Store Feature: Indsie

Some stories are meant to be told and shared. Because they inspire you, to act on your dreams, to use your education and experience to start an enterprise, to not just read one success story (well, funding story) after another and quietly reminiscent how you had that idea months back, and encourage you to not count the ways of how something will fail.

One such story is that of Sony of Indsie that I found inspiring. Indsie is a year old online store selling customised craft works from South India. Oh yes, we have zillion sites selling everything from kottans (Manjal) to Bishnupur sarees (Tjori) and fabrics from around the country (iTokri). Kantha and dhokra, or tussar and ikat were not part of a commoner’s vocabulary until a few years back. Of course, that has changed, thanks to these sites. Some are famous (Jaypore), while some are rustic. The difference lies in how it is styled (Jaypore) and projected beautifully with words. But, at the heart of it all, there is a common denominator: the products. These are products that are made with the same love, care, and effort of craftisans, a skill that sometimes have passed down generations and stay within the family. For the craftisans, it is the livelihood. Agreed, it is a crowded space of decor e-tailers and exhibitions all round the year, some sites stand out and survive while many succumb to Darwin’s theory.

Sony founded Indsie a year back. I found Sony’s name as intriguing as that of her venture, and nudged her to share the story behind their names. In her trademark casual manner, Sony said, ” Indsie just came to mind as a unique brand name focussing “India”. Like “Its so Indsie…” = Its so Indian.  And my name, well, Sony Soman Pillai weds Krishna Swamy = Sony Krishna Swamy.”

In an uninhibited conversation with Sony:

How did the idea of starting “Indsie” occur to you?

While I was doing BTech Computer Science, I was fascinated with technology and how it can be used to make software that can easily get work done. While I did MBA (PGDBM) at XLRI Jamshedpur, I visited interior areas in Jharkhand along with an NGO, where I interacted with Tribal people, who spent half the year making Dhokra crafts, when it is not agricultural season, living peacefully, but blissfully unaware that their craft was being bought by weight for very small exchanges. I participated in a social entrepreneurship business plan contest, during which this business occurred to me, of combining my love for technology plus social benefit, to form an e-commerce platform for craftspersons to sell their products, while getting a fair pay for their craft, and also disseminating knowledge about the craft, its history, and its maker in particular. The business plan was titled ‘Made Only in India’, and that is the current tagline of Indsie.com. After 4 years of working for a corporate, motherhood happened. I started Indsie while on break from work, and there has been no looking back.

ganesha stone statue sculpture

What are your favorite products on the site?

The ashtamangalyam set and mural paintings are my favorites. The Kerala mural paintings are intricately painted with a lot of attention to detail. Featured below is one of Ardhanareeswara – half man, half woman. While the ones below are acrylic on canvas, it can also be done on wood using natural colors and on saris.

Ardhanareeswara

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Designer Spotlight: (de)CoDe Architecture

Years ago, when we bought our first house, the thought of using the services of an interior designer never crossed our minds. Young, in our early 20s, perhaps the only thought on my mind was to just move into a house. If the space was functional and livable, it more than served the purpose than deal with an intimidating houseowner.

Who thought about aesthetics, space utilization, study, pooja, or color coordination? One night, I remember sitting on the floor by the door of our 2-bedroom rented home and complaining to my husband the project we had undertaken so early in life. With him traveling, the exhaustion of a full-time job, going around town looking for floor tiles on a scooty, and getting them transported across town caught up with me.

Fast forward to 2014. This week, for the most part, I’ve been sifting through pictures from the portfolios of interior designers. Anything that swept me off my feet? I wouldn’t be honest if I said yes.  But, may be that’s just me because I don’t like garish interiors with too much wood, false ceiling, a lot of accessories and such. But, there was one that stood out distinctly from over hundreds of images. I’m being methodical for a change with this project: going room by room looking at pictures and portfolios of interior designers. Coincidentally, the first picture I clicked for every room belonged to the same person: the Banerji residence designed by deCode architecture.

DeCoDe Architecture is a multi-disciplinary design practice specializing in architecture and interior design consultancy. With over 10 years of professional experience working for various offices in New York City and Bombay, the partners in the practice follow the adage: Keep it simple.

I’ll let you see the pictures and decide if I was biased in my judgement.

decode architecture - interior designer mumbai

Here are snippets of my conversation with Meghna and Prashant, the founders of deCode:

Personally, what drew me to your work even while scanning hundreds of pictures was the clean color palette, not over-the-top, minimal design. I noticed some recurring colors and themes as well: rocking chair, touches of aqua wall color, wood not being the focus point of a room yet there is enough storage. Correct me if I’m wrong. So, what is your design philosophy?

We follow the adage: Keep it simple. Our work  tends to be quiet, subtle and subdued putting the focus on the experience rather than the expense. We tend to design functional spaces that are free of physical and visual clutter. Our belief is that a home should be comfortable and a container for memories, light, space and art.

Ethnic elements - decode architecture

 

decode architecture - interior designer bombay

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Store Feature: Engrave

Nimish of Engrave was persistent in getting me out of this blogging hiatus. When the to-do list grows too long in my head, I make a note of it in a diary (yep, very old-fashioned unlike remember the milk) and take pleasure in seeing things crossed off the list. Then the list and diary are forgotten until the list grows again. For the past three months (blame it on the house project), the diary sits next to my laptop. And, there are things beyond your control that can’t be crossed off in a day or two. This post was not one of them that could not be crossed. So, I was determined today to get into action and bring a big smile on Nimish’s face.

Engrave is an India-based design collective engaged in the pursuit of creating unique lifestyle products with fine craftsmanship. Their products are personalized and designed to last a lifetime. Engrave offers plaques, canvas prints, name plates and a number of other handcrafted products.

The Engraved Plaque was one of the products I could relate to as we got one made with our pictures back in 2005. Canvas prints and the ganesha wall decal are my favorite on the site. If you don’t like a canvas print, then you customize it. I’m going to get the “why so serious?” one.

canvas prints

ganesha wall decal

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