I’m so excited to share the first look at this new homewares store. Just feast your eyes on these cushions… aren’t they gorgeous? They’re from NAPEANSEA a new online venture from Rohini Wahi, whom many of you will know from her blog The Beat That My Heart Skipped. Rohini, a journalist and trend forecaster, was one of the first to start interiors blogging when she began in 2007 and it’s still going strong.
She has launched the company with her mother, Reena Ray Wahi, a textile designer, who spent many years as a supplier of leather and sheepskin to most of the high street; John Lewis, House of Fraser, Whistles and Boden to name just a few. She has also supplied homeware to Toast, but her heart always lay with textile design and the beauty to be found in Indian craftsmanship.
So a year ago, the pair decided it was time to combine their skills and the result is NAPEANSEA, which is a neighbourhood near Malabar Hill in South Bombay. The collection includes homewares, bags, scarves and a rather fabulous little collection of one-offs and trinkets all designed to evoke balmy nights and cool verandahs with a gentle sea breeze whispering through the palm leaves.
“Growing up in India, I never really gave craft much thought,” Rohini said. “Block-print bedspreads, leather-punched notepads and luminous brass objects peppered my design landscape. After moving to London as a seven-year-old girl, I revelled in Western aesthetics — I would internally and ungratefully groan whenever an Indian relative visited with gifts, as cellophane wrapped clay earrings, embroidered scarves and hand-painted stationery tumbled out of travel-worn suitcases.
“It wasn’t until my adult life, and when I forged an early career in this industry, that my eyes opened to the richness of design I had access to at home. A mix of artisan workmanship and covetable Indian textiles, each of our pieces are lovingly manufactured in the outskirts of New Delhi, in collaboration with a factory run by three generations of entrepreneurial women.”
The daughter of the factory owner was at university with Reena and Rohini says the whole team is very supportive.
“Our work with them is collaborative and, above all, ethical working and support to their workers is a way of life which makes us working together all the more satisfactory.”
Now before we get to the collection, some of which you can see in these pictures. The first question I’m sure you’re all asking is: “What? Go to work with my mother? Are you kidding me?” Or is that just me. I asked Rohini, saying that it my case it would be murder. Fast.
“Oh it can definitely sometimes be murder! But the benefits outweigh any conflicts,” she said. “My mother has the strength of being a business woman along with creative sensibilities, whereas I am still on a learning curve as far as the business is concerned.
“We are learning how to respect each other’s strengths, mine based on the design industry and online arena, and hers on the business. We do debate a lot but nine out of 10 times we ultimately arrive at the same conclusion.”
There are, of course, the added benefits of them both looking after Aarya, Rohini’s two-year-old daughter.
“We are so thrilled that we took this leap – this is a proper family business now – my daughter is with us 24/7, we all get to enjoy her, there are no childcare issues, we all get to be around the people we love and have got really adept at juggling our other work around this for now. We make it work because we want to and it’s the best thing for our little family. We do have men in our lives but they realise it’s a woman’s world.”
So what of the collection? Rohini hopes it is a combination of classics with a fresh element. Hence oversized tassels on the cushions, block prints on contemporary silhouettes and the gorgeous indigo and coral colour palettes.
If you wander round the store you will also, I think, be impressed by the prices. The black and white cushion covers are £35 and the coral and monochrome are £40. Pretty good eh? There are napkins for £10.99 and a table runner for £25.
I want so much of it I can’t even decide, although I’m pretty keen on this bag below which is £40 and the padlock above which is just so fun and would make a great key ring wouldn’t it? And that’s before we even get started on the cushions….
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.