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Monday, July 23, 2018

Reimagining Tools

With his unique steampunk designs,Abhishek Basak has carved an identity for himself.

Published: December 11, 2013 5:50:18 am

Vidya Prabhu

Three years ago,Abhishek Basak,an alumnus of National Institute of Fashion and Technology (NIFT),Hyderabad,took his passion for tinkering with tools and recycling machine parts a step ahead when he fashioned a neckpiece using parts from old,non-functional watches that belonged to his parents. “I combined gears and displays with silver and brass wires and Swaroski crystals to make a necklace that I gifted to a friend. The word spread about how I had erased the line between tools and decoration,” he says.

Today,Basak continues to work with old machine parts,particularly those of watches,and thus enjoys the distinction of being an ambassador for steampunk fashion in the country. The only other notable Indian name in the field is designer Abhishek Datta,who presented a steampunk collection at Lakme Fashion Week in 2012. Essentially a style advocating the use of machine parts to create a setting that is a throwback to the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century,steampunk fashion has always had a niche audience. But that didn’t stop Basak from trying his hand at it. It was the overwhelming response to the neckpiece that made him pursue steampunk. “I didn’t go looking for steampunk; it found me,” emphasises Basak,who set up his accessory label Absynthe Design in 2010. Apart from neckpieces,earrings,bracelets,rings and cufflinks too have been added to his repertoire. “Jewellery is a fluid thing,but I want to infuse a certain masculinity into it by featuring machine parts. The resulting items beautifully juxtapose the mechanical elements with the gemstones/ crystals,” he says.

While steampunk has won him many fans,it’s the offer of customisation that has been hard to resist,insists the 36-year-old. “I can steampunk any gadget — be it a Nintendo Gameboy or a pen drive — by building it a cover using machine parts. Besides,I can weave in a person’s name or date of significance,making it an ideal gift,” says Basak. For instance,while working on the Gameboy,crafting the wooden shell took him three attempts — each piece was individually assembled on it. “There are clock and watch parts of various kinds,starting from little numerals to large clock gears. Also,brass strips were finely made and finished to create the borders,” says Basak. He recently quit his job with an MNC’s product design department to work full-time on his label.

Working from home,Delhi-based Basak takes orders on his label’s Facebook page and through the e-commerce website While he has also started designing more mainstream jewellery,steampunk continues to be his mainstay. “Next on my list is making steampunk lamps and lighting installations. I will launch a line of steampunk stationery items such as pens and notepads by early next year,” he says.

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