Studio Tour: Play Clan

by Rohini Wahi

Having established a reputation for bright, irreverent and folksy design products inspired by Indian storytelling, Delhi-based Play Clan was established in 2008 by Himanshu Dogra, a fashion design graduate from National Institute of Fashion Technology in New Delhi. 

From collaborations with prestigious names like Sir Paul Smith, Maharaja of Jodhpur, Gwalior Museum, Royal Bhutan and nine stand-alone stores across India, Play Clan has come a long way from the experimental platform it started out as.

Storytelling and playfulness form the foundation of all products, and the brand looks to India for inspiration — traditional colors and silhouettes, fusing graphics with craft to narrate visual novellas. Combining hand-drawn work with artisan workmanship and an illustrative style, collections are created across fashion, home, accessories and art, unraveling traditional folklore with a contemporary interpretation. 

Play Clan’s version of playing cards, for example, were inspired by the Mughal era of in India. The Mughal-e-Azam series features the four important rulers of the Mughal dynasty (Akbar, Shah Jahan, Jahangir and Humayun) and their respective queens and the “jacks” responsible for getting them into power. 

A stroll through their workspace which houses a team of 20 people, including artists, designers, copywriters and technicians, feels like walking across an idea bank. Decor choices include natural elements, which are the center of their inspiration. The design is open and simple, characterized by wood, stone and metal, which add an earthiness to the space. An abundance of potted plants and trees lends color and freshness. And ever so fitting to their brand ethos, the walls are adorned with a number of Play Clan artworks that have been intricately hand embroidered by local artisans. —Rohini

Photography courtesy of Play Clan

Play Clan Studio Visit on Design Sponge
The modern yet folksy Play Clan logo found adorning their stores in India.
Play Clan Studio Visit on Design Sponge
Himanshu and his team inside the light-filled and architecturally inspiring Play Clan studio in Delhi.
Play Clan Studio Visit on Design Sponge
Embroidered Play Clan artwork inspired by the mystical city of Benares hangs on the office walls.
Play Clan Studio Visit on Design Sponge
The studio courtyard has a zen-like quality layered with natural materials and industrial details.
Play Clan Studio Visit on Design Sponge
All artworks are hand drawn, then digitally illustrated in the studio.
Play Clan Studio Visit on Design Sponge
Mughal playing cards.
Play Clan Studio Visit on Design Sponge
The poetic stone Lotus pond in the center of the verandah.
Play Clan Studio Visit on Design Sponge
Hand-embroidered tales from India that find their way on to everyday items like t-shirts, mugs, bags and art.
Play Clan Studio Visit on Design Sponge
Unusual bentwood bookshelves in the studio.
Play Clan Studio Visit on Design Sponge
Shoot day in the studio for Play Clan.
Play Clan Studio Visit on Design Sponge
Another view of the studio resplendent in wood, glass and stone.
Play Clan Studio Visit on Design Sponge
Play Clan artwork representing the character and the colors of the Kutch region of India (Himanshu's dog Buddy posing in the foreground!).
Play Clan Studio Visit on Design Sponge
Etched Indian animal wooden coasters, found at Play Clan.

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