Big interlocking ‘C’s and G’s must excite some, I’m not saying I don’t enjoy the occasional label indulgence, but the best design stores, are singular in style. They proclaim their identities without relying on big gaudy initials or uncopyrightable plaids. Mumbai, like any design city worth its salt, is only as good as the ‘Artesigners’ that keep it running. This week I’ve sought out some young designers whose water tight programmes and spirit of innovation singles them out in our design hungry city.
Ajoy Advani, creative director Filter
Filter has got to be among the most aptly named stores I’ve ever encountered. Mumbai has its share of art and design shops, but to find one that distills its products so expertly as Filter is a rarity here. Sixty per cent of the items on Filter’s shelves come directly from the in-house design team. Whatever products don’t come from the in-house team are sourced from artists, photographers and product designers. “The idea behind Filter was to create a space where one could find interesting, quirky and fun products that reflected a certain sense of quality and design,” Ajoy told me. Well, Mr Advani, mission accomplished.
Anjali Mody, founder and creative director Josmo
The furniture made by Josmo pulls off rather a difficult balancing act, matching whimsy with clarity of vision, references to Bombay’s urban heritage with modern materials. Best-selling products like the Pixa side table and the Starvitri chair stand in stark contrast one to the other, the former an apparently haphazard pile of wooden planks, the other sleek and streamlined in black and white.
Josmo is all about customisation, the collection is constantly reinvigorated with exciting new material. As Anjali says, “we like leaving an air of mystery in our design language.” And that’s what Josmo gives so generously, the unexpected reference, the hidden detail.
Noorie, founder and creative director Obataimu
“Obataimu is a space where Mumbai meets Tokyo,” says Noorie Sadarangani of her “process-oriented, multi-disciplinary studio.” The store model is unlike any other you’ll encounter in Mumbai: for six months of the year, Obataimu functions as “a live clothing atelier”, displaying the previous six months’ design pieces. In the following six months, as Obataimu’s design team sets to work on its next round of innovations in clothing, furniture, lighting and product design, the space will convert itself into an art-design gallery. If any store in Mumbai captures my own personal sense of what design should be; diverse, warm, humorous and accessible, it’s Obataimu.
Yamini Namjoshi, brand director Bandit Queen
“Genuine and practical” is how Yamini describes her own aesthetic, but her linens and textiles are far too beautiful to think of just in terms of utility. Bandit Queen isn’t just like any other boutique brand. And like the Bandit Queen herself, the brand doesn’t turn up just anywhere. She makes an appearance in Masjid Bunder at Le Mill and keeps her own quarters perhaps even farther off the beaten track in Kalachowki. Their enigmatic namesake captures their spirit better – as Yamini describes it, “Indian born, clandestine.”