If you’re a creative individual, there’s a temptation to imagine other creatives relaxing on Eames chairs in spacious studios — while you work late into the night at your kitchen table. Of course, this perception is far from reality. In this week’s installment of Conversations with Designers, Ipshita Chatterjee of Minor Edition keeps it real with talk of chaos, balance, and how she turns roadblocks into inspiration.
Walk me through your creative process — I guess you could call this the “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” question. Do you have a finished product in mind from the start, and then execute a series of steps to achieve this? Or do the ideas evolve and take life as you go through the creative process?
The entire design process evolves very slowly. I have a sketchpad (and lots of papers everywhere) where I sketch designs, as and when I’m inspired. They are usually quite messy with a thousand tiny ideas scribbled alongside. When I sit down to actually create a collection, it starts with a theme. I re-visit those sketches with the eye of a critique, and source the fabric samples in various colours. I sew a dummy of the dresses and try them on my (now five year old) daughter. Her feedback is very important to me. The final designs come to life in due course.
At one time or another, all creatives experience that “hitting a brick wall” feeling, where the ideas just stop. How do you deal with creative slumps and roadblocks?
I love creative slumps and roadblocks as long as there is no next minute deadline. They are a very good opportunity to take a break, whether it is just a long walk or a day off, it allows me to think things over and return recharged. Last week, I spent one day crocheting a scarf, tidying up and meeting a friend for coffee. This cleared my head and helped me with a few decisions the next day.
Let’s talk trends. How do trends impact your design experience?
Trends did not impact much in the current collection. They were inspired from my own childhood and the dresses my mum made for me. Minor Edition was born out of the need to provide something unique and different in terms of colour and design.
Minor Edition’s headquarters are your kitchen table and your studio/your daughter’s playroom. How do you maintain a sense of balance?
Life is a bit chaotic and I wonder if there is a sense of balance. In theory I am very organised and compartmentalised. In reality, I am in one hand, answering the phone while shoving the toys in one corner with my other hand, completely for health and safety reasons. I do make sure that I clean the kitchen the night before and put away breakfast bowls before the school drop off. My studio doubles up as a playroom and it works quite well. Luckily, I have managed to convince my daughter not to touch them. She has her own little stash of pink and dotty fabrics to play with, if I work when she’s around. Working late at night is a regular thing for me. Glad I love what I do.
What does collaboration look like for Minor Edition? What path does the fabric take on its journey to become a finished garment, and how many people are involved?
Minor Edition collaborates with two other ladies who are based overseas. They are mums of little girls themselves and share my passion of pretty dresses for little girls. These two lovely ladies run their own companies employing a few people and in their own workshop. They are the people behind the scene who translate my design into pretty little dresses.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to fellow creatives?
Enjoy what you do and work really hard.