Adorn is a bi-monthly magazine dedicated to luxury jewellery

Riding High on Ideas

SHARE
, / 1374 0
Avantika Kumar Agrawal

Avantika Kumar Agrawal

Call it lack of nerves or the inability to express her feelings, ace jewellery designer AVANTIKA KUMAR AGRAWAL fell in line with the conventional ‘engineering-or-medical’ study route taken by most youngsters in India. The result? She went through a four-year engineering course enduring a tedious journey. It was only after a lot of soul-searching that Avantika, who was bitten by the designing bug, decided to follow her instincts. Thereafter, she embarked on a tour that liberated her from the trappings of her own doing. Soon, success followed her like a shadow. In a span of one year, her ‘Aaraa by Avantika’ jewellery brand now sells exclusive and distinctive baubles online. After all, it pays to listen to your heart.

By SHANOO BIJLANI

Listen  to your instincts and  you will get instant payoffs; ignore it, and  you get a creative  heartburn just as Avantika  Kumar Agrawal of Pune, Maharashtra, experienced before she found an outlet to release her  pent-up artistic energy.  Sometimes, it is important to tone  down  the voice of reason and  pay attention to the voice of the heart to find peace  and  joy in wanting to do something that  one likes.

As a child, Avantika  loved to dabble in arts and  craft. The  crayon-scribbled walls of her  house bore testimony to the fact that  she was born for designing. “A box of coloured pencils was enough to brighten up my face then,” she recalls  with a smile. “Throughout my schooling, I held  on to my passion for drawing, sketching and painting.” She  even won many prizes  in various  prestigious painting and  drawing competitions at the regional and  national level, including drawing competitions held  by Unicef, Sakal, Indian Express and Camlin to name  a few.

However, somewhere down  the road,  she chose  to disregard her ‘inner calling’. Instead, she paid  heed to her  parents’ wishes  and opted for an engineering course. “I was 17 then, and  my thoughts had not yet crystallised. I went with the flow as I didn’t want to hassle  my parents,” she reveals.  But during those four years at the college, she experienced a strong pull towards creative arts. She’d wrap up her college assignments quickly so she could spend hours in front of the canvas, sketching and painting. She also dabbled in jewellery created from paper and wood and sold it through local boutiques in Pune.

“At the end  of the engineering course, it dawned on me to make a career out of something that I loved doing,” she notes. “My parents, too, helped me find my calling. On one of his business trips  to Ahmedabad, my father happened to visit the National Institute of Design (NID). He came back impressed with the philosophy and culture of the institute. He met the then director of NID, Darlie Koshy, who informed him that  I could  make a career shift and study  for a post-graduate course in Design. And that  is how I landed at NID to study  the Lifestyle Accessory Design course.”

The  transition from being  an engineer to a designer was a journey of self-discovery for Avantika.  As an engineer, she had  been trained to work on a bigger canvas, and in the case of designing, it was the other way round. “It was difficult to initially comprehend these conflicting ideas, but hard work and good guidance helped me to arrive at a balance in my designs,” she says. “NID helped me discover my passion for creativity. It has so far been one of the best experiences of my life. The course enabled me to articulate my imagination and inventiveness through design. Under the guidance of my mentor Shimul Mehta Vyas, I was able to resolve the differences between engineering and design and bring  together the strong points of both the disciplines in my creations.”

Post-NID, the designer interned with Amrapali Jewels, Jaipur, for eight months and got hands-on experience to hone her  skills as a jewellery designer, and  learnt about running a jewellery business, right  from manufacturing to pricing and marketing. Her work at Amrapali included a lightweight silver jewellery  collection, and four theme-based collections in gold-plated silver, including fashion accessories like hairbands, belt buckles, key chains, key charms, and brooches.

Soon, Avantika went solo and debuted at the India International Jewellery Week 2010 showcasing the ‘Aurum’ collection for which she received rave reviews. Thereon, there was no looking back. In September 2012, ‘Aaraa by Avantika’ was launched online. The brand has two lines of jewellery and accessories. The  first is a Zardosi collection, and all the pieces are woven by Avantika. To retain its exclusivity, she ensures that she doesn’t repeat her designs. The patterns are modern, but also reminiscent of the Indian traditional heritage. The Zardosi line consists of bold neckpieces, rings, brooches, hairbands, hair  pins, and  more.

The  second line is made  of sterling silver, which  is unique. The pieces  sit lightly on the person and  the pocket. “I design bold pieces but  make sure  they are not heavy or uncomfortable to wear.” She incorporates a combination of jaali (trellis) work, textures, surface finishes such  as oxidisation, gold plating, matt  and high  finish. “This fusion  is one of the most  important aspects of my design.”

Silver clearly is the artist’s  favourite medium because of the metal’s versatility; plus, it is not as expensive as gold, so it offers more avenues for experimentation. “I like to work with a fusion  of finishes and  textures which  is quite  easily achievable in silver. Maybe someday, if I ever get a chance to develop the same in gold, I will try my hand at it.”

Avantika  retails  through her  Facebook page (www.facebook.com/AaraabyAvantika). Interested clients browse through the catalogue and  get in touch with her through email. “Social  media  network has enabled me to connect with global  clientele. I can directly reach out to my clients all over the world  and  interact with them  to understand their needs,” she comments.

‘Aaraa by Avantika’ entices a woman with an urbane outlook; one who is stylish and understands the depth and design values of Aaraa. Age is therefore no barrier and her clients range from across different age groups.

Aaraa (adornment in Arabic) offers jewellery assemblages that create an entirely new language with interplay of ethnic and modern ideas. Avantika experiences a creative catharsis as she explores, exploits, and  combines different materials to achieve one-off  pieces with a traditional tinge. Her designs reflect  her  ideology, which  is not just limited to adornment, but is an all-inclusive process involving different aspects of her life – from decorating her house to reading and cooking. She admits to reading and researching on the topics  before creating a mood board for a particular collection.

But her assemblages get livelier  with the use of coloured gemstones. “For me they are an important part of my designs. Amethyst, turquoise and pearls are among the few gemstones that I enjoy working with because of the qualities they radiate. Amethyst is a very  sensual stone  that  brings out the feminine and  mystic quality in jewellery. Turquoise and  pearls add a serene and  positive  touch to a pattern,” notes  Avantika.

Besides gems, the young designer is also hugely inspired by the lotus flower. The logo of her brand bears a lotus on the tip of the first letter ‘a’ of Aaraa. “I am strongly attracted and influenced by the mystical and  spiritual qualities of this graceful flower and its form. I also find myself connecting strongly to my roots, by drawing inspiration from it even in this urbanised world.”

When she is not designing, Avantika loves to read. Currently, she is digging  into the past and  is laying her hands on books related to mythology, Indian traditions, history and culture. Watching movies and listening to music also interest her. Photography is another channel for self expression for this multifaceted artist.

This is one artist who has taken life’s lessons to heart. She believes that if one is passionately driven by a cause, then success is inevitable. Well said, well learned!

PASSWORD RESET

one × 1 =

LOG IN