Whenever you hear the word ‘Kolkata’, what does it remind you of? Probably the rosogolla, or the Howrah bridge or maybe even the Coffee House or the many such pieces of heritage that Kolkata is famous for. Even though the older monuments and legacies of Kolkata have been the torchbearers of its renown in most parts of the country, Kolkata or Calcutta, is a lot more than these. With an emerging group of youngsters taking the lead in driving creative entrepreneurship in Kolkata, it has of late, become one of the thriving hotspots of the contemporary art and culture scene in India.
Here’s Homegrown updating you on a list of such enterprises which have made a name for themselves in present-day Kolkata.
I. 145 East
Kolkata-based sustainable fashion collective, 145 East comprises a team of visual bandits who aim to redefine fashion by including local elements from the city into their aesthetic. The company was launched as a lifestyle collective at the 2016 edition of The India Story (a curated showcase featuring the up-and-coming names of contemporary design).
They reimagined the traditional Bengal ‘gamcha’ ( fine cotton towel) by making a range of products like clothing, stationery, household items and accessories with it. In doing so, they empowered local weavers and artisans by ensuring them a sustainable source of income. All of their products are eco-friendly and organic, and more importantly, affordable. The store also stocks up on twelve chord necklaces which work so well with all outfits, and are upcycled using gamcha scraps. Some of their bestselling daily wears include the gamcha dhoti bottoms and gamcha saris.
Check out 145 East’s fashion project here.
II. Offbeat CCU
Offbeat CCU is a unique ecosystem where education, entertainment, and hospitality are blended under one single roof. It provides uniquely designed courses which make you industry-ready immediately besides providing you with options to entertain yourself after a long work or study day, with its live music zones hosting gigs, stand-up nights, quiz nights, and other programmes. Offbeat CCU also houses a three-storeyed backpackers’ hostel on the top three floors. It isn’t just a building with state-of-the-art facilities and a multidisciplinary learning hub, it’s the future of education and lifestyle in general in the bustling metropolis of Kolkata.
III. Sienna Cafe
Founded by Shuli Ghosh, Sienna Store and Cafe in Kolkata changed the way the city drinks its coffee. A two-in-one store where you can both savour some mouth-watering delicacies, as well as flip through some of the best ceramic bowls, plates and mugs, as well as aromatic oils and other such stuff, Sienna Café is the place to look forward to after a long day of work. The cafe serves homemade snacks, good tea and coffee, as well as salads, soups, sandwiches and platters made of locally-sourced ingredients with simple homegrown flavours. At first, Sienna began as a homegrown project but soon started collaborating with artisan communities, artists and fellow creators. One of their most meaningful collaborations had been with The Burlap People who make eco-friendly bags from jute in Kolkata. Together, they have hosted music performances and sustainable pop-ups in India, Sri Lanka and the U.S.
Check out Sienna Store & Cafe here.
IV. Perthro Jewellery
Born and brought up in Kolkata, India, Ritumainty Mondal is the founder of the conceptual jewellery brand, Perthro, which engages in conversations about sexuality, gender, heteronormativity, and discrimination through its unique pieces of jewellery. The brand’s intent is to break societal stereotypes and taboos, thereby making fashion more inclusive and user-friendly.
Ritumainty launched Perthro in Kolkata, India, while she was still studying in Milan and which even has an Instagram page where she sells her products. However, she refrains from calling the platform a ‘brand’ or commercialising it in any way.
Check out Perthro’s Braille-inspired necklaces here.
Check out Perthro’s jewellery based on femininity and body positivity.
V. Art Fervour
Founded by Nivedita Poddar, Art Fervour is an art and technology start-up the website of which acts as an online aggregator for art recommendations. Unlike many of the platforms available online, the start-up is driven by the motive to help people discover artists and art exhibitions and not for purchasing art. In order to do this, their team of developers, art researchers, curators, designers and marketers brainstormed together and came up with a way to gamify the process as a personality quiz. As per the personalities and preferences of each consumer, it automatically curates appealing illustrations and a list of exhibitions for them to attend. All along, it also backs them up with interesting explanations.
VI. DAG Museum
The Delhi Art Gallery’s museum initiative, Ghare Baire museum in Kolkata is DAG’s institution-building initiative, where the idea was to put aside a part of its vast collection of Indian modern art for the public and to create a public legacy through that medium as well as through other institutional partnerships. This museum of Bengal art has been started in partnership with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) at the Old Currency building in Kolkata. DAG Museum is involved in exhibitions, publications, research, and archiving. It engages visitors through its unique initiatives like ‘Museum After Hours’ on Friday, Sundays In Dalhousie (a programme for families on Sunday mornings) etc. After the lockdown, a lot of their programmes were shifted online. Online exhibitions were conducted in partnership with the Victoria Memorial; several talks, performances, workshops and even events for children took place. The overall aim of the museum has been to engage the creative community in the museum’s activities, as well as make them an important part of the same.
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