" Keeping with my minimalistic design approach, I wanted the cases to look simple and classy. The other thing was they had to be compact so customers wouldn't have to worry about the case fitting in their bag or taking up too much space. They also had to be able to protect the earphones wholly which is why they couldn't be something like wire manager wraps which are simple and compact but don't necessarily provide protection to the earphones. And lastly, I wanted them to look like something customers were proud to own and show off. "
Why is leather the right material for a earphone case?
Leather as material is quite durable, complex and strong. It flexible and allows you to transform it in so many different ways. Choosing to make the earphone cases in leather makes sure they last for a really long time. And there's also the fact that leather is generally considered as a luxurious material. So it was the the right fit for earphone cases to achieve a premium look and feel as well as protect expensive earphones.
Why leather over everything else?
There is so much to learn about leather that I’m consistently learning new ways to handle and craft products out of it. It allows me to explore and transform a material in so many different ways.
Raghav got in touch with me about 2 months back looking to have some earphone cases designed. His brief was simple - He wanted classy, compact and lightweight cases that would primarily store and protect earphones well but also have a premium and well-designed feel to it. And that's exactly what I focused on. Using leather as our primary material was a given and gradually we came up with a geometry-inspired line of cases with various colour combinations.
How did you find the right artisans that brought the designs for the cases to life?
Hours and hours of walking around and exploring Dharavi, which is the hub for all things leather, for vendors and producers and talking to people in Dharavi and building connections with them led me to find the right vendors and producers to make these leather cases.
For these leather cases too, I had to handpick the leather and other materials myself, while the actual making of the product was left to my talented craftsmen.
How has your journey been thus far?
I have always loved to experiment with making different kinds of art. I got involved with leather around 2012. That's when I started The Black Canvas. I started off creating leather journals in my spare time from my room and since then I’ve expanded it to include a lot more leather products.
Its been a very satisfying journey personally. I’ve been growing creatively and am still mastering the art. There is a lot to learn in leather craftsmanship and that keeps me going. And then there’s also the business side of it. There are so many avenues to learn about building a brand besides making the products, like research, designing, vendor management, working with craftsmen, marketing, and selling. The brand has only been marketed on social networks besides word of mouth and it has steadily grown with orders coming in from domestic and international markets, and recently I have started an online store and expanded it to include or host of different leather products.
Its been extremely challenging while also juggling my photography business, but it has been immensely exciting and fun and I cannot wait to make bigger, better products.
When you're not focusing on The Black Canvas, you are...
I am primarily a photographer and I have been actively pursuing photography since the last few years. My expertise lays in mainly food and interior photography. The Black Canvas happened much later as another outlet for my creativity and I'm quite glad it did.
Three of your current favourite design inspirations
I have always been a fan of young, niche brands doing phenomenal work. Being a stationery-lover, I love what Origin One is doing to transform boring, cliche stationery products and the fact that its an Indian homegrown brand is a big thumbs up.
The other is an European brand called Hard Graft that makes luxury leather products. Their design philosophy resonates so much with mine.
The third is not really a product design inspiration but an American outfit called 1924us run by a young guy called Christian Watson. He's a poet, photographer, illustrator, tattoo artist, deep thinker and an all around nutcase.
Where do you derive inspirations for your projects?
It comes from pretty much everywhere. Half of my product line on The Black Canvas is inspired from my own need of well designed products. Like the camera straps for example. I have been a photographer for a while now it really irked me to know there weren't any cool, stylish products I could use with my cameras in the Indian market and that's how I landed up designing a whole range of photography products that included camera straps, camera bags, lens pouches, lens cap holders, battery and card cases.
What's next for The Black Canvas?
I’m always looking to create new designs and products. I’m now looking to work with laser cutting, engraving, woodworking and 3D printing with leather. I want to bring in a whole new level of customisation to my products and focus on merging form, design and functionality while remaining stylish. 3 years down the line, I am looking at creating a cohesive line of products that will adhere to this ideology and keep evolving with time.
Currently, working on a new range of products that will be launched soon. While my last product ranges were inspired from travel and felt material, this time I am exploring geometry and straight cuts. So keep an eye out, they should be launched soon.