By Sagarika Sundaram
The jamakhan is a bold horizontally striped rug that typically comes in eye-watering colour combinations – maroon, parrot green, electric blue, orange, neon yellow, white – all in one rug. A jamakhan (or jamakkalam as I grew up calling it) is thrown open with a shake to serve visitors a clean surface to sit or even nap on, say after an early lunch. Thin and supple, it can be folded up quickly and it’s tight weave structure makes it compact to store away.
The decision to reinterpret the jamakkalam for Tiipoi’s first textile collection came naturally, given its intimate relationship with the southern Indian home. A ubiquitous object, Jamakkalams have been used as floor-coverings (and sometimes mattress protectors!) at home and at large public gatherings like marriages, music concerts and work-spaces. It wasn’t uncommon for the weavers to embroider in large letters, the name of the family/owner at the very top of the rug.
Our first decision was to strip back the rug’s traditional colours and compose a master Tiipoi colour palette. Indigo, ivory and chalky brights derived from small-town Indian streets were a nod to the vibrant jamakkalam’s place in daily life. We designed a blue rug to fit a dark room, and a second pink and yellow rug to work in a brighter, lighter room.
The jamakkalam’s close weave makes it supple and pliant. But it can sometimes feel thin and coarse under bare foot. We decided to make our rug thicker than the original, and softer. Physical samples sent over by weavers in Bhavani helped us arrive at a lightweight and comforting texture.
A simplified stripe introduced a contemporary geometry to the Tiipoi home. Using a finger-manipulation technique typically used for patterning the jamakkalam, we employed short stripes, and worked with line-thickness and composition to create a pleasing, almost musical visual rhythm.
We derived compositions for pink and yellow cushions from the rugs. The blue cushions were designed with a different line-treatment to add an element of interest to the collection.
Designed by Sagarika Sundaram
Sagarika Sundaram is a rug and textile designer for commercial and private collections. Sagarika’s first two collections for Floor_Story and Tiipoi launched at the London Design Festival in 2015. The rug collection for Tiipoi has been featured in publications such as Monocle, The Independent on Sunday, Elle Decoration UK and Architectural Digest India and is stocked at Heal’s and Twentytwentyone in London. She was trained in graphic design at the National Institute of Design in India and the Maryland Institute College of Art in the US. She has worked as a strategist and user experience designer at Wolff Olins in London and Dubai for news organisations, museums, telecom and technology clients in the US, Europe and Asia. She has held design positions at IDEO, frog design and Pentagram. She is currently working on a new collection of rugs.