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source: Architectural Digest, India

The rising air pollution in India’s Northern Plains is a nagging global concern. The air is heavy, you can never take a lungful, 9 out of 10 most polluted cities are right here and it’s sad that we wanted to package air from Sweden and breathe it in here. It’s all fun when you crack Delhi jokes but truth like a chronic pain continues to throb at the back of it all. Perhaps why there was an instant connect to IKEA FÖRÄNDRING- a new series of boxes, baskets, mats, lamps are made from recycled rice straws that prevent farmers from burning crops and polluting the environment.

FÖRÄNDRING means Change and that’s what it’ll do

Source © Inter IKEA Systems B.V. 2019.

Burning of rice straws in the northern plains contributes to massive smog and pollution in the region and every year Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh witness a significant rise in air pollution because of burning crops. In 2018, IKEA launched the ‘Better Air Now’ initiative with the aim to take action on this global environmental issue and FÖRÄNDRING is a result of this.

Dowsed in greys and blues that represents the present condition of air and hopes for a better future, FÖRÄNDRING will be launched in fall 2019 and I am very excited.

BTS: A bit more about the series & Akanksha Deo Sharma who spearheaded the collection along with Iina Vuorivirta.

Source © Inter IKEA Systems B.V. 2019

Can you tell me a little about how the project came into being?

The folks here at IKEA have been working on the ‘Better Air Now’ Initiative since more than two years. It requires a lot of groundwork, research and being in cooperation with external organisations. Once they were ready with that, they approached us designers to work on a collection entirely made up from rice straws that otherwise was burnt by farmers and pollute the air.

How did it start and how you and your team went about the designs?
The brief was the issue at hand and the context within which we had to play around. The material was the most important thing to be considered and from there on we moved to different techniques, functions, form and price.

The chief inspirations in creating the line and the technique of weaving.
The inspiration came from the positive story at the background around the collection. We were inspired by acquiring knowledge on the material, its properties and qualities. I had a lot of fun exploring the moulding and cording techniques that we use in the collection. Regarding weaving, we Wanted to create a fun family of rugs and table mats to coordinate with the rest of the collection. We aimed at representing the story through colours, weaving patterns and constructions

TÄNKVÄRD . A collection that Akanksha Deo Sharma worked on. Source: © Inter IKEA Systems B.V. 2019.

Did you always want to work with design? When is it that you found out that design is your calling? What did you want to become when you were you 6 years old?

No, I think I wanted to be a gymnast when I was 6. I studied fashion and textiles and parallel to that got interested in further disciplines of design. 

What are few of your earliest works and a piece you are very proud of? 
I did a lot of photo stories/ series as part of my early works. ‘The Mannequin Series’ and ‘The Vessel Project’ are still ongoing.
 I’m proud of my graduation collection/project titled ‘The Indigo Experiment’ which comprises of my explorations with natural indigo dyeing and block printing on knitwear. 

ÄNGLATÅRAR of which Akanksha was a part of. Source © Inter IKEA Systems B.V. 2019.

As an artist, what inspires you? Is it nature? City? Life? Dregs? The extraordinary or the mundane? Give us a little about the creative process you follow. 

I have an affinity for the mundane however I recently came across something American artist Justin Brice Guariglia said in an informative piece, ‘Artists play an increasingly important role in society today. While in the past artists created fictions, today we are living in a world of fictions, and artists need help us access reality’. My creative process differs between art and design, depending on the kind of projects, the context and the objective it serves. 

Do you believe in routine. Is there a particular routine you follow or do you think its absolutely absurd being a creature of routine?


Perspiration is more important than inspiration. Regular practice is essential. 


Silence or music while working? If music, what? Your 5 all time fav work music would be? 
There’s absolutely no fixed music. I occasionally enjoy podcasts too.

My cats are called Michiko Whiteclaw and Muzulu Sir sterling and there is absolutely no history behind it. Does Marjory Stewart Baxter have a Baxstory? 

I saw her the first time and I knew that was going to be her name. It’s a character based out of a flash animation web series called Saladfingers.


We love what you wear. Hands down. But in your word, what’s your personal fashion like? Who are your fav Indian, modern designers?

I enjoy the works of Rashmi Varma, Lovebirds, Bodice, 11.11 by cellDSGN, Raw mango, Anomaly, Melt & Olivia Dar.

How much of you are we seeing in 2020.

Förändring will release in 2019 autumn. There will be a seasonal lighting collection Sommar Solvinden 2020 where I have collaborated with a Finnish designer Hanna-Kaarina Heikkilä. Sustainable products made out of textile scraps like rag rugs along with some core products developed with water hyacinth and seagrass.

If there’s anything you want to tell me. 
Much love to you & baxter from me. ( Baxter is a street gangster cat)

FIN

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