Chennai’s home design and decor brand, Asharaa celebrates Indian sensibilities with four new collaborations
A 25-year career has seen interior designer Roopa Shetty transition from being the first retailer for luxury lifestyle brand Good Earth in Chennai to spearheading her own interior décor brand, Asharaa since 1998. Yet, it isn’t this milestone that the entrepreneur is excited about as she moves into a new store at Poes Garden. Rather, it is the coming of age of Indian aesthetics and design in interiors that has her elated. “As a brand, we have always believed in celebrating ethnicity, and our constant endeavour has been to cultivate Indian craft and design for a modern context. Trends have shown that the day has finally arrived — we are no longer looking to the West for design inspiration.”
Celebrating this new era with not just a new storefront, Roopa has teamed up with four Indian design houses — Anek Taanka, Collective Craft, HSMA Designs by Anita Dalmia and Toile Indienne — to offer her clients a wider selection of designs and newer fabrics. “These collaborators are adding to what we already practice, and broaden our range of offerings. Over the years, the market has matured and has a discerning audience that is well-travelled, understands quality and knows exactly what they want,” says the founder and creative director, as she takes us on a tour of her 3,000 sq feet store — a refurbished house with a small garden space in front.
A four-room retail space, Roopa has divided each of the areas into stories (excluding her office) — that showcase the aesthetics of the collaborating brands and the design capabilities and outcomes that can be customised and created by Asharaa. As we peruse the first story, our eyes trace the paintings displayed on the steel grey walls. However, it turns out that the wall art is actually fabric swatches from the Gurgaon-based brand Toile Indienne, and belongs to The Art of Architecture line — a collection that pays homage to architect B V Doshi. We learn that their lines are the brand’s way of documenting the past — a narrative that is prominent in their choice of themes that span everything, from the Mahabharata to iconography from historian Audrey Truschke’s book Culture of Encounters: Sanskrit at the Mughal Court.
Another standout piece from the first story is a room divider embellished with Pattachitra painting. This piece of furniture is from the label Collective Craft, an Odisha-based craft and design startup. Known for its cross-disciplinary approach to design by including architecture and engineering, the brand presents age-old traditional Pattachitra for contemporary spaces by creating home accessories and accents like table mats, coasters, trays, clocks and centrepieces.
The second story predominantly features upholstery and wallpaper options by HMSA Designs that are rife with motifs from miniature paintings. Run by fashion and graphic designer Anita Dalmia, the New Delhi-based artist’s aesthetic is, perhaps, best described as eclectic and is a combination of vibrant colour pops centred around Indian iconography like lotus flowers, cows, elephants and cycles, among others.
Bolstering Asharaa’s Indian textile craft section in the next story is Ahmedabad-based brand Anek Taanka (that translates to infinite stitches) that specialises in embroidery and thread patterning using 81 different stitching patterns. The label’s repertoire includes a Graffiti Series that uses patchworked leftover fabrics to create a graffiti effect, and the Tree of Life collection, which employs rows of tiny chain stitches with aari. Also, look out for her Wind Blade collection of cushion covers and blinds, where the designer has pleated the fabric to resemble wind blades.
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