Project LooM: Indian Textiles

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One of the most fulfilling projects I have been involved with is LooM. It is a portal/platform/website dedicated to the textile traditions of India. Check out Project LooM here.

What is it about the saree that evokes such love amongst Indians? Is it the “purity of the unstitched cloth” as Uzramma called it? Is it the fact that it is so forgiving for all body types? Is it the sensuousness of the drape that is both playful and sexy? Is it simply that India has managed to retain this garment unlike say, Japan that has lost its kimono or China, its cheong-sam or even Vietnam, its ao dai. The saree endures. The saree prevails in India. I love it.

Project LooM is a project that I co-created.  It began in October 2017, when I wrote to Taneira to ask if they might support a website that would showcase and celebrate Indian weaves. Taneira is an evolved company and they understood my pitch immediately. It wasn’t about brand marketing. It was about craft. In January 2019, we unveiled the first edition on Kanchipuram. Below is what I wrote for the Welcome section of Project LooM. It explains the project and people.

Project LooM is a partnership between lovers of Indian handloom.  The goal is to showcase and celebrate the people, places and processes behind India’s wonderful handwoven sarees. There will be many “editions,” which are designed like magazine issue.

It began as a series of conversations between me and my friend, Nandita Lakshmanan. 

Taneira came on board to support LooM in early 2018 and thus it began.  The first edition is Kanchipuram, then Chanderi, then West Bengal, and on it goes.

Project LooM could not have happened without the support of the following people.

Ajoy Chawla and Shyamala Ramanan at Titan/Taneira for the vision, the carte blanche sign-off that they gave me to run with the project. Ajoy is Senior Vice President of Incubation, and Shyamala, the Business Head of Taneira.

From Taneira: Naomi Raphael for being there always for coordination and facilitation. Anindita Sardar, for being available to talk to me about weaves and their intricacies.

Each cluster will become an edition. We have already completed Chanderi and it will gradually be live. We turn to many Doyennes of Textiles (DoT) for expert advice. Wish I could create a logo for DoT with a dot on the forehead– like a Jamini Roy painting of a woman with a dot.

Thank you’s go out to

Jacob Kurian, who introduced Ajoy to me.

Calligrapher and architect, Dharmesh Jadeja from Auroville for designing the logo. And drawing out several variations of the logo. And for putting up with my persnicketiness about how to dot the line and curve the y.

Ulhas Anand, my birder friend and Bird Podcast collaborator for the website design. Among other things, Ulhas organizes Bengaluru Bird Day and runs Ecoedu, for environmental education. Thanks, Ulhas for creating the website and all the social media pages.

Red Bangle Film Collaborative: where a vibrant group of young filmmakers come together to make magic…and films. Thanks, Lakshmi Rebecca and Shibani Naidu: for the video films that accompany the website.

I make all the shorter amateur films but Red Bangle produces the 3-4 main films that are on top of the Youtube page of each edition.

And a great big Namaste and thank you to Shyamala for keeping the faith.

Shoba Narayan

Anchor, Project LooM

 

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