It is all decor this weekend as flagship stores in Delhi and Jaipur take their handcrafted creations and high-profile collabs online. We review Nila House, Obeetee and Sarita Handa’s new e-commerce platforms
Nila House may have gone online a year ago (nilajaipur.com), with a white and indigo colour scheme that echoed the physical space in Jaipur, but, as Alexis Barrell, creative director at the not-for-profit organisation, says, it took the pandemic to “pivot towards a more focussed digital communication platform”. Their new website, launched over a week ago, centres on e-commerce and engagement.
Shop for Nila’s range of homeware — Kerala tea towels to kantha cushions — and fashion. On the site now is Nila Studio’s collab with UK-based designer Anna Valentine. Think sculptural culottes, coats and tees in indigo. The lack of quick view and wishlist options, though, is inconvenient. And be warned, you might encounter a few 404 error messages too (which the team promises to iron out soon).
What we love, however, are the DIY kits. Want to learn handspinning? Buy a spindle, 10 gms of kala cotton and a booklet for ₹620, and sign up for a virtual workshop with artisans from Govindgarh in Madhya Pradesh. Want to be more adventurous? Set up an indigo vat in your kitchen — choose a kit with indigo powder, lime powder, pH paper and other ingredients for ₹1,190. “We are working on creating more educational kits, for everything from leheriya and bandini to dabu,” says Barrell. “We are also making natural watercolour bases that people can purchase along with handmade sketchbooks.”
Up next: Look out for comprehensive, step-by-step video workshops that will “introduce people to crafts like miniature painting, with a master miniaturist who works with natural pigments”. Nila will also soon retail frame looms and yarns.
The pandemic has been a great leveller, with brands, big and small, heading online for visibility. The 100-year-old Delhi-based brand, Obeetee, is no different, as hand-knotted, hand-tufted carpets reach the masses via a new e-commerce store. Shop by design — traditional, contemporary, abstract or geometric — and by collection on the site that features an animated home page and large, expressive fonts. That being said, customers would greatly benefit from a quick view option or, at the very least, the choice to view each product in a different tab. While you can add to the wishlist, you need to create an account to do so.
Collaborative collections with Indian designers Tarun Tahiliani, Abraham & Thakore and Raghavendra Rathore — that “create an indigenous design language for carpets otherwise dominated by Persian and Chinese motifs”— is one of the brand’s USPs, says a spokesperson. The overall range starts from ₹6,300 (for 5×3 ft polyester dhurries) going all the way up to ₹16.42 lakh for a 18×12 ft wool and cotton hand-knotted piece that took three artisans 422 days to make. Silk carpets go from ₹52,000 to ₹10.8 lakh. There is a monthly edit: October’s is inspired by the red oxide floors of traditional homes and the Pantone shade Island Hazelnut.
Perhaps the most impressive option is customisation. Compared to others who offer similar services — such as Hands Carpets, Jaipur Rugs and The Weaver — it gives more choice to the customer. Pick the pattern, specify dimensions and see how it looks in different pre-set templates (living, dining or bedroom). When it comes to colourways, choose from an extended palette, Obeetee’s signature colours or, if you want it ASAP, from a Quickship set that has over two dozen options.
Up next: Zanzibar, a jute handknotted collection inspired by the elaborately carved doors of the African nation, and a sustainable line of flat weaves using natural dyes.
Sarita Handa home decor
With their shop-in-shop and independent stores in Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai being closed during the lockdown, this eight-year-old home linen brand launched their online store last month. This comes as a relief to patrons who earlier had to trawl through various websites to find the exact Sarita Handa product they wanted.
The brand’s signature floral and nature-inspired designs on decorative cushions, bedspreads and fabrics now also include lifestyle products such as handbags, pouches and robe sets. The quick-view option helps when you’re checking out multiple options; perhaps a grid view with two or three products per row would be useful to navigate faster on the mobile site. The current collection, called The Mix — for its use of ikat, suzani and Palampore fabrics along with rug patterns and pick-stitch embroidery — is being promoted prominently. Framed botanical wall art is also available, and the sale section has everything at half price.
The lifestyle products are online-only. Unisex robe sets come with matching quilted slippers in cotton jacquards and matelassé; the totes are embroidered and can be machine-washed; and the pouches are upcycled from the brand’s fabric waste.
Up next: More decor categories and gifting options to be added in the coming months.