Nestled in Alwarpet in Chennai, is the standalone store of Eartheque that caters to the many applications of natural stone as an interior design element. Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Shilpa Darshan Kumar turned her penchant for the arts to a career by establishing the store in 2011.
A banking professional by education, her love for interior conceptualisation and freelance assignments for creative designing of homes and staged performances led her to seriously consider a career in interior products. Realising that natural stone products for interior applications were always jostling for aisle space in tile stores, she decided to start her store that was exclusively for natural stone products.
She hopes that her philosophy of “aspire to inspire” through her well laid out store product display of natural stone options in tiles for both floor and wall cladding, borders, handcrafted wash basins and mural options helps the customer understand the myriad possibilities of its applications. The store offers a custom solution for almost every natural stone product which she believes will encourage even a small home owner to consider the product.
Working with designers and landscape architects, Eartheque is able to offer customised solutions in all budgets of wall panels and murals in slatestone, limestone, sandstone, marble, granite, agates and quartzite. “Most of the raw material we deal with is sourced in India – sandstone and marble from Rajasthan, and slates and granites from Andhra Pradesh. Only quartzite and agate are imported. The entire processing and designs based on customer requirements is done in our factories in Bangalore and Jaipur,” explains Shilpa.
Both CNC machine cut and handcrafted options are available at Eartheque, that include delicate inlay work of semi-precious stones in traditional Indian stone carving methods in murals and borders, many of which have adorned celebrity homes in Chennai. Onyx, agate which have 12 colours, blue and rose quartz, amethyst, green aventurine and mother of pearl are the semi-precious stones that Shilpa has worked with on wall panels, table tops, cladding and washbasins that can add that extra panache to an interior.
The gradation of colour that natural and semi-precious stones offer is unique, a design element Shilpa wants the customer to understand and explore. Natural stone basins are also a trend in contemporary homes and several options are available through their store in granite, marble and semi-precious stones.
They have executed several projects in homes and landscape gardens, and one of their notable works are the wall panels for Buhari group of restaurants in Chennai. Working with the architects, Eartheque developed a fine lattice slate tile panel, a theme which runs across the interior in other materials. This screen which they are patenting is now being used across all the refurnished restaurants of the chain in the city. Eartheque’s current ongoing projects include the Mercure hotel in Hyderabad.
The store also retails the Sereno brand of illuminated outdoor planters, WP deck flooring and outdoor wicker furniture that also can be customised for large orders.
“Indians are fast developing a taste for the good life and this is being reflected in the rapid growth in the business of interior decoration market. Rapid urbanisation and growing consumption have changed the way Indian people do up their homes; this has fuelled the interior decor industry, which provides everything – from design services to customising interiors according to personal choices – all in an effort to create stylish and trendy homes.” Shilpa states, as she plans to expand her business by opening stores in Hyderabad, Bangalore and Sri Lanka shortly.
Text By Shibani Amin Rangaraj