Hand and Soul of Paithani | Pune

This project was conceived in September 2016 as part of collaboration between Central Saint Martins and MIT-ID Pune under the Social Immersion- Design for Social Needs programme.Started with having a conversation with Director of MIT- ID Pune, Prof. Dhimant Panchal and Associate Prof. Harshit Desai, a very spontaneous plan to visit the Paithan village came about. Paithan is very well known as the origin of the Paithani Sarees- handwoven silk, one of the richest saris in India. A collaborative project between Andres Restrepo and Geetanjali, they started our journey towards the village and discovered treasures, whose existence we were completely unaware of before. They were lucky enough to visit the one and only Handloom centre with about 100 functional units, and see in action the making process of the saree. They were on a quest to listen to stories of the makers as well as the heads of the organisation, and weave our own to take it back to the students of MIT-ID. To showcase our findings back in the college, they came up with a quick intervention, pre- mapping the emotional of someone who has no clue about these sarees beyond their name.

Andres and Geetanjali used existing materials present in the space, and used a cheap version of the saree to create an atmosphere which blended with the story we wanted to tell.

With the help of a short set of questions covering the history of the sarees, leading upto a movie which they created to convey the present, to be able to forecast possible scenarios for the future of this saree. They repeated this with about 40 students from various disciplines of design, and got some really interesting ideas, and feedback to how this craft can live if the need of the sarees diminishes, or the soul of the maker travel to places beyond the confinement of the village.