Meet a Designer with a Difference
Vijayalakshmi Rudrappan is a designer and entrepreneur who mentors highly skilled floral craftspersons of the Kongu region of South India (Coimbatore and neighboring districts) and across Tamilnadu, giving them a contemporary platform for traditional skills and artistry.
Vijayalakshmi has been encouraging traditional garland makers and flower craftsmen to upskill their art to leverage current global trends while staying true to their innate traditions. This initiative of Vijayalakshmi, inspired and supported by her octogenarian mother Mrs. Indira Venkatsamy, has been providing livelihood and opportunities for many over the past 25 years.
Her work has been featured in the Architectural Digest. She and her mother have been acknowledged for their contribution in a tribute to flowers, Pushpanjali, a publication by the Crafts Council. She has worked with top flower artist from Thailand and has been invited to present her work at the Thai Princess birthday celebrations.
She has been associated with INTACH ( Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) and CII (Confederation of Indian Industries). she was invited to present her craft and artistry at Tamilnadu's first ever TTM (Tourism Mart - Oct 12-15 2017) to showcase Tamilnadu is an elegant and unique manner.
Her social enterprise, recently restructured and undergoing rebranding, is called Krishna Parijata, a name that evokes divine associations and simple, elegant beauty.
These links are a mere glimpse into her exquisite repertoire of over 25 years.
In conversation with Vijayalakshmi Rudrappan - DesignLuv grabs exclusive time with the designer when she is relaxed and more concerned about her farm than her floral craft!
Growing up, my sister and I were always observing our mother, Indra Venkatasamy, gathering flowers and weaving exquisite garlands for her Pooja and temples. Our college days in a small town called Udumalpet gave us ample time and space to admire and even attempt to learn and appreciate this fine traditional craft.
20 years down the line, managing a corporate life and pursuing this passion as a hobby, creating floral ambiance at private events and celebrations of close friends and families, floral decor gradually became an alternative profession.
I am not sure how you define unique. Or how sought after one can claim to be. But what I like about the work I do is the fact that South Indian traditional aesthetics are adapted for both classic and contemporary tastes or needs. We have introduced new flowers and new colours to traditional garland weaving. Many local, traditional craftsmen have learnt to create designs and accessories to suit contemporary usage and styles. Their livelihood has become more sustainable and definitely more lucrative.
Clients seem to appreciate both the quality of our work and intrinsic value of our approach.
My travel for assignments has taken me across India - from the South to Bombay, Goa, Calcutta and Hyderabad. Projects in Thailand and a grand wedding in Bali have all been great experiences. Workshops are also reasons why we travel out of Coimbatore and Tamilnadu.
Far from it! Tight deadlines, venue availability at short notice, mounting client demands, venue regulations and our own need for detail and delivery often result in high pressure moments. Nevertheless, a job well done often compensates and satisfies.
The cliched new normal has cut down on a lot of grandeur, spend and frequency of typical events. It does seem to a welcome break in some ways. We have more time on our hands.
Events now are smaller in scale. Warmer in ambiance. More private. More personal. Definitely with less flamboyance, there’s so much less pressure. We have more time for perfection and detailing. I think I am enjoying this too.