Midsummer +1

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It was six months before British designer Hannah Thistlethwaite moved back to her native city of London from Bombay India that she started the design label Midsummer +1. Her career in product development and textiles had moved her to India three years before where she soon found herself falling in love with a country that would eventually produce life-long friendships, many adventures, and eventually inspire a business. When I met Hannah in Bombay, she was on her first trip back to the country after leaving, and was “glad to be back with friends, chicken tikka rolls and crazy inspirational chaos .” I was impressed with the way she blended contemporary design with traditional craft from Shantiniketan artisans in Kolkata. -Kari

 

Below we caught back up with Hannah to get more insight to the Rubina by Midsummer +1 collection:

What was your design and production process for the Dazzle Clutch Series?
Sadly, my Bengali is non-existent so I really relied on the few people at EMA who speak English such as Tanmoy and Sumita. They helped me understand the shantiniketan process - took me to leather tanneries, explained the embossing and dye painting process etc. Over the course of 6 months I made several trips up to EMA (from Mumbai where I lived) taking with me each time various ideas, bag patterns and even paper models I had made. I learned so much from Tanmoy and Sumita and the artisans at EMA, what was possible and what works.  
 
What makes the Rubina clutch unique?
This colour of our fold over clutch has been specially made for Rubina. Each one is hand painted and hand finished in Kolkata by the team at EMA.
 
What was the inspiration behind the design?
I came across Dazzle camouflage and it’s history while researching patterns and thought was so unusual and interesting but still very eye catching that it seemed the perfect pattern for the midsummer +1 version of shantiniketan.
 
What is Midsummer +1 all about?
Midsummer +1 is about unusual contemporary accessories, hand crafted using traditional techniques. The name just comes from the day I was born (22nd June - the day after midsummer’s day)! 
 

Why do you choose to work with artisans?
A desire to work with artisans came naturally to me as the different crafts of India were one of the most inspiring things about living there.  From amazing tailors in every town to incredible kutch tie dye, from cotton dhurrie rug weavers in Rajasthan to kholapuri sandals.  

What’s next for Midsummer +1? 
I am designing the next collection of shantiniketan leather products now, playing with new shapes and working with a very talented surface designer friend of mine to come up with a new embossing block pattern.   The block design is an abstract pattern that is drawn from an unusual inspiration and will hopefully help raise awareness and funds for a particular charity… can’t really say more at the moment as it’s a work in progress!

What’s been inspiring you recently?
Loads of things! Music, where I live in London, Patti Smith’s autobiography ‘Just Kids’, the photographer Ray K Metzker (who I just discovered, he’s amazing).

You recently moved back to London after 3 years in India. How has that transition been and what do you miss most about India?
Moving back to the UK was definitely not as hard as moving to India in the first place but there is lots I miss about it.  Sunshine, mango season, the breaking of monsoon after summer (though not the end of it when all your clothes are moldy), friends…

What are your top three not-so-touristy destinations in India for visitors looking for an authentic India?
Authentic India is everywhere, just around the corner from the most touristy spots but the area I probably love the most are the mountains in India. Riding up from Chandigarh to Leh on the back of my husband’s motorbike was one of my most memorable trips there, camping by the side of the road and feeling on top of the world once we reached there.

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THE DAZZLE
by Midsummer +1 

 

KNOW MORE

 
 In the Making: Dazzle Clutch by Midsummer +1
 Poetry: Flute Music by Tagore
 Defining Terms for Making a Positive Contribution
 Homemade Chai from Scratch

Photos by Christine Coen