Eponymous design studio Mansi Shah prides itself on creating signature prints and products. Each bright and bold print made in the Chinatown space is conceived by Shah in NYC, though she taps an “informal” team of freelancers and friends to work as consultants for the studio.
Shah studied at CalArts‘ graphic design program, where she says she was always encouraged to experiment. “We were constantly pushed to develop our own personal aesthetic. I’ve always loved to draw so I intuitively focused onto making hand-drawn patterns.” Now—along with her own work—Shah plans to create custom prints for fashion designers, furniture-makers and even wallpaper companies.
The idea of play and alchemy is intrinsic in my process and creating a print is instinctive, seeking inspiration from movement and magic.
Her just-released debut collection of 100% silk scarves blend tradition with innovation; with some prints drawing on retro colorways and brushstroke-like lines, but all resulting in strikingly eye-catching pieces. Shah tells CH, “The collection is driven by line, form, color, volume, texture and composition. I was inspired by Cy Twombly’s scribbles, Josef Albers’ color theory and visual music artists like Mary Ellen Bute, Walter Ruttmann, Norman McLaren, and James and John Whitney. The idea of play and alchemy is intrinsic in my process and creating a print is instinctive, seeking inspiration from movement and magic.”
While the conception and design of each print takes plenty of time and hard work, Shah says that finding a manufacturer that she could rely on was especially difficult, “It was a long process to find a trustworthy manufacturer for the scarves. Having them woven and printed overseas presented so many challenges—from crooked factory owners to poor quality. Finally, I found a trustworthy printer that I’ve developed a close relationship with. They’re a small and ethically run manufacturer that weaves and prints the silk to a brilliant outcome.”
Shah’s colorful scarves are just bold enough to brighten and lift an outfit, while subtle enough to be worn with just about anything. And—aside from creating patterns that please her personally and finding a manufacturer to produce them beautifully and ethically—Shah wants a lot for the owner of each of her pieces: “There’s a famous Diana Vreeland quote I think about a lot. She said, ‘It’s not about the dress you wear, but it’s about the life you lead in the dress.’ I put a lot of thought and love into what I make, but I’m really interested in how people make these products their own. The scarves can be worn or hung on a wall or draped on a chair. The shapes, colors and materials have the ability to add a sense of playfulness to any environment or outfit. I hope to see how different personalities re-contextualize the products and make me see them in a new way.”
Each scarf in the debut collection is 100% silk and retails for $240 online.
Images courtesy of Soohang Lee