With Nidhi Kalra and Swati Gakkher Product Designers, Arrtd’inox
December 27, 2023
Welcome to an artistic journey where design meets innovation, and creativity intertwines with functionality. In this edition of the Stainless Post, Supriya Sundriyal from Corporate Communications invites you to explore the Arrtd’inox store, the flagship brand by Jindal Lifestyle Limited (JLL), envisioned by the trailblazing Mrs Deepika Jindal. Nestled in the lively Defence Colony, the Arrtd’inox store is a visual spectacle. As you step inside, you are greeted by the mesmerizing gleam of reflective surfaces, a result of the mirror-like finishes adorning stainless steel products. Our visit coincided with the festive Christmas week, casting the store in a delightful holiday ambiance.
In this insightful interview, we embark on a creative journey with two product designers of JLL. With over a decade of experience with the brand, they unravel the core of their innovative designs. Both offer a peek into the fusion of imagination, inspiration, and the stainless steel marvels they create at JLL with Mrs Jindal’s guidance.
With the adept leadership of Mrs Jindal, JLL harbours ambitions of global recognition. The vision is to stand out as an organisation celebrated for its stainless steel manufacturing prowess, creating products that not only showcase excellence but also evoke a profound sense of pride among people worldwide. Join us as we delve into the narrative of design, innovation, and the stainless steel symphony directed by the artisans at JLL.
Could you please tell us about yourselves?
Nidhi Kalra – I did my product design from the National Institute of Fashion Technology NIFT (NIFT) and I graduated in the year 2000. I started my career in Bangalore with a company that was into 18 karat gold and diamond jewellery and worked with them for about four to five years. Then I moved back to Delhi and worked with another organization that did lighting fixtures. I was heading the lighting department for them. Then I did my MBA from the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT). After completing the course, I joined Arrtd’inox. And I have been working with the brand for the last 18 years now since 2005. So ever since it’s been stainless steel only.
Swati Gakkher – I’ve done my Bachelor’s in Architecture and Master’s in Industrial Design from the School of Planning and Architecture in Delhi. And I started my career with furniture and then moved to designing stainless steel lifestyle products. It is going to be 12 years now that I’ve been designing products in stainless steel.
As product designers, what attracted you to get associated with stainless steel, and hence, Jindal Lifestyle?
Nidhi Kalra – Even back in college, I worked with a myriad of materials starting with all kinds including craft sector working with footwear and then eventually, of course, I spent a lot of time working on a scale that was that much. We’re talking mms (millimetres) very, very tiny. So when stainless steel came to me, it was an opportunity to really expand my horizon as far as learning and working is concerned. But I think the challenge of it, it’s not a very easy material to work with. I was working with diametrically opposite materials previously. So I think that’s the challenge of the material itself and the possibilities that it holds, which really attracted me to stainless steel.
Swati Gakkher – Since college, I was very passionate to work with this material. I think stainless steel is very futuristic and modern. So whether outdoor, indoor claddings or architectural facades, we use stainless steel everywhere. Also, it is a very experimental material, we can do so many techniques on it. There are so many experiments still ongoing, such as on colour finishes, surface finishes.
There must be interesting regional, seasonal, and social patterns that dictate the tastes of audience. Could you share interesting insights and anecdotes about these?
Nidhi Kalra – Stainless steel is not a very new material as far as our society is concerned. I think the material has been traditionally a very integral part of our society and has been used extensively in all homes pan India. I think it’s one of the most abundant and most populated product. In every state of this country, stainless steel is utilized and is sometimes also considered the right material to be used for certain purposes. There are a few regional patterns with regards to its usage. For example, if you go to south of India, there are a lot of things that people would only do in stainless steel. South Indians look upon it very differently. The utility is far more. It’s probably not viewed as a very or was not viewed as a very high end luxurious material earlier. But now, people consider it more sustainable and practical with maximum longevity and least reactive properties. I can’t really pinpoint any one place where it is used more than the other. I think every kitchen would find its fair share of stainless steel products. But I think over the years, brands like Arrtd’inox have been responsible for bringing it out from the kitchen and out in the open. It’s gone beyond its utility just for serving and storing something that has to be showed off, something that can be part of your living, something that can be part of your decor. So, I think somewhere the patterns and the trends, the way they view the material is changing because the way we are using the material is changing. While we’re still highly riding on the integral properties of stainless steel, which are unparalleled when it comes to of course being stainless and being corrosion resistance, it is also more sustainable.
