Design Inspiration - Behind the scenes of the boho Ilkal collection
The ethnic Ilkal boho collection of pillow covers is one of our very special collections and today I want to share the inspiration that made this collection come to life.
This story begins in 2010, the year of our road trip covering the south Indian state of Karnataka. This hidden gem has one of the most gorgeous terrains in India. But more about that on another day!
Midway through our trip, we came upon the little-known towns of Ilkal & Guledgudda. These towns are where weaving traditions in silk and cotton has flourished for over a thousand years since the 8th century A.D! The terrain in this region is stark and in the evening the rolling brown landscape turns an awe-inspiring crimson. The Ilkal fabric hails from these little towns. The most popular use of this fabric is in the sarees paired with a blouse in a similar material. The sarees are typically plain and have a red pallu streaked with a brilliant band of white. The intricately woven blouse, which pairs with it, is referred to as "Khana" which in Kannada (a south Indian language) means material used for making a saree blouse. Together this ensemble is like the terrain with its splendid sunset – rustic, earthy and supremely vivid.
The Khana fabric which is very intricate is made from a combination of cotton and silk with a brocade like pattern woven into it. To the trained eye, the different details in each pattern you come across, tell many stories; their shapes inspired by fort ramparts, chariots, the sun God, jasmine flowers, food grain, and other memories from an era of prosperity. The beauty of the Khana fabric lies in its, beautiful jewel tones, magnificent patterns and contrasting thread work borders all of which are a reflection of the beautiful landscape where this fabric originated.
As we drove away from these towns I was left with a feeling of nostalgia, because through our time there, I realised that the story of this weave is similar to that of some of India’s other handloom traditions. Apparently, this region has only about 5000 handlooms left as compared to a booming 30,000 just ten years ago. Competition from power looms coupled with antiquated technology and a sheer lack of support for this beautiful fabric has taken away the livelihood from several traditional handloom weavers. It is very sad that the rattles of the handloom can now barely be heard in Ilkal.
Coming back to the present, on one of my many fabric hunting trips, when I came across this fabric again, I couldn't resist the idea that I wanted to create a complete collection of colourful pillow covers with this gorgeous fabric that would appeal to modern urban tastes. So when I finally set about creating this collection it was only natural that my palette boards were inspired by the terrain that I had visited back in 2010.