Nov 23, 2012

First Reactions to Maka Maka - our new store

Since we opened Maka Maka, our new store in Kolkata (Calcutta), India, the response has been great.  For me, it's great to meet people face to face and to get their direct feedback on the designs, the aesthetics, and the overall feel we provide in our store.  This is exactly what I was hoping for.

Design cannot be done just in isolation and only to serve the creative aspirations of the designer, is what I believe, especially, when I'm designing something also for commercial viability. So, getting feedback from our patrons about their needs and likes or dislikes is a fantastic process for me as a Designer.

It's also great fun to meet some really interesting people, who, either drop by out of curiosity or after having seen any recent press features.  New potential collaborations, new potential opportunities, and just pure "adda" (just casual conversation about anything is a typical Bengali pastime) is becoming a norm at Maka Maka!

We've had people spend 30-40min sitting in our ottomans or the red Burma teak (reclaimed) chair and just chatting with us. Of course, they walked away with a Maka Maka bag in their hands! We've had little kids flop onto our Mala floor pillows and enjoy the comfort of the soft Matka Silk! But, this is what Kolkata is known for and I'm loving this bit that our patrons feel comfortable enough to spend some time with us to get to know us and our designs and inspirations a little better.

So, Kolkata, we hope to see more of your presence at Maka Maka and we look forward to forging a long term relationship with you!

Happy Shopping!
Maka Maka

Sep 11, 2012

The Journey Has Begun...

After a 3.5 month search and wait, we now have a location finalized for the new brand that will be launched as an extended offering of all things related to decorating your home!  It is such an exciting time for us here in Kolkata as the team digs in all-hands-on-deck style to meet our target launch date!

We had been looking for an old house with some character or in a location that had a feel of a neighborhood but not far off from the main hubbub of daily traffic.  A place where one can sit on the balcony, as they would in a typical old Kolkata home, and do some people watching or enjoy the breeze from the trees around, while sipping a cup of aromatic Darjeeling tea or an espresso and biting into a homemade delicious tea sandwich!

A place where one could enjoy the relaxed feel of home while browsing through our assortment of carefully curated home decor items and some fashion accessories sourced from around the globe and locally.  We, of course, will show our own home textile collection produced locally with craftsmanship and attention to detail in mind but modern in aesthetic.

We found that place and hope to share it with our patrons very soon.  Once we finalize the launch date, we will let you know so do stay tuned.  For people of Kolkata, I hope you will find some unique designs and products of high quality for your home and as gifts and we look forward to welcoming you to our new home soon!

Aug 30, 2012

Light At The End of The Tunnel?

It's been 3 months since we got to Kolkata! I just can't believe where the time has flown by!  In these 3 months, we faced the worst summer heat Kolkata had ever seen, a miserly monsoon season with sudden bursts of rain and sunshine in no time, and now, we're looking forward to the biggest festival, Durga Puja.

Needless to say, within these 3 months, we've scoured the city to find that perfect location for our store-cafe. During these 3 months we've had countless meetings with many real estate brokers, who couldn't fathom why we wouldn't be interested in a proper showroom, and kept showing us one disappointing place to another.  But, finally, it seems that we can see some light at the end of the tunnel!

An old house in a fabulous location may be just the thing we've been looking for!  Stay tuned for more news and updates.

Yes, photos will be uploaded soon as we begin the journey to create the new identity and essence that will be a bigger extension and offering of RAJBOORI!

Jun 19, 2012

An Adventure in The City Of Joy - Searching for Location - 2

It has been one month since we reached Kolkata! Really don't know where this one month flew by.  In this short period of time, we have managed to secure a home for ourselves, a car, a maid (yay!) and the most important one, a good and reliable driver!  Yes, we need to have a charioteer to help us navigate and negotiate the alleys and by-alleys, the avenues and streets of this major metropolis! It's a little disconcerting having no control over the wheels of our own car but putting all things into perspective, it is much less stressful when we already have a bucket-full of stress awaiting us!

We have been frantically looking for a location that suits the needs of our vision pertaining to the lifestyle store-cafe.  Kolkata had some amazing old architecturally rich bungalows and houses which have been rampantly replaced by multi-storyed buildings.  It is proving harder for us to find that dream location but we haven't given up yet.  In the process, we have learnt how things work here.  The pace and agility are sluggish.  There are always layers to peel when it comes to what something appears from the surface vs, what it actually is!  However, there is always a way to get things done, may not always be straightforward!

In the meantime, we took a short trip to the weaver village to look for some new source materials, textures, designs and more.  Things have also changed there as demand for certain kinds of textiles has grown so much that the original value offering from this region, the gorgeous Tussar Silk, is now seeing a demise in demand and production!  We have now taken it upon ourselves to find a way to revive the past glory of this Silk and it's varietals.  However, it was great to see some really beautiful new designs and patterns emerge from the creative minds of our weavers.

