NorBlack NorWhite

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The first time we visited NorBlack NorWhite's (NBNW) Bombay studio, we knew we had found something special. 

We bonded over (chai and) a love for Kutch, traditional craft in India, and sharing stories of these profoundly unique artisans with the rest of the world. NBNW is led by the uber-creative duo Amrit Kumar and Mriga Kapadiya, who after a family vacation a couple years ago, never boarded her return flight to Toronto. Mriga planted herself in Bombay and wooed Amrit to join and start the company in a country they had grown up visiting but were only just beginning to discover. Fast forward a couple years and NBNW has just wrapped their fifth collection (and launching their fourth, FW12, next week), with a number of high-end retail collaborations, magazine features, and exhibitions worldwide.

It's easy to see by their work why they've been so successful in such a short amount of time, but when you get to know them, you realize their success is based off of their spirit and ability to create beautiful objects by deeply connecting with those around them.

We recently caught back up and asked them to dish about their company and the making of the WHOLE Scarf Series for Rubina. Here's what they had to say:

What was your design and production process for the WHOLE Scarf Series?

Through conversations with the Khatri family, we understood the meanings behind the process of bandhani (tie and dye), and learned that traditionally, smaller ties which are close together represents work made for the richer communities. While larger ties, spread apart are made for economically poorer communities. Playing off these traditions, we chose to create this scarf series, balancing both the large and the small, the rich and the poor, in one gigantic tie represented our circle and whole. Spending time with the family, helped give birth to this idea and from then on it was just playing with our favorite felt tip marker set, to fall in love with the chosen colors. 

What is NorBlack NorWhite all about?
NBNW's philosophies develop from questioning the past, appreciating the present and taking it to the future. Respecting the way things were created, the style in which they were made, and the simplicity yet intricacy in textile design inspire NBNW's work to bring it into this chaotic present world, while hoping to spark the light of the future. Our name NorBlack NorWhite comes from the duality of the two of us who founded this, a balance between extremes, a play on the mass love for black and white designs, a thorough approach to what's happening in the fashion world, and digging deeper to ask questions about it all, making this work not this, or not that, nor black and not white and most importantly, our love for Michael Jackson.

Why does NorBlack NorWhite choose to work with artisans?
It's 2012 and there's an abundance of stuff. We don't want to contribute to just producing more material stuff, but work towards telling stories and sharing knowledge, while creating beautiful design and art. Understanding the ancient processes and culture of art within artisan families turns us on, and is the core of why we create in India. "Made in India" is sadly being associated with "cheap" labor, mass production and overall quick and cheap. These ideas hurts us, when really the history of textile practices, the livelihood of thousands of skilled artisans and the intricacy of creation and design should be celebrated when people think of Made In India. We are working towards this.

What’s been inspiring you recently?
This changes on the daily. Our friends are super inspiring as many of them create their own art and to feel the energy of all of us creating clearly together, keeps us inspired and excited! Train rides, rickshaw rides, plane rides and overall movement sparks lots of ideas by people watching.

Who’s another designer that we should know about and why?
Sabyasachi has been around for much longer then we have and his pieces are majestic and seems to bring out the inner queen in everyone, which we also love to do too!

What’s one thing you can’t live without in Bombay?
Chai and absolutely ANYTHING delivered to the door.


by NorBlack NorWhite 



 The Bandhani Ladies:
 A photo essay

 Traditional Textile Techniques
 The Real Meaning of Earrings - My Year at Qasab