How Shreenie Vasan is setting Tana Bana, the design firm he co-founded, firmly on the global market for surface design patterns, designed in his hometown of Salem, the fifth largest populous state in Tamil Nadu.

“My father, grandfather, and his ancestors were all contract weavers in Salem,” began Shreenie Vasan, co-founder and CEO of Tana Bana, a design agency in Morristown, NJ with a full design studio in Salem. “They depended on the master weavers for business, and had accepted their hand-to-mouth existence as something normal—sometimes, it never made it to the mouth even.”

The young Srinivas Jayapal completed high school and applied to many colleges. One of them, a quite famous one at that, demanded fifteen thousand rupees as a donation. “We didn’t earn that sum in a month, and my father wouldn’t hear of it,” he recalls, “when I found out the Indian Institute of Handloom Technology right in our backyard, and what’s more, they paid a scholarship to fund my education.”

The freshman was exposed to the world of handloom, jacquards, weaves, print, and many other art forms of textile design. “Apart from the fact that all faculty spoke in Hindi, my choice wasn’t…


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