Con­tem­po­rary in Her­itage


Ekru by Ekta Jaipuria and Ruchira Kandhari, the de­signer duo, is a fash­ion la­bel syn­ony­mous with con­tem­po­rary fash­ion fused with eth­nic In­dian cloth­ing. They re­cently un­veiled their 2nd flag­ship store in Kolkata in a pre­served tra­di­tional set­ting that blends her­itage, art and fash­ion to present it col­lec­tions.

Ekru, lo­cated at 40/1 Roopc­hand Mukher­jee Lane, Kolkata was a typ­i­cal tra­di­tional old Ben­gali “bari” which has been con­verted into a Fash­ion House com­bin­ing the old world charm of a by­gone era in the city. “It is very cen­trally lo­cated yet in a quiet lane of Kolkata, where peo­ple can en­joy shop­ping.”, shares the de­signer & own­ers of the store, Ruchira and Ekta. The 3,500sqft. store has been done up by the renowned sculp­tor, Narayan Sinha with var­i­ous in­no­va­tive and aes­thetic art in­stal­la­tions across the bou­tique. The Ekru’s cre­ations are a dis­tinct com­bi­na­tion of tra­di­tional fab­rics and tech­niques and this has been used to in­spire the store in­te­rior de­sign con­cept. Sculp­tor Narayan Sinha, shares, “The big­gest cre­ative chal­lenge was to pre­serve and re­store the old charm of the tra­di­tional house yet giv­ing a con­tem­po­rary look and feel by us­ing very earthy and rus­tic ma­te­ri­als.” The store en­trance of­fers a warm tra­di­tional wel­come with wooden pan­elling, a big rule filled with rose petals, old dic­tionar­ies and lo­tus vases. The tex­tured walls are an eclec­tic com­bi­na­tion of the rus­tic with the royal. An­ti­quated pho­to­graphs, mir­rors, urns, sketches, chan­de­liers, benches, lamps and urns are used as props to add cred­i­bil­ity to the her­itage set­ting. put's Narayan's, in­no­va­tive art in­stal­la­tions add value to the con­cept right from the ground floor en­trance where there is one called “mas­ter­piece lights” chan­de­lier cre­ated with ev­ery­day tra­di­tional do­mes­tic In­dian ar­ti­cles. Narayan men­tions, “The aim was to pre­serve our In­dian art by cre­at­ing a fu­sion with con­tem­po­rary fash­ion, thus var­i­ous forms of uten­sils, au­to­mo­bile parts, and wheel cart have been used to cre­ate such a sig­na­ture store. Lighting ar­range­ment in the store has been very strate­gi­cally planned with mute lights of var­i­ous shades cre­at­ing a drama in the whole at­mos­phere be it on the floors or on the stair­cases.” Just be­yond the en­trance is the cash counter, and on one side is an­other in­ter­est­ing in­stal­la­tion that uses a com­bi­na­tion of

fash­ion sketches and pa­per forms of women’s ac­ces­sories. The set­tings of sea­soned wood fur­ni­ture with em­broi­dered cush­ions and linen help give full form to the con­cept. The col­lec­tions are dis­played in a bou­tique brows­ing for­mat on rus­tic or­nate rails. The key fash­ion state­ments are dis­played on man­nequins grace­fully posed in royal at­tires. The high­light of the store is the bri­dal sa­lon on the third floor which is an invit­ing room to ac­com­mo­date the would-be bride and her close fam­ily mem­bers ac­com­pa­ny­ing her to have a spe­cial ex­pe­ri­ence over a cup of cof­fee when se­lect­ing a wed­ding dress. “My motto since child­hood was to spread art among the mass, and I feel fine arts & fash­ion are closely con­nected to each other. Thus this project has given a huge op­por­tu­nity to ad­dress my tar­get au­di­ence which in­cludes ev­ery sec­tion of peo­ple. So it touches the func­tional as well as the aes­thetic point of view of a sculp­tor. The spirit of sculpt­ing is mostly as­so­ci­ated with the tex­tur­ing, ham­mer­ing or chis­elling of the walls with ce­ment keep­ing the nat­u­ral look of rus­tic flavour, which added a new di­men­sion to the in­te­ri­ors of the out­let.” shares Narayan. The store is zoned in three dis­tinct ar­eas on the three lev­els to of­fer dif­fer­ent oc­ca­sion wear col­lec­tions on each. The ground and first floor fea­ture the pop­u­lar col­lec­tion of the store. The last floor fea­tures the bri­dal col­lec­tion in a grand set­ting. “The visual mer­chan­dis­ing strat­egy in the store is planned keep­ing in mind the brand name “Ekru” which means colour of the un­bleached fab­ric or nat­u­ral and this store surely com­pli­ments that feel,” shares the

de­signer-duo. With Ekru hav­ing gained pop­u­lar­ity in the cap­i­tal city and Kolkata, it plans now to ven­ture within a cou­ple of years into other met­ros with sim­i­lar flag­ship stores

An­other in­ter­est­ing in­stal­la­tion that uses a com­bi­na­tion of fash­ion sketches and pa­per forms of women’s ac­ces­sories

The op­u­lent store front has a com­pletely back open win­dow which of­fers a wide view of the en­tire con­cept vis­ually in­ter­cepted with mu­seum dis­play win­dows

Nabamita Chat­ter­jee

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