Thursday, August 11, 2011


By Savitha Hira
Photographs: Courtesy Ms. Bela Shanghvi
Each time I meet a design professional, I see a new viewpoint. Goes to show how much there is in this six-letter word that is so callously applied, in some cases for ulterior reasons.

Recently, I learnt that design is humility. In my last meeting with designer Bela Shanghvi, who is also a Design & Business Re-Engineer for Textile & Craft, she modestly related that what had begun as a commercial exercise for her, transformed the very life of the people involved, and impacted her mindset too. 

On one of her assignments in Kashmir, where she was to develop handcrafted products suited to a modern outlook, she realised that the physical circumstances of the executing tribe were inexcusable to their health conditions in the long run. So instead of being horse-headed and focussing on her part of the assignment, she went all out to study the ergonomics involved and worked at improving the operational conditions of these Namda-stitch embroiderers.

Beginning with the posture of the craftsmen (bent over working with hand-held fabric), the tools involved, and the generally poor work environment... from such apparent problems to a host of related not-so-apparent issues that silently wailed for attention, Bela and her team put in special efforts to fine tune several little details, importantly ensuring that the solutions safe-guarded the perpetuation of traditions. 
The resultant benefits are now being reaped by the craftsmen, whose output has increased four-fold and so has their income and lifestyle; the traders, who have tripled sales as a result of better quality and quantum of produce; and of course the consumers, who are now in a position to rejoice in the hand-crafted items with genuine pride.

Success is residual. 


  1. Dear Savitha,

    I am proud to see where your love for Art has taken you. You have the joy of meeting designers who not only take pride in their work but are keen on making a difference.

    You always had a love for writing. Did you ever imagine that you would combine both art and writing and enjoy the process. Congratulations!

  2. Bela Shanghvi has really done a wonderful job when she had identified the mistakes which are usually neglected and corrected them.Thanks for mentioning the work of her.


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