Oh how I love a new Spotlight! And this month’s spotlight is super special. What a joy and privilege it is to chat with the very talented Vatsala Murthy, owner of Indian Goods Company.

Janice and I found Vatsala through none other than the famous Instagram. We were looking for like-minded individuals to meet and write about and we stumbled across Indian Goods Company. Of course we reached out to Vatsala and she very kindly responded. We were thrilled!  Our initial conversations were through social media, we did not meet until we popped in to the opening of Mer.  Mer is a pop up concept store showcasing Eberhardt Objects, Airbag Craftworks and Indian Goods Company.  We finally met in person that evening, and the rest as they say is history.

Indian Goods Company is an online concept store specialising in cutting-edge, functional and beautiful clothing, home interiors and gifts designed and handcrafted in India. (Read our write-up about Indian Goods Company here). Vatsala was frustrated by India’s clichéd representation in Europe and decided it was time to showcase India’s dynamic and creative side through up and coming Indian designers. Vatsala has curated her online boutique and her pop-up at Mer to perfection, representing India’s finest in a cool, modern and artist way.

Enjoy our chit chat with Vatsala below.

Tell us about yourself. What is your background?

I grew up in India, and my family moved between a few different cities until I was 18. All through my childhood, reading, designing and making things were what interested me most.  I finished school after two gruelling years that included nothing more than studying—at school, at home and at after-school coaching classes.  Learning things like algebra, physics and chemistry, things that I didn’t really care about.  A multiple choice questionnaire identified a creative career as being ideal for me and that led to my enrolling at a tiny college to study Advertising and Graphic Design.

As a result I worked at a start-up design studio for a year.  Following that I applied to study in the UK to finish my Bachelor in Arts. Just before being accepted, I met my future partner, a German student who was working as an intern in Bangalore, where I was living at the time. We decided to give things a go, and after two years of back and forth between London and Germany, I moved here to be closer to him. Thirteen years later, I’m still here, some changes and upheavals notwithstanding.  And I still work as a designer!

When did you start Indian Goods Company?

The idea for a platform showcasing interesting Indian design was something I carried around in my head for a long time. I’m sure I bored all my friends with my endless goings-on about the whys and hows. Finally in mid-2014 I started doing my research in earnest, contacting designers and asking if they’d like to stock at my to-be-launched store. After starts, stops and hiccups, I finally celebrated the opening party in June 2016.

How did the idea come about for Indian Goods?

India is a series of cliches for most people, be it regarding food, design or aesthetics. I wanted to present my perspective: how multi-faceted India is, the energy and creativity that are so much a part of everyday life there. I was looking to explore the junctions between tradition, heritage, form and function and was so excited to discover there were other designers doing the same thing. Consequently I started reaching out to them, explaining my concept and that’s how things got started.

What is your concept behind the brand?

I read somewhere that the way we live our days is the way we live our life. That encapsulates my personal philosophy quite neatly.  I believe everyday moments should be lived well, and enjoyed to their fullest. There’s nothing wrong with landmarks and anniversaries, but they aren’t the only things to celebrate. Wednesday morning is a perfectly good time to make some pancakes, if that’s your favourite breakfast. It’s this philosophy that I’ve tried to bring to my brand.  To curate beautiful objects that are thoughtful and well-made, that bring joy to your life and become a part of your everyday. My selection values quality over quantity and emphasises joy and making you feel special. What’s also important is bringing positivity and acknowledgement to the artisans making these objects, to allow the story behind each to be heard.

What do you look for when looking for new designers for your site?

I’m in awe of people that start their own businesses, especially creative ventures. What makes me look a second time is passion and the fearlessness to be original. Passion makes you do things others don’t or cant, it brings that extra level of detail and always gives me goosebumps. I’m also very impressed by the desire to bring positive social change and to make a difference. This sounds cliched, but doing business ethically is hard and exhausting work. It does, however, make such a huge difference!  Not only to consumers and producers but most importantly our shared world.

How would you describe your style?

I’d describe my style as eclectic, form-driven and minimal, both at home and my sense of fashion.  I like keeping things easy, but with a twist—be it through colour, texture or form. I like collecting bits and pieces, especially when I travel. To clarify, I’m not the minimalist with only 10 pieces of clothing and 5 books.  I like having things, but also really value clean, tidy spaces.  A half-empty, well-organised cupboard makes me so much happier than one stuffed to the brim bursting with beautiful clothes ever could!

Who are your favourite designers at the moment?

Frankfurt has some great designers!  Viola Beuscher for ceramics, Early and Tsatsas for leatherwear. I recently discovered clothing brand self-portrait and love their pieces.  NorBlackNorWhite is another fashion brand I really like. Frama Studio and Hem are favourites for furniture and lighting.  Finally,  Michael Anastassiades is my all-time favourite lighting designer.

If you could collaborate with anyone, who would this be? Why?

If it could be anyone at all, it would be the British designer Ilse Crawford. I enormously admire her talent and her vision for design.  I admire how she puts function first yet lays so much emphasis on form, material and wellbeing. I love everything she’s done and the principals she believes in.  Things she’s been talking about since the 1990s are now suddenly all so “trendy”. She believes in holistic living that puts wellbeing first and knowing who you are.  All principals that are dear to my heart.

What do you love about Frankfurt?

It took me a long time to fall in love with Frankfurt. It was the language barrier, the fact that I had almost no friends here.  It seemed full of consultants, bankers and after-work parties in strange basement bars filled with the aforementioned people (just kidding!) I have nothing against either consultants or bankers 🙂 But we were lucky enough to get to know a couple of people that started introducing us to really interesting locations, cafes and restaurants. Things slowly got better. It was no London, Berlin or Bangalore—but the compactness of the city is ironically what makes it dear to my heart. It feels like everyone knows everyone, people are quite laid-back and you hear about 30 different languages when you take public transport—Hindi included!

What is your favourite place in Frankfurt?

This is difficult! I’ve had so many favourite places over the years, which is a reflection of what’s been important to me at a certain time. At the moment, given the bustle of the week, our balcony is one of my favourite places! Sitting outside with some music, maybe a glass of wine and winding down surrounded by our (too many!) plants, so many of which we grew from seed this year.  It is something I really look forward to, especially now when the weather’s so beautiful. It’s a treat to have in this city and something I’m grateful for everyday.

What do you wish Frankfurt had? What is missing in Frankfurt?

I wish it had better Indian food! Things are much better than they were even 3 or 4 years ago, but the level’s still very low and the selection extremely restricted. It would be so lovely to have a few more interesting restaurants and cafes—these are spaces that become cultural institutions in themselves, where like-minded people gather. So I guess what I’m also missing is more of a connection to a like-minded Indian culture, which is something I have to work on! Events like the Indian Film Festival are a great way for me to re-connect and I’d love to have more of these here…

Any tips or advice for newcomers to Frankfurt?

As with any city,  a sense of the familiar is what will make Frankfurt seem more like home. Don’t be shy about making friends and getting people together—Germans tend to be more reserved than many other cultures, so don’t take this personally. Summer is a wonderful time to meet people, and there’s much happening—join a few classes, start finding your favourite cafe and hangout places and just be your lovely self! One thing I can suggest for moments when you’re feeling alone or down is to put on a great outfit and just get out, even if it’s only for a walk in one of the lovely parks or by the river. And please don’t forget to stop by our temporary store and say hi!


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