How Rashmi Ranade’s Coppre is helping revive the urban craft of Maharashtra
Copper katoris silvered on the inside, copper boxes with brass lids finished in a clear lacquer coat, coasters, floaters and even carafes… Coppre, based in Maharashtra, takes a traditional, urban skill and lends it a new flavour with design intervention in a bid to give copper craftsmen a new lease of life. “Several urban crafts have died out and not much is known about them,” Rashmi Ranade of Coppre says. “Maharashtra was industrialised early and is a dry region. There isn’t really a grand tradition of craft here. As an architect and product designer, when I was studying, everything was taught to me from a Western point of view. So when I looked closer to home for inspiration the copper industry here interested me.” For ages now copper has been a part of the everyday lives of Indians. Cannons used in war, temple crafts and coins, utensils especially for Hindu rituals, water heaters and biriyani cookers… copper has taken several avatars.
“It has, however, always been seen as a utilitarian trade and never as a craft,” Ranade says. She visited a craft cluster in the state from where a lot of these products were being made. “Copper reflects light, changes colour, can be made dull or shiny. It has a personality,” she adds. While visiting the cluster and learning about the craft from there Ranade also encountered several craftsmen who urged her to do something. “They wanted to know what I was going to do after all my visits to their workshops with friends!” Eight years ago, Ranade decided to work on contemporising copper products on a small scale. “And three years back, fed up with relying on middle managers from corporates who were watering down my designs, I decided to launch Coppre. It was also when Facebook was catching on big time,” she adds.
Coppre is marketed through the social media site and has found a lot of takers already. Through her venture, Ranade offers full-fledged design intervention to these craftsmen. “The craftspersons I work with know the final prices of our products. Unlike other copper merchants we also do not buy on a kilo basis but on a piece by piece basis.” Coppre is supported by INTACH’s Pune Chapter and Forbes Marshall Foundation. “I work with a small group, four to be precise (Chhanda Bihari, Supriya Goturkar, Sudakshina Sinha Banerjee and Seemantini Mihir) and together we have managed to get constant orders through Facebook,” she says. Coppre emails its catalogue and the products are then shipped to clients based on email orders.
Find it at https://www.facebook.com/coppre