DÉCOR & DESIGN
Baro, a beautiful design store in Mumbai, metamorphosed into an online store, Baro Market, during the pandemic. Srila Chatterjee, the founder of the e-marketplace, works with product designers, artists, and artisans to create products like this 54- piece art puzzle, framed in a teakwood tray. It can be hung on a wall after it has been assembled.
The Bombay Lettering Company’s (TBLC's) customised greetings, handwritten letters, and nameplates, engraved champagne flutes, perfumes and glassware make for delightful Diwali gifts.
TBLC, incidentally, was the official engraver and invite-maker for the Priyanka Chopra-Nick Jonas wedding.
This one is all heart: The India Karuna Quilt Movement was launched by Taruna Gandotra-Sethi, founder of Simply Beautiful Always, as a means to support women from weaker economic sections during the pandemic.
Since then, they have quilted everything: from tablemats to wall hangings to even a fabric rangoli.
Ikai Asai is known for its stoneware collection. Its tone-on-tone aesthetics and the delicate motifs that its products are embellished with…like this stoneware bottle and kulhad.
Not to forget, the Indian influences on its products (kulhad) are tweaked for modern-day use.
Luxury (Over Rs5,000)
Handcrafted brand Baaya stands at the cusp of design and artisanal heritage. Among its various offerings for the festive season is a marvellous handcrafted elephant figurine in walnut-finished wood; a Benaras mural in the royal tradition of murals painted in pre-Independence India and found in some northern palaces; the Umrao copper plates with blooming lotus, a motif that finds resonance in the lotus lamp crafted out of cast iron; a set of Lord Vishnu’s Dashavatar murals with gold accents and delicate thread work detailing; and the sculptural Zephyr lamp with rotating enamelled and copper surfaces that alternate with each other. Take your pick and support India’s artisanal heritage.
The Tutinama mirror is from the Jaipur-based artisanal décor brand, AnanTaya Décor, run by architect Geetanjali Kasliwal. Tutinama is a Persian translation of a Sanskrit collection of 52 tales narrated by a parrot and a nightingale to a woman to keep her away from her lover in the absence of her husband. The mirror brings alive the magic of that narrative with the use of rich colours and dancing paintings. The edges are painted by miniature artists. Also recommended are their eclectic bar accessories such as the Rhinoceros Beetle Bottle Opener (or try the gecko or horseshoe one), handcrafted by jewellery artisans in sand-cast brass.
For uber-luxe, such as the Versace Home dinnerware (always cool!), there is Ekaani in Mumbai or Tata Cliq online. They are an elegant marriage of Versace’s opulent decorations with Rosenthal’s sense of minimal shape and forms.
Kiki Tableware, a brand backed by the Kirloskars, is engraved with 24K gold or platinum, certified as non-toxic (tested to be free of lead and cadmium), and bespoke (no two pieces are similar).
The beauty of ruby red pomegranates and deep pink roses come alive in Goodearth’s Pomegranates and Roses collection of fine China dinnerware with 24-carat gold highlights. Acclaimed English artist Rebecca Campbell created the lush Pomegranate Tree with Climbing Roses motifs. The whimsical elements evoke orchards and gardens and promenades down the Bosporus in Istanbul.
The Bose Smart Soundbar 700 is noise-cancelling. Features include independent volume controls and an ingenious light bar. It also has Google Assistant and Alexa built in.
The newly launched Apple HomePod Mini is just what the travel and music-obsessed need. It delivers impressive sound, and works seamlessly with iPhone, and Siri.
The Amazon Kindle Oasis is an advanced e-reader with a 7-inch display, a peak brightness of 300 nits and a built-in warm light that can be adjusted. It has an IPX8 rating, which means it can withstand splashes of water and 8GB storage.
Not as expensive as the iPhone and yet an interesting gift on the luxury end, is the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3. It is kitted out with a 6.7-inch internal display and a 1.8-inch exterior display, an octa-core 2.8GHz processor, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of internal storage. The 12MP+12MP dual-camera configuration on the back and a 10MP selfie camera on the front is perfect for the Instagram-hooked generation.
