By Anupam Dabral
Since childhood, Ishrat Sahgal was intrigued by small details. “I used to walk into spaces, observe art and architecture and wonder how I could make a difference as a creative person,” says the Chandigarh-born designer. She also had a desire to create something “cosy”. “I was always looking for little nooks and corners to curl up to spend my afternoon reading.”
It’s no wonder then that interior architecture ended up being a natural choice of career and Rhode Island School of Design was the perfect place to nurture it.
Studying and working in New York taught Ishrat to look at design with a global perspective while maintaining a strong Indian sensibility. She observed a gap in the Indian market and noticed how carpets were never considered to be a centerpiece while laying down décor scheme for space.
Inspired by the Conté drawings by Georges Seurat and the Lepanto panels by Cy Twombly, besides her all-time inspirations, Italian architect Carlo Scarpa and Japanese architect Tadao Ando, Ishrat set out to explore carpets as a medium of her creativity and also refurbish their image from something drab and boring to something that could uplift a living space.
Passionate about Indian handicrafts and sustainability, and possessing a keen eye for excellent workmanship and thoughtful design, Ishrat came across upcycled sari silk, a beautiful new material that is culturally significant and entrenched in Indian history. One thing led to another, and her ‘floor art’ label Mishcat Co was born in 2013. Her idea was to create carpets that were luxurious enough so that one could build a narrative around them.
Today, the Delhi-based Ishrat heads a design team full of passionate craftsmen who are on a never-ending drive to experiment, leading to endless ideas. “Our design team and weavers are encouraged to experiment with small swatches and samples of new things and contribute equally to new material mixes, patterns, and colorways. It is all super exciting and very inspiring,” says Ishrat, who works with sustainability in mind, using only leftover silk yarn from independent weavers in south India, dyeing with natural colours and restricting washes to a minimum during the finishing process.
The yarns they source come in a myriad of luminous colours. Ishrat’s team blends them together into skeins, and then weavers hand-knot them into carpets. Because of the different yarns available each time and the colour blending, each carpet ends up being one-of-a-kind.
In a country where carpet-making as an art form is passed on from the men of one generation to the next, Ishrat’s vision for the humble carpet stands out. Her carpets are more than just a piece of home décor vocabulary; they are collectibles, the result of art, interiors, and sustainable architecture coming together.
With India growing up to the sensibilities of not just fine living but responsible living too, Ishrat is the one to watch out for.
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