The myriad pot-luck of Indian folk art is an enthralling subject; the vibrant colours, the unique shapes and their wondrous purpose leaves all of us stunned. Retail outlet, Baaya Design focuses on these folk tales; their display bringing us closer to the craftsmen and artisans, taking us on a journey through rural locales from all
Text by : K Parvathy Menon
Photos Courtesy : Baaya Design
In the now buzzing shopping space of Raghuvanshi Mills, Lower Parel, Mumbai, is a shop that celebrates ‘folk art’ – Baaya Design, a store where we are greeted by an unassuming eclectic display of folksy artifacts in varied colours, shapes and sizes. Here, no two things are similar; each has a different story to tell – about the hands that crafted them, about the village where they were picked from and about the folklores defining their existence.
The store is named ‘Baaya’ meaning ‘weaver bird’ in the local language and is owned by Shibani Jain, an NID graduate. Like the weaver bird’s nest, this space is intricately woven with treasures – original art and designer products; a safe haven for folk art, displayed in their unique and unadulterated form, aimed to please urban and contemporary lifestyles.
A vibrant riot in all types, shapes and sizes splashes out in a volume that is soft, warm and neutral – a display that takes you from the desserts of Rajasthan to bring you to the city – stopping by the Maharashtrian tribal villages to get you the Warli paintings and then maybe pausing in the plains to pick up the Madhubani, Saura art and Dokra work and then moving on, covering other destinations.
Baaya Design recounts these journeys and stories of ‘folk art’ which is an innocent expression of the nation’s spirit, more personal than academic or modern art. The art is never created to be ‘art’, but as a tool with a purpose – be it the baskets, weather vanes, a blanket, or just a piece of pottery.
The 1650 sq ft space is arranged as three distinct zones – a rustic corner, natural corner and vintage corner, each identified by a focused art work. Moving around the store, you realise the profluent circulation unhindered by any partitions that allows you to move freely from one theme to another. As you approach a specific corner, you don’t need a label for identification – the spaces are designed according to its theme with appropriate accessories and wall art to match.
As you near the natural corner, a terracotta wall comes alive with a ‘tree of life’ Gond painting, jalis and the multifarious décor pieces. As you trace your steps further down the room, the ‘Warli’ wall greets you to a niche full of lamps and rural tribal art. Further ahead, art and sculptural artefacts sit staunchly in a separate niche amidst their own specific décor style. The volumes in Baaya Design strive towards maintaining an environ that is inviting, natural and homely; encouraging free interaction and eco-friendliness. Apart from the artefacts on display, Baaya Design also offers a consultancy of the folk art skills adapted to an urbane life – customised folk art murals, partitions, lamps, furniture etc.
Folk art helps us connect with a life that bespeaks simplicity and unadulterated beauty devoid of cosmetics. Every object has a purpose and Shibani Jain has made it her mission to give those hands that crafted them, the artisans, a new lease of life by bridging the gap between their rustic milieu and the ever expanding world we live in.
She travels to the remotest of tribal settlements and brings to us a world so different, yet so ready to grace our living spaces. Baaya Design is the celebration of Shibani Jain’s expertise and an ethos where one can easily get lost in the illusions concocted by the murals, folk art and the environment; a veritable shopper’s paradise, wherein every wall, window and ledge invites you to browse and where one learns something new from each quirky display.