Tuesday, 29 January 2013

A Winter Classic

Snowman wearing sunglasses, strawhat & rainbow scarf
Neelam loves classic design.

She loves Indian design, but at this stage she wants to concentrate on less geographically specific 'Look's.   One of the problems is expectations. Because Neelam is Indian by birth, people who meet her enthuse about the colours, the patterns, the textures and the fabrics of Indian products and assume that she will produce similar designs.  Neelam shares their enthusiasm, but when people in Britain talk about Indian design, they often do so in the same way that they talk about Indian food.  Ethnically, culturally and linguistically, India is probably less homogeneous than the European Union.

Neelam likes the 'traditional' Indian looks that are admired by people here.  She also likes modern reworkings of them (such as those sold by Yuti, her niece), and she likes styles that are less well-known in the West - such as Madhubani and Warli.  Above all though, she appreciates classics.

Designs evolve as a result of a combination of culture, environment, technology and tradition.    Most parts of the world for example, have traditional clothing based on long strips of cloth that are wrapped around the whole body (kilts, kimonos, saris, sarongs, togas, etc).  The type of cloth (cotton, linen, silk, wool) depends on the environment, as does the availability of dyes (e.g., woad, saffron, carmine).

Crude snowman with coal eyes, carrot nose, flat cap and scarfTechnology affects tradition.  When cultures discovered stitching, it became possible to have clothing cut and shaped (tailor-made) to cover specific parts of the body, and it increased possibilities for adornment.
Recently, Neelam had the opportunity to recreate a classic design that was not available to her in her youth.  She grew up in South India, where the environment is not conducive to the construction of snow figures.  Last week's snowfall in Sheffield meant that she could make up for lost opportunities in her youth.  Her first effort provided a useful mannequin for Look-in-the-Bag,  but in the end, she decided she preferred the classic snowman look.

However, even in the construction of snowpeople, technology has an impact.  US Patents 3059279, 375964, 4164341, 535348, 5632926, 6176464 and 7963500 are all for different designs of snowman mould.

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