Ikigai, as most of us are familiar with, is a Japanese concept which highlights that one should find one’s “reason for being”. For Aarushi and Arpan, two contemporary artists based in Jaipur, their ikigai presented itself via their brand Studio Kassa (meaning “house of two”).
By combining their education and experience in visual communications and product design, the two established Studio Kassa in 2014, with the vision to create a contemporary lifestyle brand that can offer “Art with utility”. Since then Aarushi and Arpan, through Kassa, have been offering fashion accessories and lifestyle products that not only demonstrate a strong artistic appeal but also provide relevant solutions for an urban consumer’s needs. They have been doing this in the most remarkable way by using understated or leftover materials and treating them with a combination of new/old and traditional/modern techniques. And so, the products resulting from this unique marriage of design, art and upcycled materials are nothing short of wearable art.
“We spend a lot of our time doing surface explorations on materials to understand their traits and determine suitable techniques that will allow them to be moulded into products. So we often find ourselves researching, experimenting and pushing the boundaries of the techniques and materials we employ”, explains Aarushi. This, in fact, is very evident in each of their collections that they have presented thus far.
For their Forest and Ret collections, they sourced deadstock leather from micro vendors in South India and embellished them as per their respective themes.
In the case of the Forest collection, they used their signature tessellations to give the sublime moss green leather products a textured appearance. For the Ret collection, they chose a sandy brown leather and gave it a weathered look by using the forgotten Farad block printing technique from rural Rajasthan. Although treated differently, the leather accessories from both these collections are perfectly on brand with their design and functionality.
Similarly, for their Lunar and Fossil jewellery collections, they procured unwanted metal bits and castings from casting foundries and repurposed them. After much experimentation they were able to use binding and sand casting techniques to create their designs. In addition to this, Arpan and Aarushi’s ability to translate a theme into product designs is absolutely impressive. In the products of the Lunar collection one can instantly interpret that the gold and silver aluminium discs of jewellery are drawing inspiration from the fluid dreamy shapes of the moon. Even the pieces of the Fossil collection are wonderfully imprinted with fossil-like impressions of flowers, insects and ancient prints which are reminiscent of fossil finds from an archaeological site.
Another fascinating example that showcases Studio Kassa’s penchant for working with unconventional materials is their Eco-friendly collection. For this they used a food-grade quality hybrid material to make a line of chic bags, travel accessories and planters. As the hybrid material has a unique composition of fabric, paper and polymer it demonstrates a diverse set of traits - highly breathable yet waterproof, 100% recyclable, appears like a paper yet has a high tensile strength.
Albeit rooted in tradition, Studio Kassa is a brand that has the graphical contempo au courant aesthetic at its core. They ensure that every product is designed keeping the taste of a modern consumer in mind. “We look to our consumers to inform us about their needs and we accordingly craft desired solutions” informs Aarushi. It was this that led them to include rather rare product categories like pet accessories, magic wallets, recyclable planters and headphone accessories, et al. She beams with pride as she shares, “Our customers have consistently appreciated Kassa’s products for fulfilling a need of theirs without compromising on design or function or sustainability”.
Aarushi and Arpan have also made upcycling and recycling as integral elements of their design process. They have consciously stayed away from offering mass produced fast fashion and have been challenging the notion of constantly having to offer something new to their customers.
Aarushi emphasizes that they take immense care to further circularity via their choice of materials and upcycling to ensure that they only offer conscious limited edition products. They hope that in doing so their customers value and care for every purchase that they make from Studio Kassa. She further adds that their journey with Studio Kassa has even made them introspect and inculcate more conscious consumption practices in their lifestyles.
While their future plans seemed to have been paused due to the ongoing pandemic, they were quick to adapt and launch new products to their offering. They designed different kinds of face masks and accessories like sanitizer covers and mask covers - all patterned with a beautiful marbling print or an abstract print.
When asked about their vision for Studio Kassa the duo shared that they hope to take Indian crafts and techniques on the verge of extinction, and exhibit them on a global platform. For their upcoming collections they plan on continuing with their material and technique explorations by possibly revisiting the leather medium or introducing a new medium – cement. But until then do check out their beautiful products listed on our store and take your first step towards making sustainability and design a way of your life.
Image Credits - Studio Kassa
Content Credits - Harshitha Venati