Archana Shah studied textile design and graduated from the National Institute of Design (NID) in 1981.
While at NID, she developed a keen interest in the traditional craft skills of the indigenous artisans. She travelled to remote corners of the country to study, understand and experience the vast variety of weaving, dyeing, printing, embroidery and ornamentation techniques practised by different communities. This proved to be a very enriching journey, and the unique skills of the people of various regions, their distinctive colour palettes, and rich design vocabulary became the base for all her future work.
In 1985, Archana started a clothing company, Bandhej, a label influenced by the traditional textile skills, offering a range of handcrafted contemporary clothing created for Indian women, with an eastern sensibility. Over time, Bandhej has created a distinct idiom in its design offering handcrafted, sustainable fashion that has an understated elegance with a chain of stores in Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Bangalore.
She has designed costumes for a few feature films such as Bhavni Bhavai and Mirch Masala and for theatre, worked on the Festival of India inaugurations at Paris in 1985, Moscow, Leningrad and Tashkent 1987, to design architectural textile installations to create an Indian mood.
More recently she has published a book – Shifting Sands, Kutch: A Land in Transition. The book is a personal journey of discovery and about her association of over thirty years with the land, people and their craft. She believes, traditional wisdom has a lot to offer.
Archana continues to be the driving force behind Bandhej, a company started with a vision to uphold, preserve and sustain the precious skills and inherent knowledge of indigenous artisans through collaborative design interventions.