Tuesday, 30 June 2015

A Gulmohar in the desert

'Design is not making beauty, beauty emerges from selection, affinities, integration, love.'

As you all know, I spent a significant part of my childhood in Barmer, Rajasthan. Barmer district located in the south-west part of Rajasthan shares its borders with the Rann of Kutch and Sindh in Pakistan. Apart from hand block printed and hand painted fabric, the area is also known for its hand carved furniture. So it was but natural that my parents would want to own a few pieces.

However, what we were not prepared for was that over a period of time they would hoard every conceivable piece of carved furniture from the district. Consequently, we have spent the better part of the last two decades trying to convince them to replace a few pieces with something more contemporary. This exquisitely carved furniture that now probably costs an arm and a leg is not only cherished in our home for its craftsmanship but also for its sentimental value, thus making it difficult to part with.

Although  growing up in this design and culture rich state was one of the most enriching experiences of our lives, every once in a while, especially during the sweltering summer months, I yearned, not only for contemporary furniture but also for the Gulmohar lined streets of Bangalore.

Cut to 2015- Rajasthan is now home to a brand of contemporary furniture that is not only affordable and rich in aesthetics but also reminiscent of the Gulmohar lined streets of Bangalore from a bygone era.

Armed with a degree from NIFT and their combined experience of working with well known Indian and International brands, this lovely couple decided to translate their passion for creating and providing easy and honest furniture options into a thriving online platform for furniture and other interior solutions. After extensive research and training with companies in Italy, they decided to set up their workshop and production facility in Jaipur. Gulmohar lane, the brainchild of Shweta Mewara and Saurabh Ailawadi strives to provide furniture options that are comfortable, visually appealing as well as fairly priced. When I reached out to them and asked them to share their story they enthusiastically agreed to answer a few questions.

What were your creative influences while you were growing up?
Shweta: I draw inspiration from both my parents. My mother’s keen eye for detail and uncompromising presentation skills are a huge influence. My dad though an I.A.S officer himself always encouraged us kids to pursue our creative interests. Apart from them on an everyday level I draw inspiration from anyone with a unique visual take…

Saurabh: I remember living in Bhopal, I would visit this lake-side place called Shyamla hills which had these beautiful bungalows facing this amazing lake. That would really inspire me along with these curated furniture from the havelis and heritage hotels which still have that old world charm.

Why the name Gulmohar lane?
Shweta: Gulmohar Lane takes us to beautiful lanes, covered with trees on both sides. A lane with a row of charming homes, put together over the years with a lot of personal love and care. We all aspire to build a perfect home. Our homes reflect a little bit of who we are. The word ‘Gulmohar’ expresses a strong India connect while ‘Lane’ gives it a contemporary touch; a name that breathes easy yet exudes rich aesthetics.

What are your future plans for the brand? What can we expect to see?
Shweta:We are looking at expanding the product line. We just launched scatter pillow and will be launching a category very close to our hearts;lighting. We are also working on a line of hand-tufted beds and sofa cum beds as we are also getting a huge demand for these products. Soon we are planning to launch a line of apartment friendly living room furniture, which would work well for places like Mumbai, Bangalore etc.

Saurabh:We want to take one step at a time and go in for an organic growth. Our focus right now is to provide the best product and shopping experience to our customers through visualizations and providing as many details about the product as possible. Ideally we would want to open brick and mortar stores as well in major cities for our customers to touch and feel the products. We are also tying up with a few stores that will stock and display our products in major cities so that the customers can experience the product and buy it instantly if they wish to. As of now we ship samples of our fabrics to our customers so that they could get the feel of the fabrics.

As you have probably noticed we at The Purple-Yellow Beetle :)  love Rajasthan, so cant help but ask -what do YOU love about Rajasthan?
We love Rajasthan too! It is never short of inspiring you as a state. Whether it is the heritage of the city, the colors, the havelis and gharans or people on the street. Everything is inspiring. We decided to shift our base to Jaipur as this beautiful city, a city with a soul, is so rich in design and traditions and yet developing at the right pace. Jaipur is also one of the hubs of furniture manufacturing industry besides Jodhpur. Both these cities also have the skilled artisans, including some of them who have been working for the Royalty for generations, creating beautiful upholstered handcrafted furniture.

'A city with a soul!' We could’nt agree more! Thank you for sharing your story with us Shweta and Saurabh. We look forward to experiencing the skilled craftsmanship of Rajasthan and walking down Gulmohar lane with you.