Koko Company is one of the leading manufacturers in their industry. Every single trip we take to India, be it to Mumbai (Bombay), Kerala, New Delhi or any other state – wakes up all our senses!!!
Life is forever unraveling in the streets of this blessed and inexhaustible country!
And that is where we’d like to be everyday, not sitting in our suppliers office or in a hotel room in front of a computer. We love the crowds, the smell of fresh coriander in vegetable markets, the frantic screams of the vendors. We love to sit on the floor in sari shops and watch the mirrors surrounding us dazzle with the reflections of an unfurled sari. We love to try all kinds of foods served in thalis or fresh cut banana leaves. And of course we’ve learnt to curl our fingers and eat with our hands!
All these powerful images that overwhelm us are so hard to explain, separate or classify but there is in all of them an inner beauty that always shines through. So we just let them overpower our senses. We try to keep our eyes open and our cameras ready.
Back in our offices, far removed from all the crowds and vivid smells and colors, we sit at the computer and go over the pictures again and again. We contemplate the source of our inspiration as it begins to take concrete shape: the “Rice” pillow collection! It is our own little tribute to all that we were privileged to see; to reflect on all the images stored in our minds and find new and creative ways to translate them.
Well, so it was that last march we found ourselves (Olga Vieira and Nathalia Hamid my assistant) in our favorite Bombay market – Crawford Market, a wonderful old colonial building – picking our way through stalls of fruits and vegetables and merchandise of every stripe and color. It was the mango season, especially the small, sweet and utterly delicious ones they call “Alfonso” . We crossed what seemed to be an almost impossibly crowded traffic street and continued down to Mangaldas Market- a thousand and one small booths bursting with silks and textiles. It was like going through an illuminated labyrinth of color, noise and endless choices! We passed through the shops of Zaveri Bazaar , their golden windows decked with gold and jewelry fit for gods and goddesses and turning right we were on Chipi Chol my favorite street for trimmings, buttons and whatever else you don’t know you’re looking for till you find it! We were exhausted by now but we knew exactly what would revive us – a cold, fresh glass of lassi! We made our way to our favorite little restaurant in the area, and even though they had not seen us for a year, they greeted us as though it were just yesterday: “madam welcome, your table up stairs is ready- nice cool ac only for you!” So we cooled off at a window table with freshly made glasses of lassi, and watched the rush and crush of life outside on the street. There were bicycles everywhere- some stationary, others zigzagging their way through traffic – carrying bags and sacks of rice and other goods. There were men with big flat heavy baskets, jute bags of grain, or enormous bundles of fabrics on their heads, and it was then (waiting for our “thali” to arrive!) that we began to look more closely at the bags of rice that the men were carrying – the shapes, the packaging, the elaborate prints – and a story began to take shape in our minds. A story of how a humble indian staple – rice- undergoes a small transformation when it is packaged in bags of great practical charm. A rare combination of utility and beauty! Something to remember with pleasure and work on when we got back to our desks in new york!
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