Internship: Cosmique Global, New Delhi

15 April 2015 by Roger Tredre

Texprint 2014 designer Monika Haeussler-Goeschl enjoyed a 10-week internship in New Delhi, India, with Cosmique Global. Here are the edited highlights from her diary:

Expect the unexpected! This thought sums up my experiences during a 10-week internship at Cosmique Global, New Delhi – an opportunity for which I am immensely grateful to the company.

Take the traffic in Delhi: expect cows or oxcarts in the streets; cars or trucks hurtling along the wrong lanes in the wrong direction; an elephant on the street in the dark – anything is possible. All new for a Western European on my first visit to India.

Hectic Delhi street scene

Cosmique Global was a great opportunity for an intern, not least because the company has so many craft techniques available under one roof: handknit and crochet, machine and hand embroidery, screen printing and hand printing, hand weaving, stitching. Even a small production area is in-house.

I shared an office with Saundarya and Kanika, two interns from Delhi who are just about to finish their last year at college (a year of interning). They welcomed me with open arms and minds and I gained two good friends. And the contact with Sandeep Manaktala, the boss, was excellent throughout the internship.

Monika with her boss Sandeep Manaktala

Week 1: Arrival at New Delhi. Warm welcome from my hosts, a couple in their sixties, who are very caring. I have a room with bathroom in their flat. First impression: it’s very cold in Delhi in January!

Everyday I am picked up by driver for the office and he also takes me back in the evening. A warm welcome at the office. I need a couple of tours around the building to remember where all the different workshops are.

My hosts show me around the area and help me with buying a phone card, showing me the way to the metro station, and so on. The area is very local, no tourists or supermarkets, just small local shops and markets. Only Indians apart from me. I also have a lesson in Hindi every evening – two new words a day. A fantastic chance to get to know a foreign culture.

Week 2: Things speed up in the office. New ideas are needed and there is time pressure to make them within two weeks.

I am asked to translate my designs into a bigger scale. I  develop some pieces by stitching or weaving into existing surfaces, while my colleagues work on macramé and weaving projects.

A project idea has been put forward for me, developing knitted wall art pieces with abstract patterns. Sonali, the head of the design department, is very good at recognising what each designer is good at and dividing up projects according to individual talents.

Think Out of the Box - a good mantra for my busy internship!

Week 3A week busy with work. The deadline for the Ambiente fair in Germany is next Monday. Everything needs to be finished, mounted, labelled, packed.

I develop seven knitted wall art pictures with abstract motifs. Plus several other pieces in different techniques like macramé and netting. I have absolute freedom to develop my ideas, but they need to fit into the concept and the style, the abilities of the workers, and the pricing model.

I am absolutely amazed by the skills of many of the workers, especially the embroiderers. They can do anything on their machines. A lot is done just by eye, no embroidery computer programmes, everything manual. They are all hard-working people, but always friendly and helpful.

On Saturday it is election day and everything is closed. I decide to visit Lodhi Gardens with its beautiful monuments. Moving around the city by metro is easy but sometimes very crowded.

Working with the knitting ladies

Week 4A stressful start to the week. Finishing touches, labelling, photography and packing of the collection for Ambiente.

Shortly after the Frankfurt fair there is an important fair in Noida, close to Delhi. More work is needed for this fair, at which Cosmique Global will have one showrooms and one temporary stand.

On Friday and Saturday me and another intern have to set up the showroom for the fair. It requires a lot of work, extending into Sunday, but we get the job done!

Week 5: The weather has changed, suddenly it’s hot.The pace of work is frentic, and we work late into the evening to ensure everything is completed.

On Saturday I visit the Noida fair – IHGF, the Indian Handicrafts & Gifts Fair. As a foreigner with a business card, I have free entry and a buyer’s pass, so I can visit all the stalls and showrooms. The fair is very big, impossible to see it in one day. I spend some hours strolling along and then help in the showroom. Several big buyers are there and it takes a long time to finalise their choice.

I also visit the stall of the second part of the CG family business, making handbags. It is run by one of Sandeep’s younger brothers.

Week 6A calmer week, things settle to normal. Some buyers are interested in a few of my wall art pieces, so I continue with it. I love to use unusual materials and use everything that I can find in the countless sacks full of material.Some buyers are expected to come for a visit this week, so it’s not great when I develop a cold. I spend three days (including the weekend) at home and in bed: a low point of the trip.

Women in their colourful saris at The Red Fort, Delhi

Week 7: The cold is still there when I start to work again on Monday. But after a weekend in bed I just need to get up and do something else. Everybody in design is working for an important buyer who is expected. So I start some cushions with tape ideas.

This week includes Holi, the festival of colours, a public holiday. On Thursday afternoon CG has a small Holi party with some colour spread on each other’s faces, food and sweets. On the day itself I am advised to stay at home because the colour often comes in water balls – and it hurts and you get coloured all over!

Week 8: I work on some new surface ideas that could be used for lamps, place mats or fabric wall covering. CG needs new products apart from cushions and throws. I am planning what can be done in the remaining time. I try to use the resources and skills they have and explore different ways of using them. For example, a different use of embroidery, chunky knitting, new crochet patterns.

Busy working on new ideas

Week 9I start the week with ideas for lampshades in different materials. I also try working with the embroidery machines and stitching machine. Everybody is astonished because here a designer does not do this.

Dyeing is done on many streets. You just prepare the fabric with instructions and a colour swatch and then a worker goes there and orders it. A couple of hours later you have it back.

Working with the stitching tailors

Week 10: I spend my last week developing some new knitting and crochet ideas for cushions and throws. I teach the hand knitting women new patterns and techniques and they enjoy learning something new.

On one of the last evenings Sonali goes shopping with me and I receive two Indian outfits and a kurta as a present. It is a generous gift which I appreciate very much. I wear one of the outfits on my last day in the office.

In the end I find it hard to say good-bye to the people. I will miss them: my fantastic intern colleagues, my hosts, Sandeep, and all the friendly colleagues at the office .

You need to be able to work very independently to make the most of an experience here. It’s a great opportunity that everything is under one roof. It’s also great to try everything and experiment freely.

Altogether, it has been a very special experience. I have loved the insights into another culture and I am grateful for the opportunity I have had and the people I have met. Thank you Cosmique Global and Texprint.

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