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My Afternoon with Seema Krish

Last summer, when I was working on my proposal for the Junior League of Boston Show House, I knew I wanted to feature two fabrics on the upholstered day bed in my room, The Inner Sanctum. My process led me to a fabric from a source then unknown to me. The fabric--Breach Candy--was wavy with a background of cinnabar and white, embroidered with purple threads. The fabric came from Seema Krish.

After my proposal was accepted and it came time to order my fabrics, I discovered that Seema Krish was not just a fabric house. My showroom kept referring to "Seema," much like if I was ordering from Ralph Lauren, they might refer to "Ralph." Seema Krish was a person! She visited my room in the Show House, and we made plans to get together. My afternoon with Seema was yet another exciting opportunity to get an inside peak at a creative studio engaged in production (much like my visits to Kravet and Hickory Chair Company).

                           

                            In my 2012 Junior League of Boston Show House room (Seema, on the right)

Seema was born in Bombay, India and came to the United States to study textile design at FIT. From the time she finished her studies until the time she started her studio, she held many positions--from swatch cutter to design director--in different textile firms, among them Nuno and Robert Allen. Seema draws inspiration for her designs from her native India--the landscape and cultural influences she observed growing up there. In addition to producing beautiful fabrics, Seema is engaged in giving back: she engages Indian textile artisans to preserve the craft that otherwise might have been lost to higher-paying technology jobs and teaches these crafts to refugee women to give them a means of self-support.

When I spent my afternoon with Seema, I met her in her studio in Boston's South End. Her studio is one of many in a building brimming with artists, architects and designers. Seema's fabrics adorn the walls and even the lampshades over her conference table.

     

                                                          A wall of Seema Krish fabrics in her studio

                              

                              A pendant in Seema's studio composed of lamp shades made with her fabrics

Like any artist's studio, inspirational images are abundant and pinned wherever bare walls allow.

      

                                                                                  Over Seema's desk

                                 

                                                                    Friends and Family photos and drawings

Seema's library of design magazines prompted me to ask if she refers to them. (This is a common dilemma for designers: do you save the magazines you've read? Do you tear out and save just inspirational images? Or do you just throw out back issues because everything now is probably on the web? When Domino magazine shut down, many of us mourned not saving our back issues, prompting us to re-examine our save-or-purge strategies.)

                                  

                                                                      Seema's Magazine Library

Seema showed me some works in progress for a new line. She starts with a two-color design. Overlaying the design with tracing paper, Seema experiments with embellishments such as embroidery and appliques. Strike-offs show further experimentation with dyes and print techniques. There may be several rounds of experimentation before the colorways and patterns are set.

                                 

                                                                                         Seema at Work

After my studio tour, Seema and I shared a fabulous lunch at Coppa, steps away from her studio. It was then that Seema broke the news to me that she was moving with her family from Boston to San Francisco. I feel a proprietary loss--to have a both a friend and local talent leave my city. Boston's loss; San Francisco's gain.