Plating up the tropics

Newly-launched crockery brand, Kika, brings a touch of the exotic to serveware

February 17, 2017 07:05 pm | Updated 07:05 pm IST

Budding lotuses and colourful toucans sit on platters and cups with gold latticed edges. Part of Kuala Lumpur-based Janaki Kirloskar’s three-month-old tableware brand, Kika, these made their India debut at a recent pop-up store in Bengaluru. The brand brings together the names of her daughters, Devaki and Mihika, while the Ka symbol in Hindi reflects Kirloskar’s Indian heritage in this global brand that’s already shipping to Europe, the UK and the US.

Kika will soon be in Delhi and Mumbai, promises the industrial engineer, from the famed Kirloskar business family, who decided she wanted her own entrepreneurial outing. Her engineering background allows her to see strong patterns, she says, and her designs are inspired by people and experiences around her — the Lotus Pond collection is a tribute to her Kashmiri husband’s inheritance, while the Tropical Paradise collection is inspired by the lush Malaysia she lives in.

In June, Kirloskar will be out with a chic gold-and-black collection, as well as one inspired by Rajasthan.

What is your inspiration for Kika?

I love fine dining, eating well, and enjoying a nice home. I’ve been hugely inspired by Instagram and creating beautiful tablescapes. It’s a rage abroad. Outside India, you find high-end tableware like Noritake and Rosenthal, and more affordable brands like IKEA and Corelle. I wanted to enter the middle space, with ‘affordable luxury’. Moreover, I love the work of American clothes designer, Diane von Furstenberg, who makes incredible patterns, and Italian designer Emilio Pucci, for the subtlety of his prints and patterns. In fact, like them, on each of my pieces, I have camouflaged my signature in the design.

People rarely have the luxury of time, to lay a nice table and sit down for dinner.

Yes, I know that! I’m a mum of two who starts her day at 5.45 a.m. But for my morning cup of tea, I choose a mug that uplifts me. Even if you are having a quick porridge for breakfast, why not have it in something nice? I want to remove this notion of fine dining being a special occasion.

Who do you see as your clientèle?

I see women as my primary users. It may be a stay-at-home mum or a working woman; anyone who appreciates style. I’ve had women from 30 to 60 walk into my pop-up in Bengaluru. The older women wanted to see what’s new, while the younger ones were looking to start their collections. I can do customised monogramming, so they make for great wedding gifts, too. I offer flexibility and can create an entire dinnerware range if you have a design in mind. I use gold because I like luxurious-looking things and because you can’t use it in a microwave (as microwaving your food is bad for your health in the long run).

Whom have you collaborated with for Kika?

I would like Kika to be a platform for young talented artists to show their art — be it in food, prop styling or design. For my current collections, I’ve collaborated with graphic designers (I buy the designs, so they are my intellectual property). I like working with first-timers because, for both of us, it’s a learning experience. The power of the internet is such that I can work across Skype and WhatsApp, and actually meet them just once. I worked for 12 years in an engineering company, so this is a refreshing change.

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