IF YOU’RE looking for unusual puja essentials or gifting options this festive season, Nilaya is a good stop. Currently offering traditional products with a modern twist, like the terracotta samai with a changeable base, the online portal was started by four Mumbai-based friends — Rahul Kaloti, Mangesh Rane, Ashwin Govindan and Elena Benjamin — with a background in advertising, branding and design. Their aim is to make design accessible in as many homes as possible through everyday products. They came up with products that are a part of rituals and traditions. “For example, bathing with utna is a ritual we follow only on Diwali. But because the powder has a rough texture, it is not exactly a convenient process. But with utna soaps, you can make it a part of your daily bathing ritual,” says Benjamin, creative director, Nilaya.
The back story
The collection on offer consists of puja and other household items in terracotta, designed by the team, but made by artisans from Gujarat and Maharashtra (who otherwise make ceramic handicrafts), under the supervision of Priya Patil, a Mumbai-based artiste with expertise in ceramics. “Items made of ceramic and red clay were used earlier for everyday activities like praying and cooking” Benjamin says. They wanted to revive this concept. “The thought behind the dhoop dispenser was a modak, the favourite sweet of lord Ganesha. When in use, it looks like a steaming hot modak,” Benjamin explains.
Tradition with a twist
The team, all in their 40s, plan on introducing stationery and other home décor items. “We also take orders for customised corporate gifts,” Benjamin says. “Companies can choose to buy something from the existing collection or ask us to create something unique,” Kaloti adds. And for something to be created from scratch, they would need an order of a minimum of 1,000 pieces. The brand hopes to engage local artisans to create their collections.
Priced RS.300 onwards. Details: nilayastore.com.