The Morning Standard

The Morning Standard

Sister act introduces Delhi to mindful shopping

As it’s with anything, you learn to adapt. So did Noor Sethi, the Co-founder and Creative Director of the newly launched Artisan Lab in Greater Kailash, but not without countless attempts. Like a 100 follow-ups with vendors, fighting for RTI during the ceiling drive, coping with complacency, and the absence of punctuality. Life was different in New York where she studied, especially in terms of work ethic. But finally, she habituated to the ways of her new world. Delhi, and working against the clock to introduce a concept-driven decor space which focuses on slow living. 

Moving back from the Big Apple in 2012, the way people were rushed all the time, especially in matters of shopping used to surprise her. They scurried from shop to shop, without pausing to enjoy what they had just purchased. She wanted the opposite to happen. Breaks need to be applied to slow down retail and offer an alternative way of mindful shopping. So she opened her shop in Delhi, now permanent home. 

She found it encouraging that the market here cannot be generalised as a luxury goods market/an affordable products space/locally inspired one. “Every type co-exists parallelly, so there is a space for each creative business,’ says Noor. 

Because heightening the experience part of the endeavour was her priority, she wanted a brick and motor space emphasising on a personalised shopping that allowed for touch and feel of everything on display. Hense Artisan Lab germinated from this simple idea of being a part of the store experience rather than an observer from the outside. 

Whether you’re shopping for limited edition or a simple saucepan, you should be able to enjoy every minute of being in the store. This could never have been achieved in an online store. “The whole idea is to create a sensory experience, not just scroll through various catalogues online,” says 31-year-old Noor, who graduated in Fashion Merchandising from Parsons School of Design, New York. 

There’s a large in-house collection of personally designed home linen, dining, serve ware and décor. The production of these is outsourced to specialised craftsmen in Jaipur for home linen, Moradabad for metal wear, Ferozabad for glassware, Agra for terracotta, Khurja for pottery ware and most importantly Delhi for leather which makes them limited edition too. 

The floors and room of the place are interlinked to create seamlessness in architectural delineation. The glass bricks allow for sunlight to beam in brightening up the doorway arches. There is a lot of green used aligning with their eco-friendly responsiveness. “The emphasis here is not on buying so if you don’t feel like purchasing anything, just come over to the cafe and try our organic treats with homegrown herbs,” she says. 

Her sister and co-founder, Neimat Sethi, 26, is the Head Chef. “A day without a tasty meal is a day wasted in my dictionary,” she says with a smile. A follower of the Friends of the Earth theory, an advocacy group for environmental concerns, she believes in the sustainable use of earth’s resources and has, therefore, included everything seasonal and largely plant-based in the menu. “Our milk is A2 grade lactose-free. Just like the products in our store, the food at our café is a step towards living a low-impact life,” says Neimat, who did her Master’s in Hospitality Management from the Glion Institute of Higher Education, Switzerland. 

Both the store and the cafe are plastic-free. They use fabric bags for purchased items, and bagasse, a dry pulpy residue left sugar cane, for takeaway boxes, while bamboo straws are used over plastic ones.

The future for both sisters is an eventful one, literally speaking, as they hope to throw open space for collaborative events and tie-ups, the current one being with Ozzies Terrariums with an exclusive line for The Artisan Lab. Many more to ‘slowly’ and consciously follow.