Settle Anywhere - A Conversation with Khyati Trehan
What does home mean to you? Is it the house you grew up in? Walls lined with pictures of the family, both human and pet. Or is it everything your rucksack could carry the day you chose to set out on your own? Or is it the place where you decided to make a new life? 'Settle Anywhere' is a series dedicated to chronicling the lives of people whose idea of "home" has evolved with their various significant movements. We talk to some of these people to understand more about these movements and their influences on their work and life, and about how they manage to settle just about anywhere.
Khyati Trehan is a graphic designer, 3D artist and illustrator from New Delhi. She graduated in Visual Design from National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad during which she also interned with the Think Tank Team for Samsung Research in Silicon Valley, California. She currently lives and works in Berlin.
The Ups and Downs
Talking about her move to Berlin, Khyati tell us, "The best part about starting a life in Berlin was learning that there's something for everyone here. You can do it all - bask in the sun next to the canal, soak in the club culture as you party till 9 AM, stroll through the endless exhibits or just stay in and make a meal with your flatmates. I also love the second family I made in Berlin. The most challenging bit of setting up a new life in Germany was the beginning, particularly the paperwork and the pain that is house-hunting."
Moving from India to Germany can hardly be called a seamless transition. But one can get close if they arm themselves with the right tools, which in Khyati's case were her knack for home decor, patience, and relative mindfulness of her self and surroundings. Soon enough, what was practically an alien city turned into her very own version of home. She says, "It's very easy to have moments in a new city where you feel like an outsider. This is why setting a base that you can call home and come back to was so important to me. One of the ways I built my home was to gradually and organically fill it with furniture instead of doing it all at once. Making the space slowly and collecting articles based on what felt right at different points in time helped build a place that feels comfortable and more like me. I also decorated my space with art made by my family and friends to have some kind of presence of India lingering in my space."
"Making the space slowly and collecting articles based on what felt right at different points in time helped build a place that feels comfortable and more like me."
As an artist living in one of the art capitals of the world, the influences of the city were bound to overflow into Khyati's work. In her own words, "Berlin is such a stimulating place, so it's hard not to get inspired. The city is a magnet for artists because of the unmissable sense of freedom in the air. Being in such an environment, especially as a visual artist, helped me push myself to create more often and freely. It also made me more open to experiences. I heard myself saying more yes's and fewer no's."
For Khyati, cultural differences, especially the ones experienced in the workplace, played just as pivotal a role in informing her work and her person as the change of place. Discussing this significant shift, she says, "In India, as a visual designer who was used to specific briefs and tight (and often, many) constraints, I realised that ambiguity scared me. We're so good at working with whatever little we have, and being accommodating, that being catapulted into the luxury of possibilities feels unfamiliar and daunting. The Studio, where I worked, has been a great place for working on this discomfort as it's a small team that uses IDEO's human-centred design thinking process to ask and answer big questions that would have otherwise never landed on my plate."
Khyati confesses that working in Germany has also introduced her to the concept of work-life balance. "Working in Indian studios often involves hard work. Whereas working overseas, where getting weekends off and having strict work times is the norm, promotes a culture of time management and efficiency," she adds.
You can follow Khyati's journey and work here.