A designer of multidisciplinary modes of making, Nindya Bucktowar is the co-founder of multiple entities, alongside partner Nikhil Tricam, including Kalki Ceramics, Studio Kalki, Nindya Ceramics and Leather Studio. Kalki Ceramics is a factory that specialises in producing high-end ceramic surfaces. Studio Kalki is a design house that specialises in architecture, interior architecture, furniture design, and manufacturing. Nindya Ceramics is a ceramic studio specialising in art installations and ceramic lights, through which various collaborative projects are undertaken.
Bucktowar and Tricam won Nando’s Hot Young Designer award in 2021, which saw them embarking on exciting national and international projects with Clout SA and Nando’s. With designs that transcend into the art world, she has exhibited in group shows in South Africa and France, and she was selected for the RMB Talent Unlocked programme in 2021. Additionally, Bucktowar was shortlisted, amongst twelve of her contemporaries, for the ANNA Award 2023.
Bucktowar’s professional journey in the creative sector started with a move to South Africa from Mauritius, to study for a Bachelor’s in Architectural Studies at Nelson Mandela University (NMU) and graduated in 2013. Her journey since then has led her down an unexpected, yet delightful, path.
With a knack for imparting knowledge, Bucktowar took part in the IQOQO Sessions at the Keyes Art Mile in 2023.
Nindya Bucktowar: I am a multi-disciplinary designer, artist, and entrepreneur.
I grew up in Mauritius and moved to South Africa at the age of 18 to attend university at NMU, Gqeberha, where I studied science, and then architecture.
In 2013, after I graduated, I moved to Durban and worked at an architectural firm for six years, where we specialised in industrial architecture.
On the other side of my six years practising as an architect, I started building the foundation of my art and design career.
There are three words that Bucktowar considers to be the very foundations that hold her creative practice together, characterising and shaping her as a designer.
Nindya Bucktowar: Freedom, intention, and balance.
What does this mean to me?
I still have a lot to achieve in life. I am always a student and I often imagine the different spaces that I occupy as a limitless – an infinite landscape, whether it is my limitless imagination or the possibility for growth.
This feeds into the concept that is the most important to me, which is my freedom.
What does freedom mean to me?
Freedom is a constant lightness that I choose to carry and achieve in everything I do. It can be the freedom in my personal relationships, freedom with my time, financial freedom, professional freedom, and freedom from things that keep me from manifesting my true purpose. It is important to note that to achieve true freedom, there also needs to be flexibility in all aspects of my life. This is because the world around me will constantly change and shift, and so will I.
Life will always challenge my plans. Life will shatter what is comfortable.
A turning point in my life was when I discovered that every discomfort or challenge is an opportunity for growth and discovery. I need to stay curious and always be an observer.
I find this incredibly empowering; this is where I start taking true ownership of my destiny and purpose. In a world filled with distractions, I need to keep my focus on my purpose. I regularly paint a picture of my life, an image that constantly shifts, influenced by what the tides bring to me.
I am very conscious that nothing will ever be perfect, but my intention is to perfect the process.
I embrace my anxieties as they keep me alert. It teaches me about fear. When I listen to my body, the unknown becomes an ocean so deep, full of life, filled with magic and beauty.
When I identify something that holds me back, I can choose to let it go or work with it.
To work it like a dough until it softens, like teaching a muscle to move smoothly while creating sustainable strength from within.
I am often asked how I maintain balance while juggling all the moving parts of my life and business.
The truth is that achieving balance is a fragile place to be in because anything can cause a setback.
What is important to me, is knowing where my balance lies in life, work, relationships, and with my health. This gives me something to work on while allowing myself to oscillate between the ups and the downs.
Another thing is that in my past and future experiences, I trust that everything I go through and everything I learn from people will give me the tools I need to guide me on how to navigate all the different aspects; to unlock my freedom and maintain a sense of balance.
It has been essential for Bucktowar to lean on these three pillars; at the heart of them is an artistic passion that streams from the elements of human life and creativity.
Nindya Bucktowar: What is most important is my sacred centre, my creative centre – a burning flame that I constantly feed.
I am constantly inspired by the landscapes I occupy, the ocean, the forests, the cities and the people I meet.
One can either be dissociated or shut down from the world or be a sponge to every single experience. I constantly collect information from my environment, and it directly influences how I manifest, and how I create.
I love to define myself as someone born to create beautiful things, authentically and sustainably. That’s my vocation, in my world there is no other option.
Today, I choose to gift myself the freedom I deserve while keeping a focus on manifesting what I was born to do.
I would like to thank my incredible team for always holding the moving parts, my family for the continuous support, and my mentors for always inspiring me to dream bigger.
Bucktowar’s artistic practice draws both from her architectural training and way of seeing the world, and a deeply sensitive experience of nature and the various energies she engages with daily.
Nindya Bucktowar: I constantly feel everything around me. It’s actually not so nice as it impacts my sleep. I will even feel the ocean from [a house or building] next to the ocean.
The understanding of this landscape kind of drive is that I feel like I live outside of my body because I am always occupying space. Architecture was so natural when I joined the department [at university]; it manifested so easily.
Now I am an artist, and I think being an artist is so important because all this chaotic energy that you hold can just be channelled into making something beautiful. Or, it doesn’t need to be beautiful. Beauty is often a sign of the end-product, but the process can be beautiful also.
My understanding is based on my architectural education, and this is how I see the world. When I manifest my work, I’m thinking about the mountains, I’m thinking about the ocean, I’m thinking about the little cracks of the world.
Nindya Bucktowar’s sculptures and installations have a unique and ethereal presence.
Nindya Bucktowar: They are kind of immersed in my garden. Sometimes, I move them around the house.
I am actually very attached to them, so I do keep them very close. I don’t make them to sell, they are part of my quirky practice and I am building towards something a lot bigger. Ideally, I want to create this immersive, incredible space, but not coming from an architectural point because architecture has a lot of physics and mathematics. I feel like that’s very tricky sometimes. So, I discard [those elements] and use sensory experiences to create something that can become a functional space while also making people feel.