How This Jewellery Collection Is An Ode To The Historic Resilience Of The Sindhi Community

How This Jewellery Collection Is An Ode To The Historic Resilience Of The Sindhi Community
Roma Narsinghani

If you are someone who even remotely loves fashion and is moderately online like most people are in this day and age, chances are that you'd hear the name ‘Roma Narsinghani’ and an image of gorgeously adorned hair bun accessories with structural elements would come to mind.

From a passionate fashion student to becoming a renowned conceptual jewellery designer,Roma Narsinghani took the academic route and learned the nuances of design deeply, during her stint at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design and the Istituto Marangoni.

The many aspects of fashion that she learnt during this academic journey, specifically looking at socio-cultural factors within her and around her, have helped her create jewellery in a truly authentic way. Each piece from the designer is suffused with meaning, and the larger collection is weaved together with an overarching narrative and is truly original.

L: Seero Hoops, Rabdicuffs
R: Gaach hair-tie
L: Seero Hoops, Rabdicuffs R: Gaach hair-tieRoma Narsinghani

From Intangible Concepts To Inspired Design Objects

The way Roma perceives the world and the way she draws on her childhood memories to translate them into design elements is something truly incredible.

Roma’s latest collection Lola & Koki, which she has named after her parents, is an exploration of her native culture in a way that feels true to her. One of the central aspects of her collection is the fact that both of Roma’s parents have twin siblings. The bond she grew up witnessing is referenced subtly through the products and evidently through the photographs. The inclusion of this inimitable bond in the collection is somehow able to bring a sense of familial warmth to the campaign.

While many designers would love simplify the concept of personal identity, it is a hard feat to achieve in reality. And when you add in aspects of being diasporic and of hailing from a community that has undergone upheavals and migration, it becomes even more complex. For someone like Roma who knew of her native Sindhi culture only through stories while growing up in Kuwait, what remained were bits and pieces.

In a feature with Grazia India, she explained that “Sindhi culture like any other, is diverse and multi-faceted, with individuals who have a wide range of beliefs, values, and lifestyles. But for me, what had survived was the food, the song Ho Jamalo and a few Sindhi customs.”

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Trying to explain how she translates intangible concepts and values into design objects, Roma shared anecdotes. An early memory that stands out for her is of growing up in Kuwait and listening to stories. “I recall sitting with my dad and mom — listening to their stories of resilience, whether it was the Gulf War or my grandparents moving to India during the partition," explains Roma.

These stories sparked my imagination and instilled in me a deep appreciation for their values of resilience, unity, and celebration — these intangible stories have been woven throughout the collection using shapes.”

How Inspiration and Collaborations Lead To Innovation

The Lola & Koki collection is also inspired by the many historic literature, folk music, dance, and traditional crafts that Roma discovered, in her pursuit to better understand her heritage. The stories that spoke of resilience and the power of having an enduring spirit that is woven through these is what truly stood out to Roma on this journey, and became the central concept of this collection that speaks to/of the global Sindhi diaspora.

Through Lola & Koki, she not only depicts her cultural exploration as a concept but also takes it a step further by using resilient, eco-friendly material such as the bio-beads developed in collaboration with New York-based sustainable materials researcher and bio-material designer Aradhita Parasrampuria, in her continued dedication to the cause of eco-consciousness.

⁠The integration of algae beads as a sustainable material in her pieces is innovative, yet conscious. The collaboration between the creatives began with comprehensive discussions that dove into the properties of algae and their potential to be a sustainable material to craft jewellery.

The collaboration with Aradhita to develop the material and craft pieces featuring them was an eye-opening experience for her. While there were several stages to the process, Roma spoke of how Aradhita's expertise in bio-materials provided invaluable insights into the composition, and durability required to create high-quality algae beads that are biodegradable.

She went on to say, “Aradhita’s innovative approach challenged us to think beyond conventional materials and design techniques, inspiring us to explore new possibilities for sustainable jewellery design. The incorporation of algae beads not only added a unique and environmentally friendly element to our pieces but further sparked conversations about the importance of sustainable practices within the fashion industry at our office and home.”

She also mentioned how the collaboration prompted her to reassess her labels’ overall approach towards the sourcing of beads and its production. , “It encouraged us to further prioritise ethical practices throughout the entire supply chain for all our sourced material. It has indeed been a meticulous, enlightening process,” says Roma.

How This Jewellery Collection Is An Ode To The Historic Resilience Of The Sindhi Community
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Resilience Captured in Design

Reminiscing about her community and the many emotions and characteristics that weave through their history, she let in on how those elements get translated into pieces by substantiating how she looks at values and sees them in her unique, creative perspective of structures, motifs and symbols such as, “In hearing these stories I’d think of a rising heart for courage, falcon symbolising freedom and the ability to navigate life's challenges.

I think of how geometric motifs juxtaposed can be used to depict the inevitable ups and downs of life.” She also added about very culturally rooted elements that she has brought into the fold in this journey of exploring her multifaceted identity and mentioned using the moon to represent the Cheti Chand Festival, which marks the arrival of spring and is also the start of the New Year for Sindhi Hindus.

Since Lola & Koki is a collection of talismans embodying dreams intertwined with cultural identity, each piece has been crafted with forethought and suffused with meaning. In being asked to share the story behind a singular piece, Roma mentioned the Rising Heart Pendant from Lola & Koki.

Crafted from eco brass and featuring an algae heart bead, the pendant is one that the designer thinks is a homage to courage, strength, and the deep love we have for our family. But as is usually the case, there is more to the piece than meets the eye. According to Roma, “The intricate lines/rays engraved on the eco brass of this pendant are inspired by a stone carving on the wall of Umerkot Fort in Sindh, reflecting both the beauty of the carving and the resilience passed down through generations in my family.”

Almost all the pieces in the collection are crafted from eco brass with a gold finish, as an intentional homage to the Sindhi community’s renowned affinity for gold, while minimising its overall environmental impact.

As someone whose work is deeply influenced by her identity, Roma thinks that her designs serve as a canvas for both her personal journey, as well as a way for her to offer a glimpse into the beauty and resilience of her community to a wider audience. Roma thinks that her capability to blend tradition with her unique perspective,while featuring motifs that reflect different phases of her life, she can share interpretations of Sindh and of being Sindhi.

While she could go on forever about the story behind each piece in the collection, she concluded, “Through sharing my experiences and inspirations, I hope to offer a glimpse into the beauty and resilience of us Sindhi’s to a wider audience. It's my way of honouring my roots and contributing to a more diverse and inclusive representation of cultural identities in the global fashion community.”

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Shop the collection here.