Indian Handcrafted Goods in Frankfurt

Indian Goods Co. is a platform to showcase design from India that is cutting-edge, functional, beautiful and rooted in India’s incredible handicraft heritage. From Beautiful, handmade objects for everyday living produced in small batches all can be found under one roof.

The Founder, Vatsala, explains “India’s cliched representation in Europe was so frustrating for me. I wanted to present the dynamism and creativity I knew India had, along with its rich tradition of handicrafts. A handful of designers were re-thinking craft and design, combining beautiful old-world materials and techniques with contemporary forms and functionality. I believe objects designed with this philosophy have the potential to inspire: to make every day moments more joyful and special.”

Vatsala further adds “We are very careful about the ethical, social and ecological background of our products and select designers based on how they source materials and their manufacturing processes. Our products are almost all handmade by talented artisans and craftspeople, which allows you to partake in living traditions that are generations old. We’re very proud to offer products made fairly, with love and great attention to detail.”

We further chatted with her to understand the scope of Indian design and crafts in a global market.

Safomasi at Indian goods company
I quickly realised that design, more than advertising, was my passion and gravitated toward topics like typography, layout and colour.
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How does your cultural background influence your aesthetics? Germany homes some indie brands, could you comment on how some neighbourhoods (outside India) become design districts giving a new meaning to culture and diversity?

Cultural diversity lays the foundation for creative growth: London, Berlin and New York (to name just a few!) are great examples of how a melding of cultures, beliefs and attitudes gives rise to diverse movements that can exist in parallel harmony. There shouldn’t ever be just one mainstream aesthetic that is championed—or, worse, deemed “correct”—because how we live, dress and eat is an amalgamation of nurture, nature and environment. I count myself lucky to have been exposed to these different cultures, but it’s taken time and self-reflection to understand my aesthetic, especially since it’s something in flux and constantly changing and adapting, even if minimally.

Current state of Indian crafts globally, Strengths and challenges

I’m excited by the status quo: by how many young people are choosing a career in a creative branch and that are starting their own (non-tech!) businesses. It takes so much dedication and force to start something on your own and to challenge the existing paradigm, all with the view to making things better. As with all things, the context in which Indian textiles are presented determines how people understand them. I find it very important to communicate our stories, to create context and bring more humanness to the process. This sensitivity needs to filter down to the craftsmen in India as well—our challenge is definitely to make these careers lucrative for them, to celebrate their roles. We need more equality and humanity to properly showcase the incredible talent, tradition and beauty our crafts are imbued with.

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A piece of textile is both a work of art and design

It is probably the best example of a art-design hybrid! Just think of a throw or blanket lying on a couch—beautiful decoration and yet very useful when its comes to warming your feet when you’re lounging! Also, textiles invariably have a beautiful cultural history behind them and a mostly (though not exclusively) female perspective in their creation, which makes them a sort of living artefact. Just touching a beautiful piece of fabric can be such a wonderful experience!

I think how craft is presented is key to the conversation. India has a history of bespoke clothing—be it the tailor down the road making a custom-fitted blouse or buying a one-off handwoven Kanjeevaram sari.

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Image credits: Eda Temucin, Ivana Krzelj, Jonas Lenger

To participate write to us at sayali@cocoaandjasmine.com

The Craft Project wishes to document tangible anthropology i.e material culture of a place and comment on its relevance in the contemporary space. We also wish to bring together a community of cultural travelers and craft entrepreneurs and create a collective of common motivation. The Craft Project celebrates Diversity in culture through objects, folk arts, crafts, and design.  Through this project, we will be conducting community-sourced primary research and publishing about crafts and will involve brands, NGOs, collectives, makers, designers, curators, thought leaders, other publications etc. 

Start of a design journey

Design has always occupied a place in my life. As a child and young adult, this was more informal and something I pursued in my free time as there wasn’t much focus laid on it in school. I experimented mostly with creating things: making earrings out of wood and broken-apart safely pins or sewing dresses for my (admittedly very few) Barbies. I also once set up a lending library with my siblings and designed a corporate identity for it—it had one loyal customer. 

My journey in design began more seriously after school though, when I started studying Advertising & Graphic Design at Wigan & Leigh College in Bangalore. I quickly realised that design, more than advertising, was my passion and gravitated toward topics like typography, layout and colour. After a years’ work experience following my Diploma, I transferred my credits and started in the second year of the BA Program in Communication Design at Chelsea College of Art & Design in London. This was, as can be expected, a wholly different experience and it became a counterbalance to my exposure thus far. Design theory was very new to me, as was conceptual design and it was interesting to design an end product that was guided by my interests and investigations rather than based on a fixed outcome.

There shouldn’t ever be just one mainstream aesthetic that is championed—or, worse, deemed “correct”—because how we live, dress and eat is an amalgamation of nurture, nature and environment.

Your initiative has managed to bring together some of the best names in modern Indian design. How do you think commercial designing marries crafts creating a balance of modern and traditional? 

I feel very lucky to be able to present the designers I do. They are all, without exception, peers whose work I find inspiring—and beautiful. The fact that they have such strong ideas about how and why one manufactures is a sign of their interest in creating markets that focus on ethical consumption and informed  choices. Being a designer gives you perspective on solving problems with your work, making life easier or just more beautiful. I think these factors—combined with a knowledge and respect for traditional handicrafts—is what makes for a wonderful hybrid. It includes consumers as well, allowing them to participate in something that is bigger than all of us, and crucially, it gives them respect by allowing them choice. At its most fulfilling, this marriage empowers all of us: craftspeople, designers and the person standing in a store debating what to choose.

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Fast fashion and craft

Again, I think how craft is presented is key to the conversation. India has a history of bespoke clothing—be it the tailor down the road making a custom-fitted blouse or buying a one-off handwoven Kanjeevaram sari. This is craft—yet I’m not sure many of us see it this way. Similarly, all our fast fashion pieces are created by human hands but we disavow this humanity by pricing them in a manner that makes disposing and replacing easier. Bringing more permanence back to fashion, through aspects like re-examining our consumption, is perhaps a good way to address change in a more holistic manner.

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