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    The designer debuts her fun yet functional furniture at MaalGaadi

    A ctress, sculptor and furniture designer, Lekha Washington has been impressing the design-forward with her work for a couple of years now. But the drawback was that you had to go all the way to Mumbai to pick up her range of quirky chairs and oddly-angled lights. Now she’s teamed up with MaalGaadi to début her collection—featuring the popular Pink Sink, Squair and Dot, Atom (cubed furniture pieces) and the flexible lampshade, Bent Light—in the city. “There is a huge market here, an intelligent market for art. While Chennai itself loves design and art, finding the right people to enter the market with was difficult. But I am glad to be finally here,” says Washington, who has made Mumbai her home for the last eight years, and had launched her design house, Ajji, there two-and-half-years back. But she admits that she really misses living in Chennai.

    Team spirit
    While her classes on product design at National Institute of Design (NID) laid the foundation, she says her design aesthetics are self taught. “MP Ranjan, my professor at NID, helped me learn the basic principles of design. He strongly influenced me,” she explains, adding that she also draws inspiration from Zaha Hadid, the Iraqi-British designer. When asked about her bestsellers, she picks out the The Pink Sink. “The circular chair has been a hit, but I do not go by numbers,” she quickly laughs. What she believes in, however, is collaboration. “Art cannot be a solitary activity,” says the designer, who worked with Chennai-based French designer Jean Francois Lesage for The Drop (chair). Ajji’s impressive clientele includes Bollywood actors Akshay Kumar, Imran Khan and director-composer Vishal Bharadwaj.

    Quirk factor
    On featuring Lekha’s furniture, Shahin Ansari, co-founder of MaalGaadi, says, “Her designs are different as compared to others. But it is also sleek and simplistic, which fits into Chennai’s profile, which loves simple things.” Ansari hand-picked the furniture, paying attention to the quirky and fun. Meanwhile, the actress who was last seen in the Tamil feature Kalyana Samayal Saadham is excited about her upcoming exhibition in the city, on September 10, at Park Hyatt. Expect art installations from her collection, Nature of Things, which was on display last month in Mumbai.

    At MaalGaadi. Details: 42103242

    Ranjitha G

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