I was at the Mint Luxury conference in Mumbai.  The Lounge Luxury issue was timed for that.  There are some terrific essays by Radha Chadha and Sunil Khilnani.  I liked Radha’s “More is More” theory of Indian luxury– it is spot on.

Here is the link to my piece.

  • Columns
  • Posted: Fri, Mar 23 2012. 8:45 PM IST
  • The balancing act
Buying well-designed but functionally poor objects is not sustainable long-term because there is only so much “stuff” that your home can accommodate

The Good Life | Shoba Narayan

Even for design junkies such as myself, the world of product design is overwhelming. An obvious—and useful—constraint is budget: How much are you willing to spend to own an object by a designer you adore? But even there, the spread is pretty wide—you can own a beautifully designed object for a few thousand rupees, and it goes all the way to several crores. For example, a friend gifted me Philippe Starck’s Juicy Salif citrus squeezer, an iconic piece that Starck designed. It costs almost $100 (around Rs. 4,900) on Amazon and it doesn’t work. It sits on my kitchen counter as a decorative object. Even Starck admitted that his Juicy Salif was a conversation opener as much as it was a functional object. Buying well-designed but functionally poor objects is not sustainable long-term because there is only so much “stuff” that your home can accommodate. But for those with huge homes, unlimited space and an extendable budget, the world of design offers a pleasure that is nonpareil. Here are a few well-designed objects to add to your collection. Each has an Indian link: Either the designer is Indian or the inspiration is Indian or it is created in India.

Pi ke puht



Object of desire: Pi ke puht

Object of desire: Pi ke puht


Kulhad chai is a great north Indian invention. I haven’t seen it much in south India but the experience of drinking tea from an earthen cup and then tossing it without any guilt offers a pleasure that is hard to quantify. Designer Sian Pascale has taken this notion of biodegradable, hygienic teacups to the next level by embedding seeds in them. The idea is that the seeds will sprout from the broken teacups, continuing the circle of life. From destruction comes creation. This Melbourne-based designer plans to move to Mumbai this year. For details, visit http://sianpascale.blogspot.in/2011/11/chai-time.html

Lace Fence


Dutch brothers Joep and Jeroen Verhoeven used to spend half their time in India. Today, they collaborate with Bangalore-based designer Vivek Radhakrishnan to create this “high-end metal fabric” that combines the Indian art of lacemaking with metal fabrication (http://www.lacefence.com/). The product is developed and manufactured in Bangalore by Radhakrishnan, a graduate of the Design Academy Eindhoven, the Netherlands, arguably the best design school in the world today. Radhakrishnan’s design firm Kynkyny specializes in wood furniture. I saw his dining table at my friend Gauri Manepally’s home in Bangalore and fell in love with it. It is simple, square and made of a dark wood that is the colour of rich dark chocolate. For details, visithttp://www.kynkyny.com/home/index.php

Leather Lampshades



Leather Lampshades.

Leather Lampshades.


Amsterdam-based Heykoop, also a graduate of the Design Academy Eindhoven, is interested in handmade objects using low-tech techniques. His design sensibility veers towards sustainability and recycling. In 2009, he began a project with Hamara Foundation, Mumbai, for the assembly of these objects. Funded by the not-for-profit organization Tiny Miracles Foundation, this project has created Leather Lampshades. “Nowadays,” he says, “street children are going to school while their mothers help in the production of the lamps.” Heykoop is currently setting up a workplace at Hamara Foundation specifically for the school dropouts of this community with whom he designs and develops products using mainly recycled materials such asmatkas (spherical water vessels) and leather scrap. For product inquiries, call Mohan Chauhan at 022-24978844/55.

Flexie totes



Flexie totes

Flexie totes


Chennai-based designer Nupur Goenka looks to garbage for inspiration. Her Flexie totes, which retail for $25, use fabric waste, leather scraps and plastic from all those giant billboards erected in our cities. A single billboard can make about 20 totes, each of which is unique because they cut out the plastic and convert it into bags. Zurich-based Freitag, which makes bags and accessories, does the same thing: They use traffic billboards to make messenger bags that cost a whole lot more than Goenka’s bags. I love her Sit orphan chair that has been converted with neon-bright woven seats. For details, visit http://www.letsontheweb.com/home.html

Honest by


On a sabbatical in south India, Antwerp-based designer Bruno Pieters, previously with Hugo Boss, observed how local fashion was traceable to its source. I am not sure this is universally true in India, given our chain stores, but certainly for Indian women who buy bolts of fabric and then have it tailored, the experience of fashion is completely different from buying a global luxury product without any knowledge of its provenance. Pieters started his “Honest by” line, conceived during his south Indian experience. The idea is to give a complete breakdown of the cost of every jacket, sweater or dress that you buy from his website. As the website says, “Honest by wants to shed light on the questions: where is it made and by whom.” And for how much, I might add. For details, visithttp://www.honestby.com/en/page/16/about.html

Also Read | Shoba’s previous Lounge columns

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