|(From left) Vikram
Dasgupta and Amit Bothra
Handmade carpets from Bikaner, glassware from Ferozabad, glass and crystal hookahs from Saharanpur, camel-bone jewellery boxes and lamps from Rajasthan. They are ethnic and much in vogue, going by the stocks that fill the shelves of the unusually named Navkar class apart showroom. The citys new home décor address on Hindusthan Road aims to change the misconception that one needs very deep pockets to do up a house tastefully.
The response from customers has been so encouraging that Amit Bothra, 34, and Vikram Dasgupta, 31 — the men behind the nine-month-old store — are already scouting around for a larger space for Navkar. All our products are one-off pieces and handcrafted, says Dasgupta.
Whats more, since the products are all sourced from within the country, the average prices are almost 40 per cent lower than the general market prices for home accessories.
The pair travels extensively throughout India looking out for products for their store. They also touch base with the craftsmen who work with them and discuss designs and styles with them. One needs to have an eye for the quirky and the avant-garde, says Dasgupta.
You can pick up some unusual items here like mushroom clocks. Large, wild mushrooms are chemically treated, preserved and then converted into clocks. then there are wild, thick vines that have been used as stems of table lamps and much more.
Bothra and Dasgupta began their careers while they were in college by working for a financial agency. Bothra went on to become a financial consultant while Dasgupta became a banker. But they decided to do other things altogether. They started Navkar nine months ago as the Calcutta outlet for Navkar Woollens, which is Bothras family carpet exporting business based in Bikaner. But they soon moved beyond carpets to offer other home décor products. Home décor is for a privileged few in Calcutta. We wanted to change that and offer affordable home accessories to everyone, says Bothra.
The duo believes that today people like their homes to be individualistic, which is why they are moving away from products that are mass-produced or imported. These machine-made products tend to look identical. One should rather look out for things that are quirky and imaginative, says Dasgupta.
Thats why a lot of Navkars products are fashioned out of mushrooms, wood, and vines. Wild vines, for example, are as hard as good wood and no vine is similar in shape to another. So the table lamps we make out of them are unique. The same is true for candle-stands that are shaped out of naturally-shaped wooden trunks, he says.
Navkar has a wide range of hand-woven carpets in both polyester and wool. Carpets neednt be high maintenance or too expensive. For instance, polyester carpets can be cleaned like any other rug used at home, says Bothra.
The carpets are tagged between Rs 1,300 (for the 2ft x 4ft ones) and Rs 7,000 (for the 5ft x 7ft ones). The eye-catcher in this segment is the Pebble Carpet, designed to give the effect of pebbles and grass on the floor. Priced at Rs 8,000.
The antique glass lamps in different shapes and sizes are priced upwards of Rs 850. Check out the Anarkali glass lamps in bright red, blue and golden. The Jodhpuri lamps, made from a mosaic of coloured glass, are eye-catching. Youll have to shell out Rs 2,950 for them. On the other hand, the wooden lamps inlaid with camel-bone cost between Rs 3,400 and Rs 4,500, depending on the size.
The glass vases come in bright colours and are priced between Rs 400 and Rs 2,000. Glamorous hookahs in glass and crystal cost anything between Rs 600 and Rs 2,500. Youll also find a variety of candle-stands — from tiny hanging stands to wrought-iron, wall candle-stands. The show-stealer is the gorgeous pitcher-shaped blue candle-stand embellished with colourful ceramic pieces for Rs 1,000.
Etched vintage lamps in coloured or clear glass stand about 1.5ft tall from the base and cost between Rs 145 and Rs 2,000.
And if you are looking for a gift item theres plenty to choose from. A wrought-iron rickshaw or tonga costs Rs 750, while a mushroom table clock costs Rs 450. A hanging Victoria station clock can cost up to Rs 1,950. You can also check out the camel-bone jewellery boxes. A set of two costs Rs 1,650, while a set of three come for Rs 2,300. Vintage telephones come for Rs 1,950 and are in tiptop working order!