In our current circumstances, it is hard to imagine what the living conditions of 2020 and 2021 were like. Of the many outcomes of the global lockdown, a surprising number of creative projects were birth under the most unusual conditions. One such project was a collaboration between Bengaluru-based luxury furnishing label Atmosphere, and New York-based boutique design firm Pollack Associates. Both the design studio’s have a long textile design legacy and they come together to jointly design and unveil ‘After Hours’ a new collection of upholstery and drapery fabrics. Atmosphere is a retail off-shot from the Himatsingka Seide, a world-renowned manufacturer of furnishing fabrics, exporting across the world for the last 35 years. Pollack, also has a 35-year legacy, which has been focused on creating unique furnishings with innovative designs from manufacturers across the world.
While the collaboration was realised during the pandemic, the idea of the collaboration was conceived just before the lockdowns were put into effect. Dinesh Himatsingka, Executive Chairman, Himatsingka Seide Limited spoke to STIR on the collaboration saying, “We did not do it as a very logical or commercial deal. We have been in touch with each other for over 20 to 25 years. During one of my conversations with Susan, I mentioned that India is emerging as an important market. This is the first step we have taken, hopefully, there is more to come. Both Pollack and Atmosphere are known as a company led by design. We take pride in doing what we do.”
Susan Whalen, President, Pollack Associates, added “A week before lockdown we meet in New York, we were already been talking about this idea at that time. It was this opportunity to figure out how this would work and what the timing would be. After Covid, Rachel takes on this task to create this collection, not being in our studio, without all of her resources, yarns, and references, it was an interesting experiment.” With a range of patterns, textures, and colours one has to wonder about the process of designing this collection whilst still locked indoors.
Yet it was the situation itself that inspired the collection. Rachel Doriss, Design Director at Pollack Associates explained, “We go with our gut and what inspires us individually as designers and artists. The collaboration between the studios is a great marriage. When we do our selection, we think about the market but we also think about something new and unexpected. That gets your heart beating, it is really hard to put your finger on it because there is no formulae. It is like a collective unconscious where you see different colour combinations out in the world and it gets embedded inside. With this collection, we wanted to create this mood that had this after-hours vibe. We envisioned a lot of the colours of this collection looking beautiful in candlelight.”
“After Hours'' was unveiled in Mumbai, India on September 15 2022, with a unique textile installation by reD architects at their studio. The collection will be introduced in Bengaluru by interior designer Vinita Chaitanya on September 21 at Atmosphere’s flagship store. The namesake ‘After Hours’ is a viscose velvet with a filament yarn used to create chevron shapes that dissipate into open space. ‘Fantasy Land’ showcases an antiqued and weathered look achieved with a warp satin construction playing with three different hues of weft yarns that peek through to the face. Other fabrics in the collection such as ‘Ebru’, ‘Dandy’, ‘Metamorphosis’ and ‘Serpentine’ are sophisticated contemporary designs that can be used as both drapery and upholstery. The “After Hours” collection has bold patterns and modern aesthetics.
On the collection itself Jayshree Poddar, Design Director at Himatsingka Seide Limited elaborated on the collaborative nature of Atmosphere and Pollack’s collection saying, “We design textiles not based on trends but on what we think is appropriate for now. So usually what we carry with us in our suitcases to show to clients is usually fully resolved. It was very interesting to interact with the Pollack team, mainly Rachel because we did show the fabrics we had made and Rachel and her team also design some very interesting new things. For an editor like Pollack, the way they put together things, the way they select colours, is of great importance.” The conversation highlighted the collaboration as one that is not only between two studios but rather between textile designers.
Yet the studios were working halfway across the world in opposite time zones. Doriss explained, “We used the mail. We have a lot of woven samples from the mill and they sent things to me. I would work at home with pencil and paper and send that to the mill as a photograph. At Pollack we understand weaving, so the two studios speak the same language. The mill is the expert but we understand the capabilities very well.” Poddar also spoke of the understanding between the two studios, “The looms have specific repeat sizes, you can’t break that. The team at Pollack is well aware of our repeat sizes. So, when they sent us a pattern, it is specified it will be 1/4th or half-width. That is the easiest part in fact. The structuring is the more complex part because the mill has 80 substrates. What you use and why becomes very important. Designing textile is a very material thing. It is very tough to pull this off, but we did.”
A nuanced set of textiles with plush textures, intricate embroideries, complex hues and elegant patterns After Hours is a collection that can potentially have value in both the US and Indian markets.