“Bringing Back Handmade”
Bidhisha Samantaray, a NIFT graduate specialised in Communication Design and Advertising, started her career in Mumbai. Having grown up with a family of reputed artists and designers, in 2010 she decided to follow her heart by teaming up with her mother, Bitasta Samantaray, and set up a design boutique store called LivingArt Lifestyles, which they lovingly call LAL.
Located in the lanes of Pondicherry’s French town, LAL showcases handcrafted products by indigenous communities from across the country. Having travelled extensively, Bidhisha realised the need to bring a modern twist to the conventional craft forms. She connected with several artisan communities who agreed to work in accordance with her requirement in aesthetics while she brought in a modern approach to the craft whether it was home linen, soft furniture or artifacts, and souvenirs. And thus was created a range of products at LAL that are priced between ₹ 50 and ₹ 9000.
The mother and daughter duo hope to bring forth and create a thriving market for those talented craftsmen who have very limited local markets or who are at the mercy of middlemen. “We are doing this for the love of craft and we are happy if we can help even 1% of the artisans in the country,” says Bidhisha.
LAL stocks décor accents like upholstery, cushion covers and a whole range of home linens with traditional craft techniques and imagery in a contemporary fashion. Bitasta has a completely different approach to her aesthetics and design and uses a lot of traditional designs.
Bidhisha is working towards creating products that are organic in nature and targeting a niche market who are sensitive to issues that cause brutal destruction to the environment and who understand and make the effort to be pro-organic. All products at the store are handmade by artisan communities.
#usefulwaste are a new range of products available at LAL, where Bidhisha had prints developed by using non recyclable materials such as nylon, nets, plastic bags or foam plates thereby managing harmful waste and putting it into good use. Bidhisha has even extended her concept of #usefulwaste to her husband’s resto bar, Umami Kitchen. The prints on the bar counter and across the wall have been printed by her.