Lately, the Indian costume jewellery space has seen an influx of unconventional materials – designers are turning to shell, concrete, fibre, and even plastic. Now, you can add glass to this list. Though not a new material per se, how designer Debasmita Ghosh is using it will certainly make you take notice. Under her label Aadikara, Ahmedabad-based Ghosh is crafting glass jewellery that easily bridges the line between fashion and art.
Ghosh’s delicate designs are seeped in nature. Think transparent blooms and insects in pastel-hued glass earrings and necklaces, with a metal finishing. Particularly inspired by flowers like azure bluet, diphylleia grayi, and poppy, one scroll through her Instagram feed will reveal her commitment to beauty. There are also delicate neckpieces featuring blown-glass beads and teal glass rings.
Nature is an important aspect of Ghosh’s work. Daughter of a doctor father and a homemaker mother, she was intrigued by the greenery of Bhagalpur in Bihar, where she was raised. Afternoons spent gazing at her garden sowed the early seeds of inspiration – her designs today are inspired by these memories of flora and fauna. What makes Ghosh’s work more poignant is the fact that she has created these fragile designs using flame-work, usually reserved for bigger glass pieces. Which means that all you need to do is take a little extra care of these jewellery pieces and they will stay for years.
A graduate of National Institute of Fashion Technology, Rae Barely, and National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, Aadikara is an extension of Ghosh’s post-graduation project. She launched it in 2017 with the aim to work with the craftsmen of Firozabad and to assimilate them in the main design force of India. Ghosh initially started stocking at the Delhi-based store Nimai, and soon spaces at Ogaan, Paper Boat, Pepper House in Kochi, Malgaadi Chennai, Aza, Clove, and Gatha, an online store based out of Ahmedabad, followed.
Over the past two years, Ghosh has launched 8-10 collections, her latest being ‘Warrior Princess’, which highlights the fierceness of a woman. It comprises edgy, off-beat pieces such as hair accessories, armbands, wristlets, and waistbands. We spoke to her about Aadikara, working with local artisans, and why glass jewellery could be the next big thing.
On early years and inspiration
“When I was young, there weren’t many options of things to do. On television, I could only watch DD 1, where, in the evenings, there were certain features dedicated to art and craft. It was there for the first time that I came across the art of blowing glass – it was fascinating, and that memory somehow remained in my consciousness. After I finished my schooling I was determined to explore fashion. I applied to NIFT, and started studying lifestyle and accessory design at its Rae Bareli branch.
On her initial tryst with glass
“At NID, I pursued my post graduation in ceramic and glass design. We were taken to Firozabad and introduced to the craft of making glass objects, from bangles to home decor pieces. The condition of people there is deplorable, but the work they do is out of the world. However, it was at that point that I realised it was a dying art form.
“I wanted to take up glass as a material and wanted to experiment with it. I started interning at UMA Glass Company, a small company operating out of Firozabad. In my free time, I visited artisans. One thing let to another and I started my own project with the artisans. At that time, there was no one doing flame-work glass jewellery in India. So I launched Aadikara in 2017, the year I graduated from NID.
“While growing up in Bihar, I would see women doing chores while wearing colourful glass bangles. As a material, it is something that we use daily. From phone screens to watches, glass is everywhere, but we never give it enough credit. So I realised that it could be moulded into beautiful forms. It has that transparency, reflective, refractive properties and you could make such amazing jewellery pieces from it.
On working with local craftsmen
“I work with local craftsmen of Firozabad who create glasswork in their homes. I travel to Firozabad with my designs, and work with a set group of artisans, who also introduce me to new people. Our metal is created in Ahmedabad and Singur, where the final assembling of the pieces also takes place. I am a one-woman army.”
On building her own market and inspiration
I follow the work of glass artisans like Ayumi, Tianyuan, and Anna Bronze. Then there is Dale Chihuly, known to work with massive glass structures. I realise that I have to build a market – I don’t have one. Also during my research, I found that I am the first jewellery designer to experiment with flame work. People see my pieces and they appreciate but are apprehensive about the maintenance. So for me, the key is to hold the market and just stay in it.
On her muse
I design for the discerning women of today. Sonam Kapoor, Anne Hathaway, Kalki, Vidya Balan, and Lisa Haydon are my muses for their balance of fragility and strength.