Whether it’s a travelling pop-up that’s making sustainable fashion labels available to people across the country, or a Kerala-based initiative that’s working day and night to produce vegan alternatives to leather, or simply a collection of eclectic shirts made entirely out of industrial scrap fabric - fashion and sustainability, it seems, are moving hand in hand in so many new and innovative ways. Adding to this growing list of small, environment-friendly initiatives is Bangalore’s Oorjaa.
Founded by lighting designer and founder of The Purple Turtles, Radeesh Shetty and Jenny Pinto, the founder one of the first few handmade paper design studios in India way back in 1998, Oorjaa is a design studio that handcrafts sustainable material into beautiful lamps. “We are led by the idea of combining different kinds of waste and natural fibre to create beautiful lights and are committed to our ethos of living lightly”, they tell us.
Whether it’s a single flower chandelier with its vine-like drop lights, artfully marrying the varying shades of hand sculpted banana paper with a pinewood teak finish suspension or a chic LED floor tree lamp handcrafted from light cork - Oorjaa’s designs are unique, refreshing, and representative of a very nature-inspired aesthetic. While some are perfect for a cozy home atmosphere, others easily blend in a corporate or more professional setting, without attracting too much attention. But above all, it’s their choice of material, the handcrafting, and the overall journey of each lamp that makes Oorjaa’s products truly stand out.
“Our signature material is handmade paper from natural fibres that are agri waste, and we primarily work with banana fibre paper and lokta fibre paper. We have also developed a new material from stone dust and fibre waste that looks and feels exactly concrete but is much lighter and far more biodegradable”, the duo tells Homegrown.
The journey of every Oorjaa lamp is a fascinating one. From cleaning and moulding the fibre to finally sculpting it according to the required design, each product goes through a long process of handcrafting where every little detail is paid careful attention to. A single lamp can take up to 7 days to perfect and be ready.
Since the inception of Oorja and The Purple Turtles, the aim has been to change the way people look at interior lighting. “At a time when lighting up your space was a choice between mass-produced wall fixtures or inaccessible imported design, The Purple Turtles helped showcase the best of our own and independent Indian design”, the founders tell us. Today, it’s an eclectic store for home decor, and Oorjaa is its vertical dedicated specifically to light design.
However, trying to produce responsibly and sustainably, with the environment as the core of one’s philosophy, can be difficult in its own ways. “Of course there are challenges. To keep our commitment to sustainability and handcrafted details, the production speed and quality is always a challenge, that we are always working to overcome”, Radeesh and Jenny sign off.
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