Lounge Review | Kulture Shop & Freedom Tree, Mumbai

Bandra's newest indie design boutique and a furniture and home accessories label

Kulture Shop

Bandra’s newest indie design boutique for limited-edition art prints and T-shirts is the first step in Kulture Shop’s ambitious business plans. The company is modelled after e-commerce platforms like Threadless and Society6. Both websites curate works submitted by graphic artists from across the world and retail their designs on everything from clothing to smartphone accessories for a pre-set fee.

If all goes to plan, Kulture Shop will set up a similar, online marketplace and a global retail network for established and up-and-coming Indian graphic artists in the coming months. The brand’s creative director Kunal Anand says Kulture Shop will not only help graphic artists by taking over messy, time-consuming and expensive production and retailing processes but also showcase designs and doodles artists tend to tuck away in sketchbooks and on laptops. He adds: “Kulture Shop is for all the work graphic artists stay up late at night for, you know, after they’ve finished all their commercial work."

For now, Kulture Shop’s showroom on Hill Road in Bandra stocks T-shirts ( 1,400-1,700) and art prints ( 1,500-7,000) by over 20 graphic artists. Each artist works on the brand’s monthly themes (The Times, Living In Colour and Urban Playground for November) and falls under one of four labels. “Labs" for in-house designers like Anand; “Showcase" for established artists like Sameer Kulavoor of Bombay Duck Designs, the studio behind the look and feel of Bacardi NH7 Weekender festivals; “Select" for emerging artists like London-based Janine Shroff, whose illustration of a kala khatta gola has been successfully retailed on Society6; and “Presents" for gallery artists like Sarnath Banerjee.

We were immediately drawn to artist Vijayakumar Arumugam’s series of meticulously-detailed graphic novel-style drawings of Indian goddesses, a Technicolored print of a yogi in sunglasses by Shruthi Venkataraman and Tanya Bhandari’s illustration of an Indian wedding band playing rock ‘n’ roll instruments. But we were most impressed by the brand’s attention to detail and packaging design—each T-shirt and art print not only carries the name of the artist in print on the product but also comes with a hangtag describing the artwork, packed in simple cardboard tubes and boxes.

Kulture Shop, Hill View 2, Second Floor, opposite Mehboob Studio, Hill Road, Bandra (West). For details, call 26550982, or visit www.kultureshop.in. By appointment only.

Freedom Tree

Another store we are excited to see in Bandra is Freedom Tree, a furniture and home accessories label by Freedom Tree Design studio, a colour, trend and design consultancy by National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, alumnus Latika Khosla. The brand’s flagship outlet at Raghuvanshi Mills shut down in 2011 and its product range has since been available only at the firm’s studio inside the Mathuradas Mills Compound in Lower Parel and through other retailers.

Slick, streamlined design and bold and unexpected colour combinations are characteristic of the brand and Khosla has designed the new split-level space to resemble a multi-coloured doll’s house. There are coffee-table tops screen-printed with geometric designs, ottomans in marigold patterns reminiscent of the cult Finnish label Marimekko’s prints and teak wood tables and chairs with ombré-dyed legs in red and orange.

The same designs and colours can be found on other products for easy mixing and matching—from bedlinen, cushion covers and rugs to wooden coasters and a wide range of ceramics, including some darling cake stands and ramekins. The indigenous label—all the products, including the bolts of fabric, are handmade, handwoven and hand-painted by artisans across the country—believes in accessible pricing (from 220 for a ceramic mug and from 13,000 for a dining table) for the city’s first-time home owners.

Freedom Tree, Bandra Breeze, Ground floor, 23-28 Road, Bandra (West). For details, call 26412999, or visit www.freedomtree.in

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