Artist Madhavi Adalja creates striking resin art objects such as wall art, tables, coasters, and trays. If gifting eclectic décor objects is your thing (or a thing with the recipient), Adalja’s product range includes pet-friendly furniture and embroidered objects.
Waswo X Waswo’s hand-coloured portrait photographs depict a world we are losing forever, and are steeped in nostalgia and beauty of a more genteel era. They also evoke the art of portrait photography by the erstwhile photography studios before they took to clicking cringe-worthy passport photographs.
Pichwai mix-media art on paper by Jaypore, an online store for handcrafted and artisanal products, evokes India’s rich artisanal heritage.
Michael Kors festive collection of sunglasses spans two sunglasses and an optical-shaped spectacle with Celebrating India printed on the inner temple tips.
Paul Adam’s arty Kadin travel wallet, with a painting of leaves – from green to amber to yellow – makes for an ideal gift as countries open up to Indian travellers. This is one fashion accessory you need to keep all your documents, ID, passport, credit card, currency and more.
Anita Dongre’s silver jewellery is rooted in Indian design aesthetics (much of it is inspired by her favourite destination, Rajasthan), but crafted in her impeccable style. The Lotus Aquamarine Drop Earrings are handmade in the tradition of Polki jewellery, but without the ornateness and opulence one associates with it.
A timeless gift is Goodearth’s rani pink Bandhani tie-dye silk scarf, with subtle mukaish or metallic embroidery.
Rose gold plating lends a fashion-forward edge to these classically styled Thompson London cuff links. Buy them online on The Collective.
Emporio Armani’s classic eyewear collection for men, exclusive to India, is in the hottest shades of the season – in the fun shade of gold. The inner temple tips of the three styles feature the words ‘Celebrating India’ and ‘Special Edition’.
Lady Dior, the original It Bag which derived its name from Lady Diana, received an artistic spin five years ago when the brand’s creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri invited artists, designers and such to use the bags as the canvas. In its fifth edition, Indian artist Bharti Kher’s rendition of the Lady Dior handbag has her signature motif, the snake-shaped bindi patterns embossed on it.
The FENDI Touch is known so, well, because its gold FF buckle, opens with a touch. What we like is the minimal aesthetic and the shape – easy to carry and enough to hold all the essentials.
BEAUTY & GROOMING
Organic, sulfates and paraben-free—the beauty and skincare market is flush with products that promise guilt-free indulgence, a trend that saw an uptick during the pandemic. iORA India’s newly launched Prebiotic Skincare range fits right in. The vegan brand uses the concept of prebiotics to keep your skin’s microbiome healthy (using prebiotic-infused skincare is the newest fad globally).
Premium Ayurveda-based skincare brand Vedix has just launched its men’s range. Ayurveda is gaining currency as it acquires a premium/luxury tag with help from modern-day young Indian brands that are packaging it to appeal to a far younger audience. Vedix is one of the few brands that has a range out there for men: products customised according to your doshas (body type), with herbal ingredients such as Brahmi and Manjishtha.
Coffee is the flavour of all seasons—even when it comes to skincare. Globally, beauty brands have been putting out coffee-laced products for a while now because of the antioxidants properties of cacao beans and their anti-inflammation properties. Juicy Chemistry’s coffee-infused products are lush, indulgent and make for good gifts. McCaffine beauty products are dedicated to the idea that coffee is the best antidote to pollution and dust: every single product has cacao beans and coffee at its core.
Bombay Shaving Co’s skincare pack, powered by activated charcoal (some beauty experts say it has detox properties) has everything for a regular regime—face wash, face scrub, face pack, peel-off mask and a face sheet mask, infused with the goodness of aloe vera, tea tree oil, Vitamin E, shea butter and Keratin.
Estee Lauder’s collection of beauty goodies for the season includes a stay-in-place make-up fixer, a rose-coloured lipstick, and a night repair serum to appear your best even after the festivities are over.
