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Design: Photo

By Christine Pemberton

Designers are influenced by all manner of things. For the delightful Delhi-based duo of Sarah Fotheringham and Maninder Singh, it is, quite simply, their travels that inspire them. They travel, they note, they observe, they sketch, they like, they enjoy. And then they head home to Delhi, and produce a collection a year, based on a joyful interpretation of their voyages of discovery.
Date Published: 29th March 2016

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Sarah and Maninder (go on, you can work out their company’s name from their names…Sa + Fo + Ma + Si) bring to their travel-inspired designs not simply their youth, but also Sarah’s extraordinary eye for pattern and colour, combined with Maninder’s fashion and production expertise.
In their own words: “Each collection is inspired by a different travel story, so our process starts with organising all the ideas we’ve gathered from that journey.”

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The two contrasting and fascinating sides to Japan, for example, appealed hugely to Sarah and Maninder. On the one hand, there is the quiet, contemplative, traditional side, which contrasts crazily with the unexpectedly colourful, eccentric and – yes - quite crazy flip-side. Which is why there’s a zen garden cushion alongside a dotty one.

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“We’ll look through all our notes, photos, sketches, research some more, jot down ideas and begin to form patterns - patterns of ideas that interest us, and actual pattern designs.” Pattern and colours, re-imagining the scenes they saw while travelling. This is the way they share their experiences.

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Here, one of their very popular prints “Estuary Walk” is being produced. The genesis of this collection is every bit as delightful as the happy mood of the prints. Called the “Salcombe” collection, it is inspired by years of happy family holidays in Salcombe, Devon, on the south west coast of England, a tradition started over 50 years ago by Sarah’s late grandparents.

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Screen printing, great attention to detail, meticulous research into the exact colour needed, are all part of the production process, which is Maninder’s forté. From pen and ink sketches to digital imagery, various techniques are used to arrive at the final design.

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Back to Japan, to the (in) famous Shibuya crossing in Tokyo. People watching inspires both Sarah and Maninder, and this cushion is their own little homage to Tokyo.

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Some trimmings are outsourced. Such as pompoms. Like these glorious in-your-face bright pink pompoms, made by fabulously stylish Haryanvi village divas, like this lady.

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From an Indian village to the rest of the world, these pompoms sure have travelled. Safomasi exports and sells the world over, their products being found in some of Europe’s most stylish shops such as Heal’s and Au Bon Marché.

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These yards of fabric, with their very English sailing regatta scenes, will later be hand-quilted into bedding by local Indian artisans, or stitched by hand by Safomasi’s own tailors.

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Sarah and Maninder (you figured out the Sa+ Fo and Ma + Si, right?) are, quite simply, inspired by their world. “We’ll keep exploring until we have a cohesive set of designs that complement each other and make a collection that reflects our experiences and impressions of that place.”





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