Santanu Das, a committed conceptual artist from National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, has long been influenced with the testimony of the Indian textile heritage, culture and skills. Today, Santanu nurtures his brainchild Maku – Maku, which means a weaving shuttle in Bengali.
Maku lives true to Santanu’s endeavour of nurturing the handloom practices, becoming aliened thanks to the recent wave of globalisation. The brand label is a frank slow fibre movement towards revival of traditional local practices in Bengal. It encourages the use of hand spun and hand woven cloth in natural Indigo, the designs of which are not conceived in plush air-conditioned studios in the cities but rather realised in collaboration with artisans on their looms.
The promotion of a single colour, indigo as a colour of sustenance and a statement towards better future is a conscious and deliberate decision of the brand. Maku is a silent revolution advocating the opposite by inciting ‘tolerance’ by limiting choice. As a tribute to the age-old textile practices rooted in Indian heritage and acknowledging weavers as artisans, not mere factory hands, Santanu handholds them giving shape to wearable art forms which appeal to global consumers, thus supporting expansion mode with limited diversification (limiting choice).
This seeds of the philosophy realised by Santanu, were sown back in his NID days. This is evident from the type of projects he undertook and contributions he made then. Right from skill development sessions at Kala Raksha Vidyalaya at Kutch to conducting Design and Skill development programme at Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (Gandhinagar, Gujarat) under National Centre for Design and Product Development (set up by Ministry of Textile, Govt of India), Santanu has tried to contribute his best in different capacities of the society.
His interest to get the Indian rural handloom sector acknowledged and utilised was also evident from his collection of high-end wall coverings for Lori Weitzner Design Inc. (New York), equipping the weavers to cater to the elite American clients.
Beyond the handloom industry, Santanu has also taken steps towards designing a system to develop a better living environment panning from recycling waste to distribution of wealth to the weaker section of the society.