February 2, 2011

Memories of a Butterfly - Sreeti Mondol

Today’s designer, Sreeti Mondol was introduced to me by a dear friend from back home.  Sreeti works with beads - a medium that fascinates me too. Beaded curtains bring back some nostalgic memories from my own childhood. It reminds me of the bead curtains my mom stringed for our house using some raw looking wooden and ceramic beads. The tradition is carried on with much sophistication and elegant style today by this young chirpy girl-woman, Sreeti Mondol. I had to get in touch with the person who shares my fascination and who has been able to make her passion a way of life. 
Sreeti churns out beautiful twinkling bead creations from her warm and inviting home in Bangalore.  She has worked as a strategy planner with ad agencies in the past but now since last 4 years she designs bead curtains, full time. It's been a one man show for her, when it comes to running the business with only a few trained girls that assist her in stringing the beads. She says “What we love about bead curtains is that they not only allow for a play with color, light and texture, but also enable us to create natural connectors between spaces. They have the ability to create privacy without disconnecting an area from the rest of the house, office, bar or restaurant.” Her company 'Memories of a Butterfly' designs bead installations for residences, retail and hospitality spaces. They work hand in hand with architects and interior designers to bring about customized one of a kind, space specific creations. 
Here’s sharing an intriguing heart to heart rendezvous with a passion driven artist who has an immense zest for life. She talks about her struggles, about her company and how it came about. But before that, I’d like to suggest a read from the 'About' page of her website, where she has reasoned out the very name of her company - ‘Memories of a Butterfly'- it’s beautiful! 
This one is for you Sreeti :)

Ad agency to bead stringing, when and how did this transition come about?
Post accident in 2006, I broke my neck in a freak accident, got bed ridden for 8 months and had to quit advertising. As i healed, i explored different avenues. I’ve always been excited and fascinated with beads. As a child my creative mother has had a great influence on me.  My grandfather too, an ex-air force, taught me creativity along with electronics and plumbing :) If I think back now, am not sure what exactly was it that led to beading in particular but I guess its a mix of interiors, beads, color, fresh lease to life, good business opportunity and the need to be hands on creative.

How did you happen to make Bangalore home after London
After London, i interviewed with ad agencies in LondonDelhiBombay and Bangalore. Had gotten through almost everywhere but I chose Bangalore. It is cosmopolitan, cultured, has great weather and is comparatively cleaner to other Indian cities. More importantly it was home closer to home. I made the plunge 8yrs ago! I love its laid back pace and ability to take life as it comes. Suits me. 

What keeps you motivated and inspired?
Everyone who likes my work and tells me how much joy seeing bead curtains gives them, keeps me motivated. Remember how marbles made us feel when we were kids - like you are watching an endless galaxy with a glass ball (i miss marbles). Well a bead curtain has a similar effect, it is transparent yet translucent, ever changing, moving, interactive and glass beads are always so mesmerizing!
I have so many stories of slightly snooty clients, who order the curtains for "the look" of it in their houses or restaurants and are somewhat cold to the entire creative process. All they want is to get it done. But when the curtain is up, they are like kids in a playground – all the grown up sternness vanishes. The happy and satisfactory reaction of my clients is what keeps me going.

Bead curtains are not so common these days, how do you bridge the gap between the business side of designing?
I was with client servicing and strategy planning in advertising and even though i left, i loved what i did. Advertising gave me a very string ground to stand upon for being able to easily begin my own business. I find business in itself  creative and have always taken it slow and easy and let it guide me of its own course. I have not pushed and it has, until now worked. Designing has been fun. A THRILL. Everything we do is customized, so every order involves new ideas and new client needs to be fulfilled. It’s also interactive as clients are welcome & encouraged to be part of the sampling process. Its good fun!
What kind of beads do you typically use? Where do you source them from? Are they generic or made to order?
We use colored glass beads, glass crystals, acrylic (sometimes), topaz (SHELL), wood, colored pebbles, pearls & metal to name a few. We get beads from India and import some from elsewhere too. My suppliers also produce beads specific to our needs especially colors in glass or the varnish on bone beads etc.  
Have you experimented with eco-friendly materials yet?
This is the first time someone has asked me this and I’m glad. Have i experimented before – yes! I’ve used eggshells, nuts, seeds, stone, wood etc. Shells i use even now. But the unfortunate truth is that the demand right now is for 'other' things like Glass.  I try not to use acrylic as far as possible and i hope the "green" bug hits my clients soon so that i can use even more eco friendly materials.

What do you do when you are not stringing beads?
I live life finally. Mine is fortunately not a 9-9 job. I read a book when i please, watch a movie, have friends and family over, take off for Goa, cook up something interesting on impulse. I do more of what i have always "wanted to" but never had enough time. Luckily I do a job that i love and am challenged by, not obligated by!

I guess not many people get to say that these days! Thank you for your time and patience Sreeti, your work is truly inspiring and so is your zeal for life and resilience! We wish you the very best for all your future endeavors!

If these beautifully colored installations resonate with your creative aspirations for your room/space, do get in touch with

Sreeti Mondol, Memories of a Butterfly

+91 9845508083sreeti@gmail.com
Studio (by appointment): Langford Road, Bangalore, INDIA

All images used here are provided by Sreeti Mondol.

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