Swati Gakhher – Stainless steel is very durable, as Nidhi mentioned. It is also perfect for outdoors as well as indoors.
Of all the options available for designing products for home and kitchen, why should one opt for stainless steel?
Swati Gakkher – When it comes to food, stainless steel is the most appropriate material. Whether it’s for storage, drinking, eating purposes. It doesn’t react with the material in which it is kept. In fact, the pressure cooker is also made up of stainless steel.
Nidhi Kalra – So there is least contamination with regards to food. It’s far easier clean. Unlike other objects, it doesn’t harbour microbes. It’s easy to sanitize and sterilize also. That is the reason why it is used to manufacture medical equipment. Now we are leveraging these properties and taking them beyond kitchen, because like Swati said, it is a great material for outdoors as well. Unlike iron or mild steel, it doesn’t require painting to safeguard it from the other elements. Stainless steel is also available in so many different forms. While it is not a soft material that is arbitrary, but not so hard that we can draw. So there is structural strength and that can be used. There is something called spring back effect. It is typically that you bend something and it bounces. For example, if we want to make a lid that fits in well. You would need that as a snug fit that you want a little bit of a spring but you don’t want a material to be so soft that over time when you use the lid versus the box it becomes loose. You want the little spring back to call it a little bit of rigidity to hold the form and place the function in place basically interesting.
Could you please also walk us through some of your products that you’ve designed and some of your favourite products?
Aladdin collection’s inspiration
Nidhi Kalra – So there are too many collections that have gone past the last 18 years that I’ve been here. But currently, what is on display and I can take you through is a collection which is called the Aladdin collection. It has an interesting story behind it actually. I was inspired by my trip to Turkey. So this is how the chain of thoughts went. It went from Turkey to the Arabian Nights. That’s how the name of the collection actually came about. There were a few things which were taken from Aladdin, which is of course the story of the flying carpet, which has been interpreted in various ways throughout this collection. When we speak about anything Persian, it is usually rich and glamorous, right. You can see the handle or the voluminous body and the reflective surfaces, the gold. All of that speaks opulence and that was the whole intent.
Aladdin collection’s Beverage Cup and the Tea Pot
This is a beverage cup as you can see. And the whole magic part of it was really brought about through optical illusion which we can see through the graphics on the cups, the kilims on the cups and the mugs. And because we’re talking about a flying carpet, so tray came about which looked like it’s floating. And you can see the pattern on the tray which is also inspired by the Persian carpets. So it’s actually a chemical etching that has been done and coated with polyurethane. I have only used rich colours such as gold, rose gold etc. So those are the intense shades that I wanted to play with. And it’s a whole mix of it. As you can see, the tray has a tactile and visual effect of a carpet on it. And these are the teapots and a sugar pot here.
And if you look at the product per se, then I wanted a product which is not too big, but it can house a lot of tea or coffee. So it’s the shape that consciously has been evolved to accommodate the ergonomics – how it’s to be held, how much it’s to be holding, and the opulence part of it. Then there are tessellations. They are repeat patterns that you see in Islamic buildings. So those are the repeat patterns which I have taken and have been interpreted in the form of emboss on the jar. So this is a jar that I designed with a scoop, which is basically for keeping snacks. So there is a set of jars and coasters. All of these basically are inspired by the flying carpet. That is my collection and just wanted to show you how an inspiration takes root and how it gets translated and takes shape. How it gets interpreted through materials, through graphics, through surface treatments. So this collection has ceramic, this has stainless steel in its natural polish, it has PU coatings.
I love the teapot and the tray. So I have used this tray as a sample at home a lot. We usually want to try out our products and see, how it fares on a regular everyday use. I also love the jar because of the embossed tessellations.
Swati Gakkher – My favourite collection is the Poppy collection. It is the serving and decorative range. As the name depicts, it is inspired by Poppy seeds and flowers. Poppy seeds have ribs and crown on them. It was their shape that inspired me a lot. I took the crown lines and put them on the platter. So these lines are derived from the crown of the poppy. I also wanted to add colour to the product so I added the semi-precious stone as Poppy which highlights the product. It also gives a very elegant and premium look to the whole product.
Serving and nut bowls
These are the serving and nut bowls. I have taken the ribs of the poppy and created these ribs into the legs of the product.
I also have this hand-beaten platter with me here. I have taken of the graphics of poppy on to the platter. This is all hand beaten. The handwork is Chittai, done by artisans of Rewari.
Also, the idea to create this collection was to make something which can be used as a decorative and serving both. It perfectly serves both the purposes.