The people of the North-Eastern states of India have used bamboo and cane in their day-to-day life for a long time. With forests that are replete with bamboo, the material was used to make a myriad of everyday objects. This includes furniture, containers, hats, mats, jewellery and much more. House of Locals is a lifestyle brand based out of Assam that draws from this and focuses on the tenets of sustainability, artisanal empowerment and innovative design to create modern yet traditionally rooted everyday products.
Founded by product designer Swagata Gautam, House of Locals began its journey in 2019. When she was brought in to do the event and space design for the Ziro Musical Festival in Arunachal Pradesh, she combined sustainable materials, local craft and modern ideas to create a truly unique setting; With an approach to design that is minimalist, and sustainable, drawing from nature and following the principles of ethically sourcing raw materials. This ethos and the blend of modernity and traditional technique that was displayed at the event helped her gain visibility and jump-started the brand.
In the time since House of Locals has worked on multiple events, and festivals, created bulk products for businesses and released their line of retail products. It has also expanded operationally to include more handicraft artisans and better production practices. Swagata continues to be the driving force for House Of Locals, donning many hats concerning House of Locals - from product visualisation to working with craft organisations in the state for collaboration and design integration.
The raw materials for making the House of Locals products are all naturally acquired. From pine needles to water hyacinth plants to bamboo, these materials are sourced mindfully. The team works within a circular economy model to ensure that nothing is taken away from nature needlessly, and the ecosystem is preserved.
Their range of products includes cane mirrors and baskets to even lights and woven yoga mats. Using materials like pine needles, water reed, cane and bamboo, they create lifestyle products that are sustainable and minimal. Some of our favourite pieces include the Tohfa Bamboo Bowls that were made by artisans of Tripura and can be used as everything from a fruit bowl to a table centrepiece, as well as the Reed Vessels from the Shibui Pine Collection. The collection was inspired by the curves in nature and language, plays with perception and is created by artisans of Himachal Pradesh by following an ancient hand-weaved stitching technique.
Today, the brand creates handcrafted products in the northeastern belt of India and hopes to take it to a national and even global customer base. They seek to build a path between handicraft artisans and the market and work with them to upskill, while still preserving generational knowledge. The House of Locals team trains these artisans, in addition to helping them create designs that are more appealing to the modern, urban customer. The brand also works with self-help groups and clusters, especially those that are women-led, to bring their products to the market. In a world where machine-created products are taking over, House of Locals is leading the way for craftspeople to persevere. Currently, they work with artisans in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Tripura and Himachal Pradesh and hope to add more to the list.
You can follow House of Locals here
If you liked reading this article, you should also read: