There are some times in your life when you come across some words, designs,visuals and moments that take your breath away, with its sheer beauty so well put together and compels you to take a pause. Only once in a while.
Lai, a chic and contemporary jewellery brand,founded by Puja Bhargava Kamath, is one such brand.The love for words and design infused with influence from cultures across the globe struck the right chord with the dreamy poet in me.
‘Lai’ literally means lyrical, narrative poem written in octosyllabic couplets that often deals with tales of adventure and romance. The range takes you not only through the geographies but also across the centuries.The stories of the exquisitely handcrafted silver jewellery pieces derive their inspiration from the lands of Afghanistan,Samarkand, Morocco, Greece, Himachal Pradesh, Nathdwara and Kutch
What I loved the most about Lai was the detailing that went in conceptualizing, designing, handcrafting, shooting the pictures and writing a beautiful copy along with each theme. It was like one place where I could delve in the beauty of words, visuals and designs.
Pooja, the Founder and Chief designer of Lai- silver jewellery,is a Nift graduate. She grew up in New Delhi, moved to Bangalore after her marriage and then to Bay Area, California where she currently lives managing Lai across the continents. Besides designing Lai jewellery,she is a History buff , is Travel obsessed, loves to read, to cook and has a keen interest in textiles, architecture, mid-century modern designs and all things vintage and pretty. Lai, no wonder, seems an extension of her self.
The excerpts from the conversation with Puja Kamath Bhargava:
Share with us the story of creating ‘Lai’ brand
“Being a free-spirited soul and a bit of an adventurer, I opted to operate as a freelance designer rather than join a company. This gave me an opportunity to work across various sectors while I zeroed in on my true passion. During this time, I supplemented my knowledge in jewellery by studying Gemology. I designed fine jewellery for a number of leading national & international jewellery houses, dabbled in heritage properties and interiors (Neemrana group), designed bags under my own label and worked extensively in the handicrafts sector – travelling the length and breadth of the country to work with different artisan groups.
It was a rather chance meeting at Fabindia that actually led me to turn into an entrepreneur from a designer. About 6 years ago, they were planning on adding jewellery as a category in their stores and commissioned me to design & produce a collection for them.Eventually I weighed anchor and started focusing solely on silver jewellery which combined my three big passions: working with crafts and traditional skills, jewellery and history!’ shared Puja while reminiscing her initial days.
What significance does jewellery have in your life?
To me jewellery is a very personal thing and I feel just as a someone’s book collection is very telling of who they are & where they are coming from, the jewellery collection of a woman is equally telling of her journey in life & the person that she is.
What is the pull factor in jewellery designing for you?
I love the small-scale and the detailing that go into a piece of jewellery. My most favorite part of designing jewellery has to be the research preceding it. I love it when I can immerse myself and learn something about, say, weaves of a particular region and then interpret them as jewellery designs. Or delve into the world of Mughal decorations and architecture. Or dig in deep into the history of paisley as a motif. And then use these bits of images and information to design a collection. Like we say on our Facebook page “We don’t just do pretty jewellery we do jewellery that is well researched and has a story to tell”.
What does Lai stand for ?
Lai is about giving the today’s woman relevant and contemporary ways (in jewellery) to express their taste in culture, beautiful arts and motifs from different cultures the world over. Lai’s aim is to come up with exciting designs based on the best art the world has to offer. We also want to revive and rejuvenate some lost jewellery making techniques & hope to introduce our clients to all the various regional skills in jewellery making as we possibly can..
Are there other projects/ opportunities that you are interested/involved in?
I’m currently trying to build a crowd sourced on-line archive of traditional Indian jewellery, pre-1970s. The project is called ‘Indian Jewellery Project’ (IJP) and we can be found on Facebook IPJ .This is a project close to my heart and I’m really keen to spread its awareness across the globe.
While Puja has been busy crafting the Book markable Rakhis for the festive season, we take a look at few of my favourites from her ravishing collection..
It seems the Lai jewellery found the Silk Route very inspiring. Their few collections are inspired by the Turquoise blue domed Islamic architecture in Samarkand, tribal motifs from the bazaars of Afghanistan and floral imagery with distinctive patterns from the Moghul era. From the Persian descent enameling in Nathdwara to classic Native American Peublo Pottery, from the tribal Himachali designs from the slopes of Chamba to the colourful Kutch inspired nomadic collection – Lai encompasses rich culture, heritage and craftsmanship like no one else.
Lai’s each jewellery piece has a story to tell. Indeed.
If you loved what you saw here, you might want to check their complete collection here
Keep tuned in to know about more such carefully curated brands every week.
Stay Stylish, Always