My first impression as I step into Tvam, the new designer boutique in RA Puram, is one of warmth. Dark wood and stone create the perfect foil for large canvases on the wall, painted in stark shades of reds, yellows, blacks and whites. The primordial colours are also picked up in the saris draped over old wooden chairs and in the jewellery that line a beautiful dresser. And painter-cum-designer Lakshmi Srinath, sporting a red bindi that echoes the one she’s incorporated into her brand’s logo, fits seamlessly into the picture.
“I’ve always been designing clothes and they are an extension of my art,” begins the 56-year-old, who has been exhibiting her paintings, both in India and abroad, for the last two decades. “I began stitching when I was pregnant with my first child. In fact, I’d even run a children’s boutique in the late ’80s. But my unfussy designs with clean silhouettes were ahead of its time,” she smiles. So when she decided to give textiles another shot, she decided to choose a canvas that she is passionate about—the sari.
Launched on December 26, in association with her daughter Krithika Srinivasan, Srinath’s first collection, the Margazhi Poo, reflects all that she holds dear about the ‘season’. “There is a tradition that people follow in the month of Margazhi. Every morning at dawn, when they draw the kolam, they place a lump of cow dung in the middle and place a yellow pumpkin flower in it. That image is one of my motifs,” she says. As I look through the line of Chanderi cottons and silks, with hand-embroidery and cut-work, I find reflections of her spiritual side, too. “I use a lot of cords. They show continuity—you start with the umbilical cord and end with being bound. I also do a lot of spirals, the bindu (dot), triangles and the parabola which are full of shakthi,” she says, adding that her line also has silk stoles handwoven by artisans from across the country.
Call of summer
Her jewellery line came about almost serendipitously. “I just started painting wooden blocks one day, and thought why not,” she says, adding, “I mix found objects—like vintage Moroccan brooches and the druzy rocks I picked up in Arizona—with lava beads, silver and precious stones set in gold, to create unique pieces.” With an exhibition planned in Singapore, she is already planning her next collection. “I think I will do collections around different festivals linked to a particular month. The next will be Chithirai in April and you can expect summer inspirations,” she concludes.
Saris from Rs 8,000 and jewellery from Rs 2,500. Details: facebook.com/Tvam-Art-and-Design-Studio
—Surya Praphulla Kumar