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Candles glowing in beautiful shell candle holders, plates placed on elegant golden hued mats, cut glass vases adding a sparkle and a mother’s discerning touch making it all the more special. These are the memories that have shaped the journey of acclaimed tableware designer Mudita Mull.
An Inspired Childhood
Growing up in Lucknow, in a family that owned the famed C Mull & Co. photography studio, Mudita Mull was surrounded by art in her ‘mini-museum’ house. “Though the studio wound up before my time, our house had many beautiful fine prints, paintings, and photographs of Maharanis,” says Mudita. “Also, my mother, who is an interior designer, collected many artifacts and integrated them beautifully with the interiors of our home. I guess that is where I developed my artistic sense.”
(Beautiful creations by Mudita Mull)
Mudita distinctly remembers how her mother made every occasion special with her elegantly laid dinner tables. “I loved coming to the table,” says Mudita. “My mother had an exquisite collection of tea sets and tableware like metallic roses, which were so different for that time.”
(Bird Cage Dome by Mudita Mull, perfect for a tea party)
Looking back, Mudita admits that though while growing up she did not pay much attention to the city of her childhood, Lucknow, it has found its way into her creations. She credits much of the elegance in her detailed artwork, to the architecture and rich textiles of Lucknow. One can see glimpses of this influence in the way Mudita has used the Aari embroidery technique to create detailed lace-like trays and other home furnishing pieces.
Mudita always knew that she wanted to pursue design or art, as she found great joy in creating crafts. She found the perfect playground to experiment and try new things when she studied Accessory Design at NIFT, New Delhi. “The course gave me a lot of confidence, as we dabbled in many forms like jewelry making, leather crafts and metal work,” says Mudita. “It also taught me the all-important skill of being able to put thoughts on paper.”
Drawn towards metal, Mudita interned at Michael Aram for her final year Diploma Project. By the end of the project she knew the material like the back of her hand. Mudita stayed on at the firm, and eventually became ‘Head of Design’ at Michael Aram.
“When I joined Michael Aram, I was very new to the business of design,” says Mudita. “It was here that I learnt to look at quantity, price point and the work flow of design to sampling to production to marketing.” Finally, in 2010, she launched Mudita Mull Designs, with a vision of creating an Indian brand that embodies universal luxury.
A Confluence of Various Forms
Today, Mudita Mull is a much-awarded designer who handcrafts every one of her pieces and does her own sculpting. She enjoys working with metal, wood and glass, and mixing them together to suit the design.
Mudita also uses various art forms in her collections. “I believe I’m lucky to be in India as we have so much art and craft surrounding us,” says Mudita. “I use glass work from Ferozabad, woodwork from Saharanpur, resin work from Jodhpur, and inlay work from Agra, among others. In fact, the riveted bowls in my collection are done by women in their homes.”
Flowers to Museums
Mudita has a special affinity for nature and “can’t get enough of flowers”. She draws inspiration from her time spent as a child in many hill station gardens during summer holidays. Her passion finds form in many of her creations - the blossoms that adorn her bowls, gold plated butterflies, hydrangea plates and the intricate tendrils that wind themselves around vases.
“One of the most difficult things we created were these silver fold vines as it was very hard to mould,” says Mudita. “Also, my monsoon collection was a very complex project at it is difficult to get that finish in stainless steel. However, my artisans and I like to be challenged as our best work comes from it.”
Besides nature, Mudita also find inspiration in museums, palaces and flea markets. “I explore the design vocabulary of a place to understand the things that people used at a particular time,” says Mudita. “My Antoinette collection is one in which I have drawn inspiration from the architecture of Versailles.”
(Cake Stand from Mudita Mull's Antoinette Collection, with Versailles inspired design)
Functionality and Form
One of the most important things that Mudita focuses on in her creations, is the marriage of functionality and form. The multipurpose cherry bowl, in which you can place pistachios on one side and the shells in the other, for instance, is only one among many thoughtfully designed pieces.
“Many of my pieces work with different settings and purposes,” says Mudita. “The bowl with tropical leaves works with salads and in the outdoors, while desserts look great in my Antoinette collection. It is when I am entertaining and setting the table that I explore different utilitarian needs that a person may have.”
It is these explorations that have now lead Mudita to focus more on India as a market. She has worked with chefs in India to create tableware specifically designed for Indian food. “Earlier, our brand focused on the U.S. and other markets,” says Mudita. “Now I am excited by the prospects in India.
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