JOURNEYS AND MEETINGS
Kullvi Whims stands for Women of Himachal Self-help group, from Kullu Valley. But the 'Whims' in our name also refers to the joy the women take in making each piece they weave or knit uniquely their own by adding little touches according to their whims and fancies to the motifs and patterns! The women are all traditional artisans, who learnt their craft practices of spinning, weaving, knitting and crochet from their family members and have mostly practiced their crafts for themselves, weaving pattus and blankets or knitting sweaters, mojiris and socks. Founded in 2012 by Nisha Subramaniam and Brighu Acharya, the brand stands for the beauty inherent in slow craft processes which match the seasonal rhythms of the mountain life of the artisans.
Kullvi Whims works with the gaddis - the pastoral tribe of the Himalayas who are the shepherds. Every year they traverse the high Himalayan ranges and walk thousands of kilometres with their sheep to traditional pasture lands. The indigenous wool that we procure from the gaddis and naturally dye with local flora is a tangible piece of the mountains that you wrap around you with every knitted or woven piece. Thus, in addition to exemplary handmade techniques, each and every piece tells the story of its maker and of journeys across the Himalayan landscape.
Working through this local value chain of pastoralists and traditional artisans, Kullvi Whims has created a brand which stands for sustainability, alternate systems and strong local economies.
DESIGN - STORYTELLING AT ITS BEST
Artisanal practices in Himachal Pradesh, be they weaves or knits have a very distinct identity in the motifs that are woven or knit. The iconic shawls from Kullu and Kinnaur and knit socks from Lahaul have all obtained Geographical Indications (GI), an Intellectual Property trademark, which is a recognition of their unique identity.
Kullvi Whims process centres around working with the strong design vocabulary and inherent creativity of the artisans. Through our conversations and collaborative approach which involves research into older pieces, designs and techniques we hold a space where intangible heritage can be transmitted and showcased by its keepers - our artisanal community.
Our inspirations come from our magnificent surroundings, heritage pieces as well as elements from traditional attire like the pattu or dhordo which results in contemporary weaves and knits born from a traditional identity. Techniques and design rooted in the place and people are celebrated right from the handspun yarn to the final fabric or product.
Nisha has been involved in community development and working with women artisans in Himachal for over 10 years. Her interest in traditional craft and how it can fit into the modern lifestyles of artisans while still maintaining its cultural context has motivated her to explore the craft, vernacular and pastoral traditions of Himachal in depth.
She is also a visiting faculty at Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore and Centre forEnvironment Planning and Technology (CEPT) University, Ahmedabad.
Brighu Raj Acharya
As founder of Himalayan Brothers Adventure, a local eco-travel company, Brighu is a co-founder of Kullvi Whims. He has an extensive knowledge of the local crafts and heritage of Kullu and surrounding valleys. Much of this has been gained during extensive travel visiting remote and often nearly inaccessible villages and hamlets. Over the past few years he has conducted many study and craft tours in various part of Himachal Pradesh. He has been energetic in spreading his philosophy of strengthening local practices through involving local youth to come together with students from urban areas in various activities like tree-planting, installing dustbins and beautifying the village.