May 24, 2012

An Adventure in The City Of Joy - Searching for Location - 1

After a fabulous tour of New Zealand and it's many sheep-filled pastures, and a quick breeze-through of Sydney, we landed in Calcutta (Kolkata) a little after midnight.  The relatively quiet airport at that ungodly hour gave us a sense of calm, which is very hard to achieve in this city of 16 million or so people.

Outside, we were greeted by smiling family members and a sultry night.  We were told with optimism that it was much cooler than other nights as it had just rained a few hours ago.  Hmmm, we thought.  If this was "cool" then what do we have in store??

The last few days have flown by like the unpredictable summer breeze.  We've looked at a few locations for our store-cafe concept and liked a few.  There's more to see as we have engaged a very smart and resourceful individual to expedite our search.

We also need wheels, and eventually, a charioteer to navigate the wheels as neither my husband nor I plan on taking up the daunting task of driving in this city of millions!  To acquire these wheels, we have engaged a very enthusiastic young man, whom I have known for a few years now and he has worked his magic.  We were treated with such hospitality and service!  His friend owns a car dealership and that friend drove a car to us to let us see it!  Now, where in the world do you get such dedicated and personal service from a car dealership?!!  The search is still on for the right wheels that'll zoom us around the city (as much zooming the traffic will allow).

The search goes on for wheels, location and more as we continue to brave the heat and humidity in this city.  I have to admit, Vancouver's gorgeous summer days are tempting me quite a bit! :-)

More soon....

Jan 23, 2012

Blocked by Block Prints!

Towards the end of each year when I sit down to design the new collection for the upcoming year, I try to explore new horizons in techniques, skills, artistry, and colors while maintaining the favorites of the current year.  This time, my sense and sensibility was filled with inspiration from not only the colors and artistry of India, but from another continent far, far away - South America!
The sights, colors, and essence of this beautiful continent needed to be incorporated in our collection for 2012. As will soon be revealed in the upcoming weeks, you will find the cool yet sensual icy blues of the Patagonian glaciers, the grays of the rocky and surreal mountains, and the spicy and rich fuchsias and Tangerines of the flora, resplendent in our collection.  Married with the essence of South America, you'll find the geometric shapes of old Indian architecture and techniques used from ancient times.
During my recent trip to India, I had the immense pleasure of experiencing how block printing is done.  This ancient tradition needed its boundaries pushed a little so we threw some very modern patterns and motifs for the skilled artisans to explore.  After some trial and error, they came out beautifully!  Never did I know that how much bad weather can affect block printing!  Waiting for days or hours for the sun to come up or for the steaming of fabrics to be completed (4hrs!) so that we could see how they turned out, took a lot of patience and persistence.
The colors used for block print need great amount of sunlight and dry weather for the true vibrancy to blossom.  Once steamed in this huge steamers, they are washed and dried for the final effect and then finished appropriately as per the textile used.  This time we've experimented with some beautiful handwoven linen fabric and I hope you will like them too.
block printed fabrics being rolled up to be put  into the steamer
Stay tuned for the reveal of the Rajboori 2012 collection in a couple of weeks!

Jan 9, 2012

Happy New Year from Rajboori

Wishing everyone a very Happy and Prosperous New Year!  It has been a while since I had a chance to write on our Blog and the reason is I have been super busy traveling in Europe and India.

Last November, I was in Milan and Barcelona for a few days.  While in Milan, I got to spend some time at 10 Corso Como and really enjoyed the process of exploration to discover little treasures. What a gorgeous setup!  While browsing, the wonderful staff treated me and the rest of the customers to some champagne and hors d'oeuvres that were absolutely delectable!
10 Corso Como

In Barcelona, I stopped by Nanimarquina's beautiful and vibrant new store and had a chance to admire their collection.  I especially enjoyed the Kala rugs that are handwoven in India.  I also had a chance to see Vincon which is fantastic store to discover some unique and interesting items for your home.
Kala Rug

Once in India, we went to the dynamic and bustling city of Mumbai.  Some new discoveries included Le Mill, Anemos, and a revisit to Goodearth.

Le Mill's neutral look and modern sensibilities in their assortment had a very European flair and it was interesting to see that their sheet sets were in solid colors.  It may sound surprising to most Westerners, but in India, the general preference for sheet sets is in print!  The earth tones were a refreshing sight after seeing a myriad of color everywhere we went! 

The reproductions of antique pieces or the re-purposed antique furniture were a delight to explore at Anemos. One of the founders was glad to show us around and we admired their beautiful creations.

Goodearth was fun to explore, especially, the textiles, china, and other accessories.  And, I do love their candles!  It was nice to see a lot of refinement in the collection and attention to finer detail which we hadn't seen the last time we were there.
Armchair - Goodearth

As part of my own work for Rajboori, we have some major plans for 2012 which will be disclosed in time. However, that is keeping us very, very busy these days, while we're working on finishing the 2012 collection in which we will introduce some new techniques and fabrics besides Peace Silk, top-stitching and patchwork.

Stay tuned for more exciting news from Rajboori for 2012!