Thursday, August 13, 2015

OMNAH (Featured artist/shop)

OMNAH” is a Mumbai (India) based socio-economic initiative, consistently striving to offer a comprehensive and innovative selection of indigenous art and textile artistry. With a vision devoted to combining authenticity of classic craftsmanship from India and creating an online-marketplace for discerning customers with an eye for beauty, each product is curated to mirror the personality and story of its locale allowing a taste of what the region has to offer. Omnah sources its handmade products by working closely with the artisans and craftsmen at the grass root level. This not only directly aids the artisans at a chance of improving their lifestyle but also minimizes the negative long-term impact on the environment as Omnah believes in using natural and sustainable materials. 
Color, tradition and inspiration driven, the creative soul behind Omnah is Malavika A Kamath. I’m thrilled to welcome her on TECD! How about we get to know this beautiful lady and her brand Omnah over a cup of tea?

TECD: Hello Malavika! Let’s get started by asking you, what does the name Omnah signify?
Malavika: “I was very certain I wanted to have a brand with Om as a prefix, but when I coined the name, little did I know it would mean something in Sanskrit and Hebrew. Omnah is a variation of Somnath ‘Lord of the Moon’ (Shiva) in Sanskrit and in Hebrew it translates to nourish or take care of, which I hope to achieve in a small way for rural artisans in India. Also, the ‘nah’ in Omnah is an acronym for the brand slogan - ‘Natural. Authentic. Handmade.’"
TECD: We’d like to know more about the creative soul behind Omnah and how did it all come together? 
Malavika: “Life happens to you when you’re busy making plans, right? After I completed my Masters degree in Social Psychology, I set out to work as a flight attendant with Cathay Pacific, because at the time I wanted to travel and see the world! We have just one life, I believe in pursuing any interests or passions that one gravitates to. 

After a few initial years in Hong Kong, I moved to Singapore, lived and worked there for over a decade. When I quit my corporate job in 2011, I was at the peak of my career at Global Work Place Solutions. It’s when I decided to return to my roots to follow creative pursuits in interior design and photography. (For the record, I’ve always been a keen home decorator, collecting art and artifacts from my travels in India and the world. It’s why I was also drawn to The East Coast Desi page). The thought of starting something on my own that would incorporate all my 3 loves – shopping, travelling & photography, came into being and Omnah was launched in October 2013.”

TECD: What is it that you most enjoy about being your own boss?
Malavika: “I love the freedom and flexibility this venture gives me. I enjoy working from the comforts of my home, at my pace, without the stress of deadlines set by someone else, and no late-night conference calls with someone halfway across the world!"

TECD: Take us through the various products that Omnah showcases? 
Malavika: "Omnah carries a selection of curated artisanal as well as in-house created products, handcrafted in one form or another. So far I’ve showcased hand-block-printed Sanganeri and South cotton cushion covers created in-house, have curated hand-embroidered products in Phulkari, Chikankari, nomadic accessories and home linen from Kutch, hand-painted kalamkari, handwoven sarees from Chanderi, South India, Kutch, Maheshwar and Benaras. Our handpicked selection of hand-knotted jewelry from Mayabazaar has always had a good response each time.

As far as possible I curate products from artisans and weavers directly, but I also handpick items from NGOs and self-help groups that support the livelihood of artisans and empower women.”
TECD: That’s a very impressive range of products, I must say! You said earlier, that you enjoyed travelling . Tell us more about your travel experiences for Omnah?
Malavika: “My sourcing trips have taken me to a few places the past 2 years, from Patiala to Pochampally, Kutch to Kanchipuram, but India has so much to offer and there’s so much more to cover! I love travelling to remote, rustic parts of India, to meet artisans in their own workspace. I feel it is essential to see the effort that goes into creating these beautiful products, see how the artisans live (or survive, in some cases) and in return I have received only warmth and simple rural hospitality. The familiar clacking sounds of handlooms through a quiet village street or an urban by-lane is as exciting to me now as visiting a new country in Europe!
On occasion I’ve also had the company of close friends during my travels. The sourcing trip to the quaint town of Chanderi was memorable and fun, we ended up doing the photoshoot for the dupattas in the town itself. I am blessed with a wonderful family and friends who support the brand and business, and are happy to be our cover girls! It makes the ride all the more fun."
TECD: What according to you is the USP of Omnah? 
Malavika: "Variety is the very spice of life, that gives it all flavor.’ It is my endeavor to bring in as much variety to the brand, an array of products from home textiles, jewelry, art to sarees, to appeal to resident as well as global Indians, in addition to a niche market of expats living in Mumbai."

