Lekha Washington

Lekha Washington tells us about her brand Ajji, and what inspires her to keep a balance between her acting and design careers.

 

Product Designer and Sculptor
Product Designer and Sculptor

When in life did this passion for design engulf you?
I’ve been keen on creating things for as far back as I can remember. I would design my own toys and games at seven, make moulds out of flour and generally obsess about details.

An established actor, a product designer and an artist… how do you balance all these arts at the same time? Pick a favourite…
I love all three, and am only truly balanced when I have a little of everything in my life. That’s a tough act to juggle, sometimes I get it, and sometimes I don’t. No favourites, I love it all!

The profile on your webpage states that you are a product designer, sculptor, actor and teller of silly stories. Tell us one of those silly stories which resulted in a fantastic product design… 
Well, my very first chair, the Pink Sink, was made when I was trying to make the worst chair possible. You see, at a course at NID called Bad Design we were trying to make products that looked highly impractical — a chair that looks like it can’t hold you, something really uncomfortable was what I was trying to create.

Tell us about Ajji, who/what is the inspiration behind the brand and what do you plan to create and retail through Ajji? 
Ajji is what I used to call my grandmother, who was one of the most formidable, talented yet kind people I knew. I hope that I can create truly original design and ideas in the best possible way through my brand. Manufacture of one idea allowing for the prototyping of another idea is the model on which this company is built.

The sculpture Phases of the Moon debuted at the Kochi Muziris Biennale 2015… are you working on more such beautiful creations? Is there an exhibition lurking somewhere? 
Yes! We hope to have an art piece of a floating iron ball in a public space in Mumbai at the end of the month, then internationally by the end of the year. As far as exhibitions are concerned, this year, we are showing at Sakshi Salon end of June and then end of November at Sakshi Art Gallery, both in Mumbai.
On a lighter note…

The funniest moment in your design career? 
There was a light I once designed that we never manufactured because the first thing that someone mistook it for was a dildo!

The book you are currently reading? 
I’m reading Freakonomics right now, though I have to admit, post the internet, my reading has reduced drastically.

The one thing you would save if your house was on fire? 
My cats

If you would be any character in fiction… who would you be, and why?
If you had asked me when I was sixteen, I would have said Howard Roark from Ayn Rand. Now I’m having enough trouble just finding out how to be entirely myself.

If someone were to write your biography, what would the title be?
Surely you’re joking, Dr Washington! (Because they would have given me a honorary doctorate by then, one hopes!)