Rhode Island trained her in not just the conceptual aspects of the garment making but the craft behind it. The production of designs and the work that embroiderers, tailors, masons do behind the scenes. Dhvani Behl, the brainchild of Flaur For Fauna Studio, is a firm believer in the fact that a designer should also know how to actually bring to life his or her own designs, and be involved, at least for the earlier years in the manufacturing process. This gives the said designer an edge over others and with this advantage, Dhvani brings to life her own creations in her studio.
The designer Dhvani
What draws you to working with textiles?
My Mother is a weaver. My training was printmaking which is a very paper based art, so basically etching and printmaking, so it was a very fine art kind of training, so eventually the main thing you do when you graduate is try to have gallery shows and become and artist but somehow in college I was always kind of also interested in textiles, also my mother being a weaver I grew up with a lot of textiles around me. In India anyway, even though you don't grow up with textiles you have so much access to textiles all the time than other parts of the world so I always liked textiles and printmaking also tends to so naturally work on textiles as well so it was very easy for me to apply what I was learning in college to textiles.. So the experimentation phase began in college only so it kind of got stuck that way. Also after college when I moved back to India there was so much scope for playing with textiles for me personally so I kind of just pretty much almost stopped printmaking. Also for a lot of printmaking you need equipment which is difficult to get for instance, for etching you need an acid bath, an etching press so it is not the easiest medium to do on your own.. you will have to become a member of a print maker’s association and share a common space so to avoid all of that I kind of started with screen printing and woodcuts.
I read that you draw inspiration from William Morris. What aspects of his work and personality do you look up to?
When you start working with textiles your prints have to kind of start turning into patterns you know so you start working on things that can repeat and things that can become a yardage. It is a different kind of composition. With William Morris, his repeats are so beautiful because it never looks like a repeat, it’s very seamless. Also, William Morris took lot from India, a lot of his motifs are actually Indian that he then incorporated it into his work so that also has something to do with it. Like for me I am from India but I don't like having my art being defined by the fact that we are Indian, so my motifs are more just things which are coming out of my mind, so with William Morris what struck me was that he took from different cultures but what finally came out was something that you still identify as William Morris. It was something that was his.
Umm well when you work with textiles long enough the natural thing for me to do at that point in my line was to put it into garments. One part of it is making money and the other part of it is finishing your work into a product, so the use of textiles in garments seems like the funnest thing to do. So in 2014, I initially started out with saris and then one thing led to another and it eventually got into garments but always the aims to sell art in a different medium instead of putting it in a gallery and putting it behind glass, to make something that you can use and wear and discard and have fun with.
I guess nature is so vast that it never ends you know, like there is always something. For instance my newest collection now is inspired by underwater so it opens up a whole other universe but its still nature right.. it is something that you see all the time. My drawings are like surrealising nature in a way.
The three main things are digital printing, woodcut printing and screen printing and then I also do a lot of hand embroidery for which I have a karigar. It also adds a a dimension to print which is interesting. In the past two years I have moved away from apparel a little but and focussing on printing fabrics. The last few years I did quite a lot of solo shows and exhibited so it was always selling.. so I never really got a chance to sit down make something new, it was always re using old drawings that I already have and putting home into new Collections so I've kind of reached a point where I am pausing a frantic production rate and trying to get into just developing lots of new prints. Also I tend to use organic fabric, I don't like working with synthetic fabrics.
L : Dressed up dolls.
R : Decor.
I read somewhere that you don't use the traditional method of block printing.
I have been trained in the Japanese form of block printing, it’s not for textiles it is for paper, like in Indian blocks the blocks are small so you can repeat with them, the block is always on top so you can stamp with them. With my blocks, the blocks are very large.. they are anywhere between 2 feet by 2 feet or 6 feet long.. so you can't print them in the traditional stamping method so the way you print them is you put the block underneath and put the fabric on top so it is a different method of printing but it is the same essential concept.
How would you describe Flora For Fauna?
Flora For Fauna just does what comes to mind, so it keeps changing. It is like a ..you know how authors have fake names of themselves so it is just a fake name for me behind which I just keep creating.
Are there any future projects you are working on?
Right now I am preparing for a show towards the beginning of 2019 where I am going to show the shift in works from apparel to fabric so the show is going to have one of hand embroidered saris and yardage for sale and wall art which is aper and fabric based so it’s moving away from stitched garments.
I know there is vacuum for print in India right now because when I see print work it is always redoing Mughal printing and redoing stuff. It has remained in the traditional, I don't see too much going on in contemporary so I want to see what I can do in that field for a while.
Text Supriya Jain.