designer leah singh

Leah Singh travels between her two homes to create jewellery and home textiles. She studied industrial design in New York but has her wares made in India. The ranges were inspired after completing her thesis at Parsons. The fabrics she designs for cushions are created by Indian artisans using traditional craft techniques while the jewellery is made from bone, a by-product of the farming industry.

Which five words best describe you? Shy, passionate, sensitive, flexible, thoughtful.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? My career took off after I graduated from The Parsons School of Design. It was a continuation of my senior thesis - “A good life” - the goal being to address any problem that we were passionate about and then to design a solution. I decided to work with artisans in India, who are exploited and underpaid for all the labour intensive work they do. I worked with artisans who handcraft bone products and with them I designed lighting. After graduating I moved back to India to refine the design and start my own company. I loved working with the artisans on my thesis so I didn’t see any other options but to go to work with them after graduating. However, after returning to India and being surrounded by innumerable handicrafts, I began to explore craft techniques other than bone and found my calling in textiles and jewellery. I am still working with the bone artisans to craft my jewellery, and I work with various women groups in different villages to create home textiles that use traditional Indian craft techniques but which have a contemporary aesthetc. I am inspired by Carlo Scarpa, architecture, geometry, and colour. The textiles (embroidery, hand-weaving) and jewellery allow me to play with surface design, one being two dimensional and the other three dimensional.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? To not let my thoughts and creativity get drowned out by the world.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Others being as passionate and enthusiastic about my work as I am.
What’s been your best decision? To start my own company and do what I love - design - and at the same time helping to provide employment to the artisans I work with, keeping their craft alive by finding new markets.
Who inspires you? My friends. My generation. The artisans I work with.
What are you passionate about? The environment, design and desserts.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? My mother’s father.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I have many! But I guess first on the list is to travel as far and wide as possible to experience different people and their cultures, and collect inspiration along the way.
What are you reading? Just finished Behind the beautiful forevers by Katherine Boo.

images courtesy of leah singh