In the current fashionscape, personalisation epitomizes luxury. Client demands and their ever-evolving tastes have come to transform the classics; after all, it’s not just about owning a Birkin, but a Birkin featuring Van Gogh paintings.Be it customising jackets featuring logos, bags with artisnal hardware or choosing the type of leather in creating footwear, customers today can envision and create their own products. Following the lead in India is The Studio Project’s Kanika Ranka who specializes in hand-painting bags, shoes, and even clothing items. Whether it’s creating trunks for Sonam Kapoor, leather trays for Nita Ambani or customizing shoes for Anshula Kapoor, Ranka is firmly cementing her presence.
Ranka launched her label in 2016 after returning from her BFA in Art & Design from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and since then has been exploring the concept of ‘wearable art’. She wants to take the concept of monogramming forward, enabling clients to personalize their products and let the accessories really do the taking. From flowers in striking hues to superheroes to parakeets, she ensures that nothing is out of canvas when it comes to painting.
We spoke to Ranka about her brand philosophy, creative process, and celebrity clients.
On her creative process
Ours is a bespoke one-on-one service to turn your luxury product into a piece of wearable art. As a designer & artist, I work with clients to help translate their dreams and ideas into painted reality. My process begins with brainstorming, which includes getting to know their likes, dislikes, and passions. I discuss basic themes and imagery before developing digital mocks ups of the finished product.
This step is crucial in order to bring the client on board with the creative process and instilling them with confidence before they hand over their precious luxury goods to me. Once they are absolutely satisfied with the size, positioning, and colors of the layouts, I then personally hand paint each product and work with an intimate team in order to maintain consistency and high quality.
The paints are imported and manufactured especially for the leather and canvas goods. Each artwork has 10-15 layers of thinly applied paint, setting a strong foundation for the durability and vibrancy of the work. Multiple layers of varnish are applied once the paint dries, making it crack and waterproof and increasing its resistance to surface friction and damage.
On Haute-st trends in hand-painted luxury
My recommendation is the Pop Art route. The bright colours and bold black outlines make your bag POP. It’s a statement piece and a conversation starter at its best. One can also select more classic and timeless designs such as florals and trunks. People are buying large trunks to use them centre tables and home décor. Some even ask me to personalize it with family initials and names. It’s definitely an accent piece.
On how to pick a design
Love the design you’re choosing. It’s like a tattoo but for your designer bag. So I would highly recommend investing enough time before zeroing in on the best design for your bag and personality.
On how to take care of the finished product
Avoid using chemical cleaners since they are harsh and erosive to the base material of the bag as well as the painting. Use a damp cloth to clean any dust collection. Most importantly, it’s absolutely essential that a luxury bag be treated with care.
Exposure to rough treatment and sharp objects like safety pins and scissors will not only damage the painting, but also the bag. Another important tip: don’t shove your bag under the airplane seat, place it gently. The sooner you treat it better, the longer it will last.
On her memorable projects
None of the projects have been tricky; the trickest part about Bollywood projects is the tight deadlines. One of the most memorable ones I’ve worked on is the crates I painted for Sonam Kapoor who gifted them to SRK. I only had a few hours to create these super funky graffiti wooden crates, and I personalized them with the names of all the Khan family members. It was definitely one for the books.