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Stay at Home Series

11th May 2020

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In our next Stay at Home Series, we are challenged to use this time to re-evaluate how we interact with each other and the planet. Kam Ce Kam is a sustainable furniture and interiors brand that rose to wide acclaim during its launch over London Design Festival 2019. Creative Director & Designer, Jehanara Knowles talks to us about the gift of time and the benefits of a slower pace of life to reconnect with your home and revise your relationship with humanity and the environment.

How have you redesigned your workspace to boost productivity?

It has been so much fun reconfiguring spaces and turning them into a home-office or a space for yoga and meditation. We are lucky to have an extremely bright conservatory which has now been transformed into my home office. Natural light is really important to me and having the connection to the outdoor space keeps me really productive! I have also put little decorative things in the space that remind me of Kam Ce Kam and the creative process.

What do you enjoy the most about spending all this time at home?

My favourite part about being home has been rediscovering the things about my own home space that I have never fully got to enjoy. I have also been really enjoying watching my garden bloom! In general, being able to live life at a slower pace has been good for a lot of things, still staying busy but enjoying more time to sit in a corner and sketch or go through old books and ideas.

How are you staying inspired during this period?

It has been an incredible opportunity for designing as we have been given the gift of time! I am finding a lot of inspiration from researching historical era’s in India and the design that was a product of it. I have also managed to find interesting books from my university days, which have been sitting on my bookshelves for years. I have been looking at a lot of architectural symbolism and motifs in India, which we can hopefully incorporate in our next collection.

A tip would be to start an interesting project or initiative to really get stuck into. I’m working on a new collection and I am collaborating with a few people, one of them being my Dad. It’s a great way to keep both of us busy and in touch with each other at the same time. We are also hosting an auction to raise funds for our craftspeople which has been really fun to set up and I can’t wait to see what we manage to raise!

Please can you share your tips for redesigning your home environment to suit living in it 24/7?

I think it’s important to play with the space you have and see what works best for you. Moving things around has allowed me to declutter and get a better sense of the room. Change is always good, rather than purchasing things for the short-term, see how you can recreate your space for the future. It is also really important to separate work and play spaces. If you are taking a break in the day to exercise or have lunch, move around in your home. If you can, go into another room, outdoors for some fresh air or simply change your view.

As lockdown continues it becomes harder for some to see the end. How are you keeping positive during this time?

There are definitely some very positive things that have come from this time. We have been able to take time to re-evaluate our decisions. As a business, we can think about what we really want to represent and think of how we can enhance our businesses to better society. I have also been staying busy! With our production put on hold, we felt a bit stuck on how to move forward but we still managed to launch two products: a single caned version of Mera (which we managed to get samples of just before the lockdown) and Tarazu a collaboration with Atelier Aveus. Without being able to photograph the physical sample, Atelier Aveus came up with the brilliant idea of launching it digitally through a 3D render.

What do you hope we will learn from this period?

I have been spending a lot of time thinking about how our mindsets will change our buying habits. For a while we have been seeing a big move towards people making mindful and sustainable purchases. I hope this time will give people the extra push to be more conscious about the way they shop. 

I think one of the biggest things that this time has taught us is that we need to rethink the way we all interact with each other and our planet. Reading essays and the thoughts of great architects and thinkers can help us come up with these solutions.

What have you been reading that helps us re-evaluate how we interact with each other and the planet?

I have rediscovered ‘A Place in the Shade: The New Landscape and Other Essays’ by Indian architect Charles Correa, which I read when I was writing my dissertation. It is so relevant to what we are dealing with right now with social distancing, and the need to improve the environment for the less fortunate in society. The book studies the way that urban areas are developed in India and the issues that arise from it. ‘Cities are centres of hope’ and it is crucial to carefully plan these integral parts of society. It is our duty to humanity to make sure we are creating safe spaces for society as a whole. Charles Correa looks at introducing simple elements to over-populated slums, green space and modular systems to future proof spaces that house the workforce of cities in India.

Read more about Kam Ce Kam’s rise to design acclaim in our feature in DN 28 Magazine here.