonal fog, but the trip was well worth it. I had never been to a developing country before, so stepping out of the New Delhi airport was entry to a new world. The weather was mild, and the sky hazy, but mostly, there were people, people, and people everywhere, even places I wouldn’t expect them to be. There were signs, sounds, things all vying for my attention -- the city screamed of chaos, and life. Right at the exit, I met Marissa, Symbology’s lovely founder, and we set off for a 5-hour drive to Jaipur.
Indian traffic, something I will probably never get used to. Traffic lines exist, but mean little. Let’s say that I never knew cars could be so nimble until I came to India.
We arrived Jaipur much later that day, but I could tell it was very different from New Delhi. It is less of a “big city”, and there is more decorated, famously pink, stone in place of glass and steel. There is less tech and more knick-knacks, and animals (mostly dogs) on the streets. Still lively, but a lot less of a “big city”, and in my opinion, more charming. In comparison to modern Delhi, Jaipur feels more laid back and artistic. The interior of our hotel room at Pearl Palace (essentially Marissa’s second home) was also beautifully furnished with patterned curtains, wallpapers, and paintings, which contributed to the artistic vibe. India’s art is colors, patterns, organic swirls, both natural and complex. Different from I usually see.
I slept well- work began the next day.
Green college student as I am, I imagined work in business to include suits, dry-erase markers, and white-lit offices, but at Symbology, this is not the case. During the 6 days I was there, we covered product sampling, printmaking, research on new artisan techniques, and negotiation. It wasn’t as if there wasn’t a plan, but we were generally at several places doing many things in a day. It was a little chaotic, like India itself, but also fun, and at most importantly, we got the work done.
On day one, we visited our supplier’s office, which is situated right above a cute tea house, which greatly pleased a tea-enthusiast as myself. We dressed casually, but nicely (suits myth, busted). There, I saw the physical blocks, some of which I had designed or contributed to, for the first time, and held them in my hands. They were in a box, ready for their first round of sample printing. That was truly a magical moment for me.
A visit that was only supposed to take a few hours lasted the rest of the afternoon. Luckily for us, our suppliers are creative, people, too. We pulled up digital files of our new Fall ‘18 designs (look forward to them, they’re great! ;D ) and finalized sizing, spacing, colorways, and materials. Sharing ideas, critiquing, and thinking of new things together for our line -- it was a fun, invigorating process where we could really exercise our creative sides.
At 6:00pm, we closed our booklet of Neelam colors (swatches of standard colors used in manufacturing) and agreed to meet the next day. Today was the theoreticals, tomorrow would be the practicals. We were going to meet our artisans, and see pattern creation with our own eyes.