Varanasi Weavers, a project of Upasana Design Studio, seeks to create an empowered weaver society by combining the best of weaving heritage with modern management.
Varanasi Weavers is funded in part by the Bestseller Fund (www.bestseller.com), based in Denmark. Bestseller is a family-owned clothing company that places high priority on helping people in need. It is involved in various development projects around the world.
Bestseller decided to help the Varanasi community after learning about its decline; it placed an order for 13,000 silk scarves as a New Year’s gift for employees in 2006. Upasana Design Studio executed the project, and decided to continue working with the artisans to develop the craft once the order was completed.
Upasana design studio was founded in 1997 by Uma Haimavati in Auroville, Tamil Nadu, India (www.upasana.in). Initially, Upasana explored the idea of Know India Through Textiles by designing clothes using traditional Indian textiles. Upasana saw that India is one of the few countries in the world which still carries a strong cultural communication through its traditional textiles. Every state of India expresses its unique personality through specific textiles, and Upasana wishes to bring this to the forefront.
As a natural response to the tsunami devastation in 2004 in the coastal areas of Auroville, Upasana ventured into the field of social development with a strong focus on how to apply design for social welfare. The project was called Tsunamika, and since then, Upasana has initiated various projects exploring the potential of Socially Responsible Design.
Some projects are listed below:
In Upasana, the scope of design has been enlarged to be integral so that it touches all the facets of a product’s life-cycle - those who design and produce it, those who use it, the larger socio-cultural context and the environment. Upasana has become a platform where students and volunteers from different parts of India and abroad come to learn and contribute to ongoing projects. They learn through real life engagements and creative exploration of Socially Responsible Design.
Currently, Upasana is engaged in various fields including: developing social entrepreneurs, consumer literacy though brand communication, product design, sustainable fashion and facilitation of social projects in various parts of India.
The essential philosophy of the studio can be defined in one line –
“There is only one user, the Supreme Self who dwells in all.”