TECD: And finally, a few words of wisdom on your Success mantra as a small business owner? 
Malavika: "If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day your life!” Follow your passion, fuel it with focus and determination, support others, explore new paths, compare your success only with your own past, and keep learning!”

Now wasn’t that one inspiring conversation? I for one, am always happy to meet individuals who have the courage to dream big and then work hard to turn them into reality. Thank you Malavika for taking the time to share your creative journey with us. 

To stay abreast of the latest updates from Omnah, connect with them via their FB page. May I also point out that Omnah is currently offering a 10 to 20% discount on their handloom sarees and dupattas, to mark the the first National Handloom Day in India (sale ends August 14th,2015)!  

Our warmest wishes to Omnah! 

Images: Omnah

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Tour of Rosie's Retreat Homestay (Lakeside)

With sweeping views of man-made Lake Pachola, this Airbnb homestay is a hallmark of individuality and ethnic style done right! Rosie's Retreat Homestay (Lakeside) blends beautifully into Udaipur's architectural backdrop with emphasis being on a place of escape and relaxation.This quaint two story apartment is owned by Rosie Cornwallis and is filled with architectural niches and arches, tribal treasures, art and antiques creating what I call "spirited interiors".
Let's start with a tour of the breath-taking master bedroom.....A carved stone jharokha not only serves to enhance the architectural quotient of the home but it also serves as one of a kind headboard. 

Image waking up in this bed with magical views of the beautiful lake! Do take note of the small spinning windows at the side of the bed for late night lake viewing. It doesn't get any more romantic than this, does it? 

Wooden beams decorating the ceiling and flat woven kilims on the floor bring warmth and character to this beautiful living room dressed with furniture in rustic wood tones.

Adorning this corner is a 1920's English chest-of-drawers with the Brijbasi prints of the Hindu Gods serving as art.

Drooling over this handpainted Jodhpur almari and the rustic bedroom door that leads to the breakfast courtyard.

More door love!

The alfresco breakfast nook located just off the bedroom seems like the perfect spot to enjoy some mouth watering parathas smeared with butter before one heads out to take in all that Udaipur (also known as "The Venice of the East") has to offer. Potted plants, granite carvings and a village carving of Mira guarding the doorway are simple touches that bring about a huge impact.

The house is fitted with an expansive private terrace complete with diwan style seating and a sigdi (firepit)  for some serious lounging.

And finally a view of the scenic sunsets from the terrace with the Amet Haveli and Leela Palace in the background. Now who wouldn't want a piece of this?

Images: Airbnb

Monday, August 3, 2015

Be a Part of the "COPPRE" Culture (and a Giveaway!)

In 2011, Rashmi Ranade (Founder and Lead Designer at Coppre and Alumni of Sir J. J. College of Architecture and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mumbai) embarked upon a journey to revolutionize a forgotten craft heritage of India - “The Tambat”The metalcrafting artisans of Tambat Ali in Pune (India) migrated from Kosam Gaon in the 17th century to supply the Peshwai households with copperware. Sculpting and chiseling, they flourished in the Peshawar era making artillery, royal seals and utensils for more than three centuries. However with the invasion of the Bristish rule, the Peshawars were overthrown. This change in monarchy brought about several other changes with them like the introduction of steel and plastic. With affordable and accessible versions of the copperware in steel and plastic, the artisans faded into obscurity. Overtime the colony that had around 800 artisans has been reduced to a mere 80 artisans today. That’s when team Coppre (Sudakshina Sinha Banerjee- Market Outreach, Chhanda Bihari - Finance and Operations and Seemantini Mihir - Branding and eCommerce) stepped into reconstitute, revive and breathe new life into a lost heritage craft form. 

