Reshmi Dey is an artist entrepreneur of glass, a rare bird in the industrial and commercial world of India.
Although the term throws up romantic images of chic salons, elegant hotel lobbies and international exhibitions, it has been a struggle for this entrepreneur to establish herself in a world which dictates success by the number of works of glass that she has actually been able to sell. A novice to the world of glass before I 999, it was an uphill effort for Reshmi to absorb herself in this esoteric world, learn the art and then become a commercial success.
The tears have borne fruit. The journey into the world of glass-making has proved to be rewarding. From doing basic tableware, Reshmi has evolved into a creator of hand-made glass installations and wall sculptures. She is constantly challenging her own creativity
Her intense work with the generations-old business families of Firozabad, the Glass Capital of India, exposed her to the ground realities of the commercial aspects of the profession as well as an understanding of the conveyor-belt processes, ingredients, mixes, stages of production and an undying respect for the relationship between the worker and the furnace.
A mastery of her experience in Firozabad prepaAred her for the next level – the need to polish and fine-tune her skills, the first determined step to become not only a business-person in the strictest sense, but also an artist in her own right An invitation from International Glass Centre, Dudley College, United Kingdom, was the logical extension of her India experience. Needless to say, Reshmi completed her course with flying colours.
The Glass Centre proved to be the Ideal venue of Reshmi’s quest for perfection. Colour, proportion, range and technique were taught and absorbed. The faculty comprised the foremost academics who instructed students in the theory and master craftsmen, both artists and industrial tycoons, who showed the students exactly how the job is done.
After learning and understanding the design and art of glass making, Reshmi travelled to Prague to Ajeto Glass, Novibore and had an enriching interaction with Petr Novotny, the famous Czech artist and the world-famous designer Bor ek Si’ pek. Thereafter, she got an opportunity to experience the Italian glass world with Pino Signoretto and Dino Rosin.
Today, Reshmi enjoys playing with glass and light, striking a balance between the transparency and reflection of glass. Each piece is conceptualized and visualized individually. Each is an individual commission, designed for a special place in a person’s home, a corporate building, or a hotel. The projects which have been executed include two niches in the spa, Radisson Hotel, Delhi; a lobby wall 36’116’, The Claridges, Suraj Kund; Unitech Grande, sales pavilion, Noida; residential projects in Pune, Delhi, Gurugram.
There was no doubt in her mind that India would be the venue to test and apply her knowledge, However, Reshmi’s mission is greater. She wants to introduce the “Studio Glass” concept in India which is more design-oriented and uses various special glass-making techniques to achieve the final piece. It is her fond hope that over time, India will become known as a prime centre of studio glass products, competing with the best of Central Europe, the crucible of the industry.
Deep down, however, Reshmi wants to evolve into a social entrepreneur. She has been working with the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India, the International Labour Organisation and various other Government organizations as an external consultant to help them develop a module for training young crafters and develop work clusters so that these trained workers have the opportunity to pursue a better livelihood.
But in order to realize her ambitions of “bringing glass to the peoples” and to make it a viable industry for the ever-increasing number of workers in glass, it is imperative that Reshmi has her own studio where she can bring out the tremendous qualities of the material to the maximum extent. The studio would provide the space to allow Reshmi and all those working within its walls to express their commitment to artistic education, creativity, innovation, and experimentation through glass, with important financial support from organizations which share a similar vision. It is her wish that by creating an environment with a singular focus on glass, access to resources, and an ever-expanding interest in glass, that the studio becomes the largest and most comprehensive educational center in India for artists working in glass.
Reshmi was born to glass, glass is the singular medium of her expression, and it is her hope that the democratization of glass will percolate through our society.
It will take some time and some more effort, but Reshmi will get there.