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Pic Courtsey : Ikroop
Ikroop Dhillon believes creating a myriad of form and colour with glass is her canvas to express art. A trip to Venice is what introduced her to Murano glass.“As a medium I was mesmerized by it and I knew that as an art form, glass was what I wanted to create for my design expression." says Ikroop Dhillon, the creative star behind Ikroop. As longtime admirers, we were delighted to interview her and understand more about her inspiration, the brand itself and the new collection.
Why glass? What about the medium spoke to you?
Glass is a whimsical medium. The technique that I work with is called Glass Fusion which involves melting it in a kiln at over 1000 degrees. At that temperature, the medium has a mind of its own, you can't control it, which is why no two pieces ever emerge identical from the kiln. Glass can be strong yet brittle, fluid yet firm, colourful yet transparent so the potential for it to be used as a medium for artistic expression is endless. That’s why I love working with it.
I got an opportunity to apprentice under renowned glass artist Atul Bakshi. It was in his studio that I sat with craftsmen to understand the nuances of glass art from scratch. The murano technique, which involves glass being melted in a kiln (bhatti) to create a myriad of form and colour, was what I felt was my calling and Jewelry became my canvas to express my art.
Was finding a market a challenge in a country obsessed with gold?
Oh yes! And doubly so because not only is the average Indian consumer’s idea of jewelry tied to gold, even finding karigars (craftsmen) to work with glass was tough. So you see, it wasn’t just the demand side that was obsessed with Gold, the supply side too was obsessed with working with precious metals so that was a big challenge.
Luckily for us though, I think timing worked beautifully. The last couple of years have seen a tremendous evolution in how artisanal jewelry is perceived in India. No longer is jewelry only an expression of opulence. It’s now become an expression of self, of personal style and therefore we have so many designers experimenting with a plethora of materials today. More and more people were willing to experiment with ‘non precious’ jewelry and with the market growing at the stupendous rate that it is, the economics made it conducive for more karigars also to come into the fold.
What were your first pieces?
The first few pieces were an experiment at so many levels… getting the right glass specs, finding the right material for the jewelry base, finding the right plating so it wouldn’t damage the glass… it took many a fails to get the formula right. For us, the first collection was also the truest test of the market as we didnt know how the consumer would react, given that glass jewelry was unheard of in the country. I still remember the first pair of earrings were what we sold at Nimai in Delhi, we were ecstatic!
What themes are key to the brand?
First and Foremost, Glass is always and will be the hero for our work. As I’ve said earlier, the jewelry that we create is a canvas via which we express this art form. We keep experimenting with different technique of glass art but the medium is at the centre of it all. Also, for us, I feel that’s what sets us apart from all other designers in the space as there is no one else who is marrying this European glass art form with Indian craftsmanship in the county ( and probably in the world) and therefore its very crucial to our brand offering.
Another thing that we try and maintain across our creations is that the accessories are very wearable. I never create a piece which I can’t imagine wearing myself. So its unique yet very wearable. Our customers range from women in their 20’s to over 60 year olds and that’s again something that we try and keep in mind. We are inclusive, If I may say so.
What does it mean to be original in fashion?
For me, original work is what is created as an expression of self, it makes you vulnerable to criticism and that’s not easy but I have come to learn that original creative work will find a patron, no matter what, it may take time, it may take effort, but I truly believe that work that’s original will always shine.
Anything exciting planned for this year?
Lots actually, we are experimenting with a new glass art technique which will be seen in the new collections. This will be different from everything we’ve done so far so that‘s what we’ve been working on. We are also introducing new materials in the mix to compliment the glass. So the new collections will see our jewelry aesthetic evolve to a new dimension.
From a brand perspective, FY 2018-19 is all about reaching new shores. We’re currently supplying to a few boutiques stores outside India but we are working on making that presence more mainstream. I’m also loving the current environment of cross functional collaboration that is happening all around. Some very interesting collaboration with other designers are in the pipeline.
The idea behind Ikroop’s latest collection is to bring together assorted elements in a harmonious form. The collection will see a lot of different types of glass, metal and other materials being combined to create accessories which are bold yet sublime. We are very excited to be showicasing this collection at Bunosilo.com
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