Design reboot

In a united call to combat the contagion, a flurry of design entities are rallying to pour in functional, aesthetic support, writes Shilpi Madan


From fashion designers Shantanu and Nikhil stylishly sporting masks in a ‘masked’ post on Insta, to Hollywood celebs donning skull bandanas and Batman masks while shopping for groceries, to local celebs slipping on Hermes scarves as a home-mask, the ideas are bubbling and bouncing in the ‘mask-querade’ in Covid-19 climes. It does help in establishing a safeguard against the pandemic. Now, flowing in are asymmetrical patterns, khadi, colourful and reusable renditions in a melee: a collective uprise to meet the demands of the present, rather unconventional situation.

“As long as people need masks they will be produced and distributed,” says fashion designer Anita Dongre as her team powers the production of cloth masks for distribution to contribute further in the fight against Covid-19. After receiving necessary permissions from the government authorities, the production of these reusable masks has begun in two of the five rural village centres that were initiated in collaboration with the Maharashtra state government four years back, starting with Charoti. Through these centres, the Anita Dongre Foundation trains women to make garments and has set up a production facility close to their homes to bring gainful employment to them, using the multitude of materials used for making clothes from the house of Dongre. These centres have had voluntary participation of about 24 women for making close to 7,000 reusable, washable and sustainable masks each week for distribution to NGOs, villagers, individuals, and hospitals. The workers are maintaining strict social distancing and hygiene protocols.

Masks by Limerick

It is an ingenious solution to an equally unconventional situation that envelops the world today. Making prudent use of the leftover fabric in their manufacturing units and production studios, designer hands have risen to the fore shaping adjustable saviours using khadi, ikat, cotton... Likewise, fashion designer Ritu Kumar and her team are powering the production of over 50,000 non-surgical masks to meet the needs of the prevailing situation as wearing masks becomes the new normal. Designers Pallavi Mohan and Manish Tripathi are among the others dedicating their effort and time into the making of the much needed oral covers.

Nanki Papneja, founder of fashion portal, has leveraged her textile savoir-faire to bring out designer face masks for maximum protection when stepping outdoors. “These are testing times and since we already manufacture fabrics that are used in healthcare products like surgical masks, diapers...we decided to rise to the occasion,” she says. “Arranging and donating masks is very much the need of the hour. We have pledged to donate 3,000 surgical masks to frontline healthcare workers at Kasturba Hospital, Mumbai. Each designer face mask is constructed using multiple layers of germ-resistant filters that provide protection from over 90% germs and microbes. “The efficacy of the masks has been verified through a Bacteria Filtration Efficiency Test as per international standards. Designed for maximum convenience, the reusable masks can be easily treated with a disinfectant wash in cold water after being worn thrice,” explains Nanki. Of course, the 27 variants available online include 12 embroidered and 15 printed options that make for a stylish cover especially now when wearing a face mask has become the new normal for at least the next few years. The world has clearly changed.

Good to know

Vistaprint India, an e-commerce platform for custom printing services, has unveiled Covid-19 templates and face masks online. The designs of the printed face mask templates showcase vital health and safety information. Says Bharath Sastry, CEO of Vistaprint India, “These include compelling illustrations and messages that are very easy to customise like how to observe preventive measures like social distancing, washing hands thoroughly... We believe that this initiative will help further in people staying safe and coming out of this challenging period unscathed.”

HipCouch, an interior design major, launched prototypes for the walk-in booths for coronavirus tests. The Covid-19 kiosks allow contactless safe collection of samples from an acrylic, aluminium and particle board, where a doctor/technician can put hands through the two holes in the façade using arm-length gloves and safely collect samples under five minutes. Says Pankaj Poddar, the co-founder of HipCouch, “Apart from the speed of sample collection, these booths are also being used by the hospitals to provide more PPEs to healthcare workers who are working in the field and have higher direct exposure.”