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Utharaa L. Zacharias and Palaash Chaudhary met in New Delhi when they were studying product design at the National Institute of Fashion Technology. “We were rarely in the same circles, but at a desperate moment with a term paper, Palaash approached me for help, and we spent days in the library writing the paper. Since I only agreed to help as a trade-off for assistance with a shop project, we went on to work together more. Somewhere along the way we made a habit of it.”

The couple started soft-geometry in 2018, focusing on what it meant to be craftspeople in today’s world and learning to weave cane in a traditional six-step weave to create a lattice—a long beloved art in the Kochi area where Utharaa is from. “The experience of learning the craft ourselves and designing products around it that we continue to make ourselves was special in every way,” she says. “It grounded our present and future in the poetry of hand-making.” Today Ut and Palaash split their time between Kochi and the Bay Area, after having gone to grad school at SCAD in Savannah and getting their first jobs in the Bay Area.

Elio came from the couple’s exploration of light. “In 2020, perhaps in the midst of everything looking quite bleak and dark, we were discussing the softness of light.” They snapped photos of light glimmering on water, light passing through skin, light on dusty panes. “We were drawn to subtle variations that happened when light interacted with uneven transparencies and set out to try and mimic those qualities using liquid resin.”

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Lamps are handmade and made to order in colors of aloe or lychee with white or brass hardware. Photo by Yanic Friedman

Ut says much of soft-geometry’s days start with exploring questions like these before moving on to logistical things like closing orders, packing, and shopping. “In the afternoons we make things, whatever is on order or commission. If we have nothing, we work on new things, sketch, and prototype. We end with a long walk every day, and occasionally dance with the lights out if we have reasons to celebrate.”

 

A version of this article originally appeared in Sixtysix Issue 06 with the headline “soft-geometry: Lighting Designers, Kochi, India.” Subscribe today.