Three years later, brand "Coppre" has grown by leaps and bounds and has not only managed to be an advocate for this one-of-a-kind heritage craft but has also carved a niche for itself in the world of product design and copper culture.With an impressive presence in 8 countries and branching out to more than 14 cities in India, Coppre's latest effort to widen their market reach has been the launch of their US website. But what measures their success as a socio-enterprise is their collaborative efforts with artisan’s practicing this ancestral vocation has grown threefold from 10 (when they started in 2011) to a group of 30 artisans and the fact that they have even reformed how these artisans are remunerated is beyond laudable! 
Team Coppre has launched over 5 collections till date with each collection reflecting Coppre’s distinguished design philosophy that centers on “Traditional Skills, Timeless Designs”. That being said, each product reflects uncompromising quality, exquisite craftsmanship and style quotient that emphasizes understated elegance.

Coppre's imaginative design process absorbs fragments of inspiration primarily from nature and the bygone era. A labor intensive process is then undertaken to bring to fore glistening creations that are hand beaten and etched painstakingly. Their latest collection, “The Water Bearers" pays tribute to the traditional wisdom that throws spotlight on the health benefits of drinking copper charged water. The impossibly stylish new product range brings together the opulence of the burnished metal, utilitarian strength of copper and new age design that makes the product adaptive to the modern day lifestyle.

The concept and inspiration for the Water Bearers collection is fascinating. This is what team Coppre had to say :

"Long before the discovery of plastic and steel, metals were shaped into objects of everyday utility. They adorned every home, both affluent and impoverished. Generously utilized day in and out, for cooking, eating, drinking, carrying, storing and more. These were meticulously cared for- scrubbed and polished to reveal their innate metallic glory.

What was utilitarian and pretty was also good for the society, the family and the individual- both maker and buyer. People were healthy and metals played a role in it.

With the passage of time came convenience and a hurried living style. Plastic and steel became ubiquitous and metals were relegated to the attics or pawned off. What was necessary became redundant. What was indispensable, replaced. Preferences have since changed, but the needs are still the same. That’s why we bring tradition to you in contours and containers palatable to your tastes, needs and homes.Therefore, The Water Bearers."
Here are a few more facts about Copper that will convince you as to why one needs Coppre in their lives:
~ Recommended in Ayurveda, Tamrajal or water ionized by Copper is known to have a myriad health benefits. (Rich in antioxidants, kills bacteria, regulates thyroids, cures arthritis, heals wounds faster, stimulates brain activity, improves digestion, beats anemia!) 
~The Tambat craft community has been handcrafting water bearers for more than 400 years. They continue to do so, to this day. However, the practice is dwindling owing to convenience of plastic and steel, ease of maintenance and inadequate product design.
It's finally time to share details of the wonderful giveaway. One lucky TECD reader walks away with a set of 2 Linear Tumblers from Coppre's latest collection - "Water Bearers"!

All you have to do is :
(1) For the main entry, Sign-up/Subscribe with Coppre on their website (look at the bottom right hand corner for the orange subscribe tab) and like TECD's FB Page
(2) For each additional entry, follow Coppre on Instagram and TECD on Instagram.
(3) Once done with the above, leave a comment on TECD's Facebook page stating which of the actions you have followed.

It's as simple as that! The giveaway is open upto August 15th, 2015 . The winner will be decided by team Coppre on August 16th,2015. 
Good luck readers! I would like to thank the Coppre team for the wonderful giveaway and wish them all the very best in their endeavor to preserve a dwindling tradition and craft of India! To see more of their products, click here or connect with Coppre via their FB Page

Image Copyright/Credit : Coppre