We'd seen Bholu's beautiful products and textiles before, however it wasn't until we saw Bholu's range of wallpaper with Porter's Paints that we became aware of the positive and life changing work that was happening in the Indian slums thanks to Bholu. Company director, Jodie Fried, tells us more about her work with Bholu and Porter's Paints below the jump.
Was it easy to convince Porter's Paints to work with your principles?
Porter's Paints were very quick to agree to my suggestion of donating part proceeds directly back to the schools we are building in India. I believe that this reflects how passionate they are about supporting their designers and what they stand for as well.
How important was it to work with a company the held similar beliefs to yours?
It was very important to me that I kept the connection with my principles of community, Fair Trade and support to the children and women in India. Although this was not being directly made from them the part proceeds, which go back to continuing to build the schools will directly have effect on their lives.
It acknowledges where the designs came from and also how it evolved. All the designs from the Bholu Collection of wallpapers are inspired by the drawings of children in underprivileged communities in India where I head into slum areas armed with clean drinking water, food and crayons to give the children to make the most of their childhood instead of working. It is here, where Bholu designs are born and I wanted to keep this alive. Because the women weren't doing the embroidery for this product, it was important that financial recognition went back to the children's schools and their future.
I was also impressed by the commitment to the environment which Porter's Paints stand by with their paints and that many of the VOC levels (Volatile Organic Compound) in their paints fall into the zero VOC paint category or below the Australian target level.
Did your designs translate easily into wallpaper or did you have to rethink the way you work?
When I first was presented with the idea of developing a Bholu range of wallpaper, I was very excited, but then quickly realised, designing wallpaper is a whole other skill!! I have a new found respect for textile and pattern designers!
I was lucky enough to experiment with the paint and printing technicians at Porter's Paints to come up with ways of presenting the prints, which would express texture, by means of using the paint as this illusion. We found that they designs were best communicated if the background was printed first, as opposed to the design. Because when you think of Bholu textures, it is the background colour which makes the line pop.
It was a bold move to bring back the 'frieze' - how do you think people will go with it?
Yes, the idea of designing a "border" gave me flashbacks to the 80's of toy soldiers or terrible floral arrangements running around the room. But with the elephants, it really was such a strong image for me, it just had to be done.
Particularly, as in all of our Bholu schools in India, we paint red elephants in a trail around the walls and also the outside, in order to recognize it is our school. It has become quite an icon for us now, that it seemed the only way to do the elephants.
Do you have a favourite design?
I actually love them all, as they all lend themselves to so many different applications, from nurseries, to commercial and residential interiors, on large and small scales.
Personally I have a soft spot for Mavis Monkey and her friends, I think if I were 5 again, I would be pretty happy being in a room covered in of forest monkeys and I would never feel lonely again!
Thanks so much for your time Jodie!