What I like about Forest Essentials' new festive packs is, well its packaging. Very Indian, very kitschy, and very fun; these are boxes I would preserve. Within are indulgent hair and skincare products from one of India’s best beauty brands.
Spirit of the Brave by Diesel is a woody fragrance for men, with top notes of bergamot and galbanum, middle notes of cypress and base notes of labdanum. The bottle is quirky enough to appeal to the millennials.
Guess Seductive Homme Blue Eau de Toilette has top notes are citrus caviar, cardamom and black pepper. The heart includes Blue Coral Aqua Space accord and geranium, followed by the base of cashmere wood, moss and Rippled Sand accord.
Bvlgari by Mary Katrantzou Omnia Collection is a vibrant floral Eau de Parfum echoing the fashion designer's unbridled maximalist style. Memo Paris’s Ilha Do Mel Graines Vagabondes Eau de Parfum is infused with botanicals—juniper, jasmine and gardenia.
Who says men can’t wear jewellery? Many of the newer brands are putting out interesting jewellery for men—pared down and very chic. Anayah’s collection of men’s jewels has a sculptural brooch and an emerald-studded Elsie Kalgi, traditionally worn on turbans, which now doubles up as a brooch on a waistcoat or a jacket.
Legend Amrapali, Amrapali’s new sub-brand, inspired by deities and spiritual motifs, has a range of unique jewels that make for interesting gifts. They are handcrafted by master artisans using enamel and jadau, and are adorned with gemstones such as amethyst, rainbow moonstone, London blue topaz, white topaz, diamond, emerald, blue sapphire, and pink ruby.
Mia’s new jewels, Sway with Me, have fluid lines, inspired as they are by dance, and are in dual shades of matt gold and the brilliance of diamonds.
Vivienne Westwood’s ‘TikTok necklace’ (a moniker it earned when it went viral on TikTok and then on Instagram), sparked a renaissance of her vintage jewellery and corsets. It has also triggered interest in pearl jewellery, once seen as something your grandma would sport. Pearls are everywhere, from Deepika Padukone sporting it for a day out to Rihanna stepping out for dinner at Carbone in NYC. You could gift a vintage Vivienne Westwood orb (buy it off eBay), and single-strand necklaces from the brand's site.
Of course, if you are looking for something Indian, several purveyors are putting out some great stuff. From Hyderabad-based Krishna Pearls' exquisite multicoloured string of pearls to any number of traditional jewellery brands such as Zaveri Pearls or one in your neighbourhood (shop local is the moto for Diwali 2021).
The Jewel of Africa x Gemfields pendant showcases the ‘Big Three’ colourful gemstones – a Zambian emerald, Mozambican ruby and stunning sapphire – framed inside an 18ct yellow gold outline of Africa and presented on a delicate 18ct yellow gold chain.
Chumbak, the fun and young design brand, recently launched quirky smartwatches for millennials. Chumbak Squad Smartwatch is fun and functional, given that it is also a health and wellness partner.
It has all the bells and whistles: 14-day battery backup with 7 days of active use, 1.4’ full touch HD display along with six different vibrant band designs and 100+ watch faces to choose from.
Jaipur Watch Company’s new offering allows watch lovers to design their luxury watches. You can select your preferences from various dials, indices, hands, and strap options. You can also get your loved one’s name engraved on the dial, by logging on to the JWC website. The watchmaker will craft the timepiece with meticulous precision and deliver it to you.
If you want something simpler instead, then take a look at their Kings Wristwear II Collection, launched to mark the 5th anniversary of the original one. A One Pice Coin (the lowest denomination of British India coinage) is embedded in the 43mm dial. Minted between 1943 and 47, the One Pice Coin is 1/64th of a rupee.
Fancy gifting a Swiss watch? Here is an easy way to do it: log into Swiss Watch Company, a boutique online store for the watch company, and take your pick. The online e-store houses Swiss brands such as Andre Mouche, Victorinox, Alpina, Wenger, M Watch.