Delhi-based Seerat Narindra believes one has to have a fire in the belly, sincere dedication and trust in God to succeed. It was this fire and trust that led her to Italy’s fashion capital Milan at the tender age of 16.
Narindra is a qualified interior designer, graphic artist, costume designer, fashion innovator, producer, choreographer, dancer, artist, model, graphic, ambience and interior designer. Her works and performances have won thunderous applause at home and abroad.
The first Indian and youngest graduate from the Academy Of Applied Arts (Accademia Arti Applicate) and Academy Of Brera (Accademia delle Belle Arti di BRERA) in Milan, Narindra was also the first Indian designer to be interviewed by the Italian media. “I used to record all lectures in audio cassettes and get them translated. Eventually, I learnt Italian. My professors and friends helped a lot,” she recollects.
After receiving the degrees and having worked as a designer for Internationally-famed company Cartiere Paolo Pigna, leading magazines like GIOIA and Corriere Dei Regazzi, she returned to her homeland to learn more of the Indian traditional arts and culture. Here, her creativity found a new expression in the form of design development, study and research of different crafts and dance. She has worked with master craftsmen in Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Delhi etc.
She learnt Odissi from the celebrated maestro Guru Hare Krishna Behera. Her fascination for traditional Indian art led to her mastery of some folk dances – Ghoomer, Dandia, Roof, Madia, Lavani, Giddha and Tribal Naga – under the able guidance of Shri Raghavan Nair. “Once a dancer, always a dancer. I am forever ready to shake a leg,” she pointed.
Seerat Narindra is a recipient of the prestigious Premio Milano, Premio Degas and best student (twice) awards in Italy, followed by the Mahila Gaurav Puraskar and Adharshila (1994), Bharat Nirman (1993) and C.L. Nepali awards (1996) in India.
Her family had migrated from Pakistan. “My uncle, a freedom fighter, 16th descendent of Guru Baba Nanak and a scholar and my British aunt influenced my upbringing. Our house was open to all. They taught me to respect all, never err and never tolerate nonsense. My family encouraged me at every step,” she stated.
Her brainchild Decorative Arts was born in 1977. The company has ventured in to interiors, graphics, ambience and choreography and was involved in producing a number of artistic pageants and various cultural festivals on behalf of India’s Ministries of Tourism, Culture and External Affairs of India in India and abroad.
In the wealth of its wide-ranging repertoire, Decorative Arts specializes in the following:
Production, presentation, design and choreography of:
- Multimedia pageants
- Cultural presentations
- Artistic fashion pageants
- Product launches
- Opening and closing ceremonies
- Costumes / fashions / uniforms
- Graphics (Corporate identity, logos, posters, brochures, stationery…)
- Exhibitions’ advertising and promotions
Designer tables’ exhibition was a brilliant innovation of Narindra’s. The designer pieces combined the beauty and richness of traditional craftsmanship with the simplicity and elegance of modern lines. Later, she channelized her creative energies to help revive and promote a dying cause – the lace craft of Andhra Pradesh. Juxtaposing the delicacy of lace with the lustre of fabrics like silk and tissue, Seerat went on to design the first ever exclusive lace ensembles collection in India, which was very well received at exhibitions in Delhi and Mumbai.
Her very challenging and unique project was the rehabilitation through arts and crafts of some Lambadi tribal women, affected by Latur earthquake. She trained and guided the women to craft garments and home furnishing items for national and international market. The project culminated in the form of a multimedia presentation-cum-exhibition ‘Colours Of Hope’.
Narindra has been designing the ambience for the famous Surajkund mela for four years now. It started with an advertisement in a newspaper, she recalls. “The organisors wanted to create an ‘ambience’. The word ‘rang’ (colours) rang in my mind. I was a frequent visitor and confident of being able to design the premises. First time, the challenge was to do it in 15 days,” she said recalling how her team picked up brooms, baskets and bamboos …whatever came handy. They added greenery as the plot was very barren and used bricks and tiles to cover the dust. “I had to put myself in the customer’s mind to think of what they would like to see. In 2013, I picked up the theme of lord of energy ‘suraj’ (Sun), national bird and symbol of Haryana Tourism ‘peacock’ and ‘tree’ as the symbol of growth. In 2014, the theme chosen was ‘spring’. In 2015, the theme was ‘seasonal melody’ depicting the five seasons,” she pointed.
A strong flavour of ‘Indian-ness’ permeates every aspect of the designs and art created by Seerat. “One must remain rooted and take pride in what we are instead of blindly imitating the West. We must not lose our identity. Being different is important. I was amongst the first designers to work on jute. Also, one must learn the good and ignore the bad. I have always been open to learning and adapting. People management is a skill. You can achieve that only if you inspire people using your genuine talent,” she pointed.
Her painstaking work has helped to put jute garments in the fashion orbit. She has also designed costumes for various stage/TV presentations including fashion shows and ballets presented in India and abroad.
Other achievements include a series of literature designs for the Italian Embassy including its Cultural Centre in Delhi and for the European Union Cultural Festival. She has also created the corporate identity for the Asian Hotels Group.
Designing costumes for the opening ceremony of Commonwealth Games was another feather in her cap. In 2013, she was selected to design street décor, installations and promotional material for EUROPALIA INDIA Festival at Brussels, inaugurated by the President of India and the King and Queen of Belgium.
Not part of the rat race, she insists on drawing a link between the old and the new to find a connection between tradition and modernity.
Passionate about her work, Seerat Narindra says anything different and challenging inspires her. “I try to search for a ‘meaning’ and opportunity to express myself,” she said adding, “I always wanted to be a fighter pilot. Universe charts our destinies and we should keep doing our best with total commitment, conviction and gratitude”.