I saw Kangan's work at PULSE a couple of weeks ago, you might have seen her pop up in my review post. I was struck by Kangan's work, and just how very much I liked her bright and playful textiles. Kangan is most definitely one to watch for the future; she is going to go on to big things I think. ..
patternbooth: Originally from North India, when and why did you come to the UK?
kangan: After graduating from NIFT in India, I worked with fashion designers Abraham & Thakore before coming to the UK in 2005 to study Textile Design at Central Saint Martins.
NIFT is situated in a sleepy town in Gujarat, which has a rich heritage of textile production; from traditional block printing, vegetable dyeing and hand embroideries to highly advanced modern mills.
Packing my bags and coming to London brought an altogether different experience, but one that I Ioved. Central Saint Martins is such a cauldron of creativity, it taught me to appreciate the wider culture of design and develop my own ideas unhindered.
patternbooth: Your work is strongly influenced by Indian life, how often do you visit? and what do you love the most about it?
kangan: I visit a couple of times a year to see family, but also to recharge my batteries and soak up the inspiration which spills from every street corner, sign or highway journey. I never tire of the hustle and bustle and visual assault of people, pattern and colour.
London is my home now; I'm forever absorbed in its endless cultural pursuits, but India is part of my story and history so I'll always be drawn back.
patternbooth: You have your own product lines now. How do you find the process of getting the ideas in your head onto products that people can buy?
kangan: I start with taking literally hundreds of photos of things that inspire me - walls, signs, objects etc; then abstracting forms and motifs that attract my attention. The fun bit is exposing the patterns and designs onto silk screens and playing around with colour and variation in the print room. All my textiles are lovingly hand screen printed in this way, then stitched and finished to create the finished product.
patternbooth: What are your design goals?
kangan: Short term: I'm just finding my feet with the things you never consider when embarking on a career as a designer - like production schedules, business models, distribution channels and the practical stuff.
Medium and long term plans: Through the process of getting my name out there, you gain a lot of confidence and begin to appreciate the real breadth of possibilities there are - the experience I've accrued so far is mainly in hand screen printed domestic textiles, but Bags, Luggage, Tableware are all things that I'm now working on. Watch this space!
patternbooth: I really like Jonna Saarinen's work, and I see you work collaboratively with her for your Jonna X Kangan collection. How did that come about and how do you blend two such strong design styles?
kangan: Jonna and I have shared spaces, exchanged ideas, collaborated and generally followed each other around since our first day at CSM. She comes from FInland which has a long and distinguished history of pattern, design and textiles; the same themes are also ever-present in India, but in a more organic and haphazard fashion. From the outset, I think we sensed a kindred spirit and a shared purpose - a simple celebration of colour and a love of the hands on process of screen printing.
patternbooth: Your work has had a great reception so far. What advice would you give to other young designers wanting to find positive exposure for their work?
kangan: I've been lucky to get some great exposure in a short amount of time, so thanks for featuring me!
I would advise any aspiring designer to tell 'their' story instead of following the obvious trends, it will always be more interesting in the long run.