Although Leah Singh’s career as a designer did not begin with textiles but rather with jewelry, from the very beginning of her artistic career she has been interested in all types artisanship found in India’s villages. “I saw those crafts slowly dying out,” she says, “Early on I knew I wanted to give back and provide these artisans work and keep the crafts going.” From the first, she explains, the mission of her textile and design company was to synthesize traditional Indian artisanship with modern design and bring the work of that collaboration to western markets. Her alliance with GoodWeave, she says, supports that goal. “My rugs are already ethically made and the GoodWeave certification validates that.”
Leah’s interest in and experience with Indian crafts and with the contemporary Western aesthetic that informs her designs came as naturally as the air she breathed growing up in India with an American father and Indian mother. “I was raised with these two different worlds so I have an understanding of the artisans and their culture, as well as the aesthetic of a Western customer.” Her concern for the village artisans took shape early on as well. As an art student in the prestigious Parsons School of Design in New York, she even wrote her senior thesis on strategies for helping sustain Indian artisans’ way of life. That student thesis exploring the idea of creating viable and broader markets for products using traditional craft techniques in tandem with a modern aesthetic became a kind of proto blueprint for the work she is doing now.
While the crafts are Indian, Leah says, the aesthetic is not Indian at all. “It’s very modern in both the colors and the patterns.” Leah points to the multi-hued rug, Alexi, with its Kandinsky influences but made using traditional Rajasthan weaving techniques. Midnight Round Rug, with its minimalist geometric design incorporates traditional Kashmiri embroidery techniques, which, she points out, are more typically used for intricate floral patterns. Leah says that her modern designs are inspired by wildly different and sometimes surprising things. For example, Leah updated the geometric prints of 80’s fashion for the rug Valerie. Some eye catching geometric nail art shows up in Hello and the vintage striped test patterns of old television screens experiencing technical difficulties became Technicolor Rug.
Leah says that the result of artistic collaboration between the traditional artisanship and contemporary design finds a market among younger “creatives” who are interested in craftsmanship as well as sustainability and conscious consumption. Her buyers, she believes, appreciate her concern for the social issues involved in the creation of her products. “My whole brand is based on this. I spent energy and time from the beginning so I could be confident my products are made ethically,” she says with passion. “So I want people to know the rugs are GoodWeave certified. They will trust that.”
For more information see: leahsingh.com