The language of packaging

How two brands with a distinct Indian aesthetic—Kama Ayurveda and Raw Mango —pack an experience for their customers


Kama’s Khus soap packaging with pastel shades and detailed sketches, giving off a distinctly colonial vibe.
Kama’s Khus soap packaging with pastel shades and detailed sketches, giving off a distinctly colonial vibe.

Designer Sanjay Garg’s textile label Raw Mango and design expert Vivek Sahni’s Kama Ayurveda are both brands with a strong Indian imprint.

Even so, they follow a diverse approach in the way they design and present themselves. Kama does not shy away from full scale brand communication, albeit in its distinctively grand yet tasteful style. Garg’s Raw Mango, however, did not even tag its products with its name until just three years ago.

Kama, now popular as a luxury Ayurveda beauty and wellness brand, started off with making “only powders and oils, no lotions and creams,” says Sahni, its director. “We had plain, square-shaped bottles for our products,” he explains. Sahni aimed to create an apothecary feel for Kama’s products, resulting in bottles that aren’t just plain, but also come with golden-brown tin lids, a label with its name on it and product details written in minimal classic serif. Their colourful packaging started only when they began supplying shampoos and other wellness products to five-star hotels. Thus, design-wise, Kama products got demarcated. Lately, their soaps and incense sticks come with attractive sketches of herbs, flowers, and plants indicative of the product’s composition. This, in addition to the pleasant pastel tones, bring in a very British feel to the design.

On the other hand, Garg’s Raw Mango infuses contemporariness to hand-woven textiles of India—Chanderi, Banaras, Akola and West Bengal to name some—with unconventional colour combinations, unexpected patterns and tweaked designs all infused with design and yarn intervention at the weaving stage. While Garg’s saris as end-products aren’t conventionally lavish, they do carry more than a hint of grandeur characteristic to handlooms—his Banarasi weaves certainly do. Despite this, neither of the two labels by Garg—Raw Mango and Sanjay Garg—brand their packaging. “We only put the ‘Raw Mango’ tag to our garments—that too just for the sari—lately, in order to protect our products from being unfairly plagiarized,” says Garg. Raw Mango creations are either wrapped in a white translucent rice-paper, or a recycled brown paper with a silken thread or woven thread dori tying it up. This is then tucked into plain white cloth bag with green silk slings.

“I was inspired by the gaddis used by diamond merchants in Jaipur, which are wrapped in just plain white cloth. They also wrap their finely crafted, expensive goods and precious stones plainly in either white rice paper, or in recycled brown paper, and then give it in cloth bags. This is the styling I wanted to go with,” says Garg.

Incidentally, Kama too uses brown paper in its packaging. But in addition to the labels that Kama products carry, the bags too are branded: a not-too-bright contrasting golden pattern that is delicate, yet ornate. While Kama’s bags are grand to look at, Garg’s cloth bags can be recycled and reused. “I really want my things to be used differently. That we all use poly bags is a reality and they are used and reused all the time, until they tatter. The same with good paper bags, I think. We do and can reuse them well,” adds Garg.

Type Writer is a fortnightly design blog on typefaces, facia, visuals, and packaging.

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