As part of the 90Caps series on Women of Substance, we feature 26-year-old Delhi-based fashion accessory designer Advaeita Mathur, who feels ‘design is an integral part of one’s existence’.
Please tell us about yourself
There must be something special about scrap that fires the creativity of some and disdain of others! Why else would a young lass make industrial junk her business and craft beautiful jewellery that is making waves amongst the discerning.
While fashion remains her first love, illustrations, photography, research and travel are passions that fuel her creativity. Meet Delhi-based fashion accessory designer Advaeita Mathur, 26, who feels “design is an integral part of one’s existence.”
Winner of e-commerce website Myntra’s ‘Fashion Incubator’ program for her accessory brand Metallurgy, Mathur had earlier won the ‘Young Designer Award’ and special mention for the most creative designer onboard. It was organised by the National Textile Corporation of India, 2013.
At an age when young girls dress up, preen and do all to look fetching, this young girl tinkered around with scrap and industrial junk.
“Mine is a classic Mathur family where academics reign supreme. So my sister and I have been blessed with good education. We were encouraged to pursue arts and all the extra-curricular activities the school had to offer.”
How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and uncommon career?
A rather confused child growing up, Mathur recalls asking her Mom what “I was supposed to become when I grew up. Ma had casually said – ‘well you could become a fashion designer but this is our secret!’ So as school ended I gave all my design entrances and cleared them as well. I also scored a 92.6 per cent in my Boards and suddenly my parents were rooting for St Stephen’s as a college of my choice!”
“I must’ve been one of the most reluctant applicants, but I finally chose Stephen’s based on a simple advice by Dad who said, ‘we’ll support you for whatever you choose. But in case you were to do design and not love it as much as you imagine now, we can’t afford to buy you a business afterwards. So, if you were to contemplate at least graduating from an academic course and still be convinced, I could still pay for another round of fashion graduation!’”
Tell us about your career path
After graduating in History from St Stephen’s, Mathur decided that her calling was not within the pages of her books but elsewhere, something esoteric, something creative, like a design course in Milan from Istituto Marangoni. “But I still got my first job (with fashion designer Tarun Tahiliani) partly because I was a Stephanian first!” she says with a tinkle in her voice.
Working with Tahiliani had its pluses and the last five years as a designer taught her that “designing is an act of balanced creation. A good design is about providing solutions but in a creative manner. What’s the point of designing a great looking shoe or bag which is uncomfortable and fulfills no utility?” she says.
“I am not sure when my focus shifted to jewellery design but I have always had an innate leaning towards a clean minimal aesthetic. I don’t know what it is about industrial raw parts and machinery but as they say ‘beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder’. Every time I see a wing nut or a vacuum tube or metal plumbing supplies, my brain begins to work on an auto mode to think of ways to make it into ‘wearable contemporary art jewellery’, she says of her obsession with industrial junk.
She started with using watch parts and then made a collection using 15 ampere electric fuses, followed by welding brass plumbing washers; converting a test tube into a pendant; a small capsule collection, “inspired by the constant construction that has come to symbolise the concept of ‘growth’ in our cities. I used concrete as a raw material in my jewellery. I am currently working on a collection of 3D printed jewellery. So it’s really a journey in the direction of creating a niche for ‘contemporary art jewellery’ which is concept driven and yet wearable without being just a piece of avant-garde creation,” she says.
How did you start Metallurgy?
“Every piece I make is for myself first and the optimistic fool in me believes that most people too will like it, for it to sell. It’s a belief that seems to be holding true till now. So I guess I never really thought of Metallurgy, it literally just came to me. ‘Metallurgy’ is all about making a statement!”
Apart from jewellery, Mathur also specialises in fashionable industrial products. She has created table lamps from salvaged music instruments, sourcing and buying worn out instruments from their original owners to re-condition them and convert them into lamps.
Often the lamp instruments have etchings made by the bandwallas who owned them and the unit which manufactured them. They almost always have many dents and scraps on their body but these are inherent to them. It is their USP! It’s all the imperfections that make them so special. But these are only made on order and take up a lot of time.
Mathur who quit Tahiliani’s job and decided to launch Metallurgy, a year ago, “with a small Facebook page on a Monday evening. I had jumped into business without a safety net in my hands! Because it’s funded entirely by me, it is a slow and restrained growth, especially because ‘Industrial Jewellery’ still appeals to a very niche section but it’s getting appreciated. Of course, apart from my own passion what keeps me going is the constant support and belief in me by my family and friends. If it weren’t for them, I might have quit just because of unfeasible logistics!”