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What does it take to juggle a design business with artistic practice?

The designer duo behind Kalki Ceramics has license to kiln as they push the limit of what they create.

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By Yashna Balwanth | August 10, 2023 | Design

Always feeling compelled to create, Nikhil Tricam and Nindya Bucktowar view art and design as the ultimate act of freedom. Their manipulation of new materials exercises their design muscles to push the limits of what they can create. While working as architects, they continued their artistic practices in their free time, and Kalki Ceramics was born.

Kalki, a name that the practice shares with their beloved dog, holds great power in its Hindu origins. The business combined Nindya’s knowledge of ceramics and Nikhil’s experience in high-end residential architecture and hospitality.

The growth and positive reception Kalki Ceramics received gave them the confidence to pursue their creative endeavours full-time, leading to the establishment of Studio Kalki, the integrated design and fabrication practice they run alongside Kalki Ceramics.

Wall Sconces carefully designed and fabricated by Nindya Bucktowar. Image: Karl Rogers

You both have involvement in a variety of artistic businesses. How do you juggle these different responsibilities?

Nikhil – The various artistic, design and manufacturing outlets support one another, each serving to engage our minds in different ways by posing new challenges and introducing new opportunities. My work as a designer is an extension of the act of liberation, serving to create meaningful experiences.

Nindya – The possibility to create a rich experience through art and design has always been exciting for me. The most empowering take from my studies is that design is universal. The idea is to be known as someone who makes beautiful pieces for this world in whatever form this transcends into. Ultimately, I see myself as a multidisciplinary designer and artist.

All in the details: These wall sconces are intricately carved with tiny indents to reflect a subtle and beautiful feature. Image: Karl Rogers

The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) Future Heirlooms project is an exhibition showcasing seven different local designers creating an object or small piece of furniture to encapsulate sustainability – how did this come about?

Nikhil – We were contacted by Always Welcome, partners and facilitators of the Future Heirlooms project. Their proposal seemed like the perfect opportunity to amalgamate Kalki Ceramics with American Red Oak, reinterpreting the design to create something new.

The surface pattern was designed to mimic the boomslang scales, with the vertical layering of alternating tiles representing coils. The celebration of these materials coming together, where the textured rawness of the red oak contrasted against the smooth, glossy glaze, contributed to a heightened experience and awareness of both.

The Boomslang server is made from carbon-negative American Oak and features glazed ceramic tiles manufactured in-house. Image: Karl Rogers.

What have been the challenges and rewards of being an artistic and independent designer?

Nikhil – While being artistic, it is important to still focus on the smaller administrative details as with any business. People underestimate the coordination required to get things done well, however, it is a necessary part of any successful project. The rewards are many, but one, in particular, is our involvement in the AHEC Future Heirlooms project and winning the Nando’s Hot Young Designer award. It feels like a recognition of the work done, and we only see growth from hereon. What are your projected plans for the not-sodistant future?

We have some amazing projects lined up, with a few incredible interiors already on site, as well as the official launch of Studio Kalki with our range of steel and ceramic pieces and great new collaborations on the horizon. We will also be designing and building an exciting new house in semi-rural Mauritius, showcasing our design philosophy for all to see.