Homes and gardens

How Indian motifs are drawing on memories for home decor

We can’t quite say kitsch has had its day, but of late designers are going a different, and very welcome, direction when it comes to prints for home décor. Gone are the Mughal motifs and the umpteenth interpretation of the lotus blossom, as patterns take inspiration from everyday life, travel and memories. “I think those typical motifs have been done for so many years, and interpreted in so many different ways, that they have become a little tired,” says Sarah Fotheringham, co-founder of Delhi-based designer home brand Safomasi. “It’s led people to seek fresh designs that are unique, with inspirations originating from a more personal angle.” We look at four brands, who are telling this story.

How Indian motifs are drawing on memories for home decor


Each year, Fotheringham and her partner Maninder Singh explore a different part of the world and create illustrated prints for their five-year-old brand, Safomasi. Like Alleppey, one of their latest collections, that is a vivid catalogue from their travels on the Kerala backwaters, with illustrated men picking coconuts, woven palm leaves, fishermen, and aerial views. “We design prints in pairs, so each has an aerial view, imagined from the perspective of the coastal birds found in the region,” says Fotheringham, adding that a lot of greens and blues were used to create a coastal feel. Another collection is Kapadokya, drawing from their travels in Cappadocia, Turkey — featuring hot air balloons, the region’s famous fairy chimneys (cone-shaped rock formations), and cave houses. “They (the slice-of-life prints) are playful, happy and have a story behind them. These images remind people of their own experiences,” she says, adding their next line would mostly be inspired by the Himalayas.

From ₹1,800 onwards, on

How Indian motifs are drawing on memories for home decor


Arpit Agarwal, who hails from Dibrugarh in Assam, always found a lack of representation when it came to products promoting the North East. So the NID alumnus launched NEST, a range of products inspired by the visual imagery of the region’s cultural symbols and lifestyles, in 2012. His ‘View from the Top’ collection of notebooks features everyday images of Mizoram’s bamboo dancers, weavers, Assam’s fishing women and more. “While these sights may look mundane, they’re breathtaking when seen from a bird’s eye,” says Agarwal, adding, “The idea is to give the user a new perspective.” He uses simple lines and bright colours to create detailed illustrations, which are then converted into digital art and transferred on to hardbound books. Agarwal — who is working on a line of jewellery inspired by the northeast — also gives detailed descriptions on the back covers, which he hopes will further spur interest in the region.

From ₹99 onwards, on, ANTS (Bengaluru) and People Tree (Goa).

How Indian motifs are drawing on memories for home decor

Freedom Tree

From its ubiquitous dabbawallas to the flower sellers at its bustling stations, few cities can compare to Mumbai when it comes to city-defining images. It is this everyday life of its people that Freedom Tree celebrates in its Mumbai Makers collection of pillows covers, bed covers, quilts and fabric. The range also features phirkiwalas and golawalas, reminders of childhood and summer holidays. “All the images are captured against the backdrop of a gritty city, where their human touch and trade gives us such joy,” says Latika Khosla, founder and design director. “Their charm lies in the wave of nostalgia they bring. The spirit is to celebrate modern India, as a vibrant design destination; it is a thumbprint against standardisation.” The hand-drawn illustrations, sporting vivid colours like pink, mint and aqua, are edged with black and white, and printed on Freedom Tree textiles.

From ₹420 onwards, on

How Indian motifs are drawing on memories for home decor


Illustrator Paul Fernandes’ Apaulogy gallery is a walk down memory lane, with laptop bags, coasters, spectacle cases, mugs and more featuring illustrations of a Bengaluru of yore. “It started from selling drawings for walls, which people bought for the happy memories, and slowly developed, quite organically, into different forms of merchandise,” says Fernandes. In his most recent work, he has tried to capture popular landmarks and locations that Bengalureans still recall fondly — whether it’s the Plaza Theatre (demolished in 2010), or iconic restaurants like The Only Place and Koshy’s, replete with bright colours and deft brushstrokes. He shares that a hilarious poster of New York, which he saw 20 years ago, served as inspiration to do something similar for his much-loved city, adding, “The paintings and anecdotes are warm and humorous, drawn from personal experience.”

From ₹150 onwards, on

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Printable version | Jan 14, 2021 12:58:21 PM |

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