Monday, February 6, 2017

Reena Verghese - Designer, Creator, Poet and Seeker

Somehow, when you meet Reena you can sense that she is a creative person. Perhaps in the way she carries herself, the way she dresses, the general air around her or her culinary creations – something gives her away. Reena has taught, designed, modelled, baked (s), makes jewellery, writes poetry and is a keen spiritual seeker. I was intrigued by her work (she owns a soft furnishings outfit 'Inaspace Designs’, and specializes in furnishing homes) and her constant need to create something, to reinvent herself. So I asked her the other day if she would allow me to interview her. She agreed.

Reena and I at Coffee with Me
Q. What is it about your current profession as a soft furnishings expert that you like doing?
A. Working with fabric.

Q. When did you discover that you had a passion for fabric?
A. Always. In school. Maybe when I was in the 9th or 10th class I had a needlework class. We were given a long strip of cloth and asked to make 50 embroidery stitches​. I made it into a booklet which was different from what the others did. I was thrilled with my work. I was also sewing my own clothes. I did that until college. So it was like coming back home when I started my soft furnishings outfit ‘Inaspace Designs’ a decade ago.

Q. How come you did not make soft furnishings and fabric a profession earlier?
A. College was some kind of a turning point because I chose commerce. Since I was good at maths I decided that it was a better option perhaps. I worked as an insurance agent during college. I used to deal with financial products like Post Office savings and other financial instruments. I also used to teach little kids - Hindi, Maths. Was some kind of a maths expert. Then I joined my first job at NIIT as a teacher.

Q. But you continued your creative forays?
A. After my marriage I worked with my father in law in his C&F agency. Then after that closed I worked at a Hotel Management ​college where I taught computers. Throughout I continued sewing, painting, made glass paint​ed trays and coasters​. My Dad and my husband (Ashok, a fine wit and great company) encouraged me to pursue my creative urges so I am lucky that way. I even held an exhibition of kurtas. Oh, I did some technical writing too.

Q. So when did you finally settle down to this line?
A. Sometime during all this I discovered my passion. The curtains business. I did one friends house in Bangalore, put ​up curtains for him. Someone saw it and then I got another ​order.

Q. What exactly do you do?
A. ​Everything to do with Soft furnishings. Like Curtains. ​Bed Linen. Quilt​s. Upholstery. Head boards. Embroidered blinds and tiebacks are another favourite of mine. ​

Fabric blinds with embroidery Inaspace Designs
Q. What’s your USP?
A. I understand what a client wants and back my ability to deliver ​with​in their budget.
Among my products embroidered blinds and tiebacks are my favourite. ​I love enhancing the ambiance of a space.
Q. What do you find challenging about the job? What drives you?
A. The challenge of creating within the boundaries of a budget. Shopping with other people’s money is something I love. I love being in any fabric store, clothes store. Love putting things together.

Q. If you had a dream project what would it be?
A. A villa - a beach side villa with large windows and the freedom​ to play with colors.

Q. What are your favorite colors?
A. Orange. Pink.

Q. Where do you think people are challenged in this line?
A. I find that a lot of people want to create better spaces but don't have the time, ideas or exposure. Which is where they seek my help. ​

Q. How much does it cost ball park to soft furnish a house?
A. A 3 bedroom flat would cost ​about 1 to 1​.5​ lakh​s​. And just embroidered tie backs would start at 1000 bucks each and go all the way up to 15-20000.

Q. How do you approach your work?
A. I check out the house. The decor of the home.​ I check the light in the area. The greenery, if there is any. The people. If I ​meet them and spend some time with​ them I know what they want.

Q. Will you put your foot down if the client wants something that contradicts your vision?
A. Not really. It's their house after all. I show them the possibilities and leave it at that.

Q. You also design junk jewellery?
A. I have been designing junk jewellery for a couple of years now. I design ear rings, bracelets and chains. I source raw material like semi precious stones and beads, oxidized silver beads, charms. I put them together at my workshop at home. Right now friends and family buy this stuff from me. A limited market.

Here are some of her creations
Q. Shall we talk about your writing process?
A. I normally write after meditating. All my poems are offered to my ​Guru. One day I felt like expressing myself and I sat down and wrote. Over a year I wrote 25 poems. I published them as a book.
Soon ​after​ I meditate the words just flow. Then I tweak it a little. I feel like something opens out​. I don't feel like I own it. I use it to communicate to my guru. When I can’t reach out to him this is what I do.
When it flows as I write it​ down, its exactly what I feel. It's very satisfying.

Q. How has been your spiritual journey?
A. The seven years of ​metaphysics that I did, triggered the metamorphosis. Kindled some thought. I started looking within. ​Finding and ​joining my ​Guru happened to me later - maybe I was ready. Now I feel there is a purpose, a goal. Self ​R​ealisation.

Q. What does it mean to you and how would it change life for you?
A. It means that we realise who we ​truly are. The path is meditation.

The change would be that we'd be extremely equipoised. We'd maintain a healthy dispassionate view about pain and pleasure. Experience a permanent sense of calm and stillness.

Q. When do you think the process begins for most people?
A. ​Usually when they hit rock bottom and they start looking for solutions.

Q. What else do you do in your spare time?
A. I enjoy gardening. I love my succulents. I enjoy listening to music. All dance numbers. Movies. Thrillers. Murder mysteries. Meeting people. Love company. Love dogs. Baking all kinds of cakes, pies.

So ended an interesting session with Reena. One of the things that really impressed me about her was the distance she had from her poems, and the openness with which she shared them. It's a rare quality. The same openness and earnestness goes into her work at soft furnishings (or anything else). Of course, Reena is always good to share a laugh and a conversation. Here's wishing you good luck Reena and may you find that state of self realisation sooner than. To contact Inaspace designs call 9866155758.

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