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CHICORY CHAI

Graduate of Creative Academy in Milan, Himani has worked with a number of esteemed jewelry brands including Cartier, Piaget and Mont Blanc throughout the years. But she felt an urge to find her own language; a yearning for self-expression that was uniquely hers. So she started a blog. She spoke of old memories. Of encounters that made a difference in her life. And objects with memories attached to them. Having realized her love for stories, Himani transformed ‘Chicory Chai the blog’ into ‘Chicory Chai the design label.’

No matter the distance and cosmopolitan experiences, Himani had always stayed true to her roots. Her work symbolizes the ‘raw’ and ‘rustic,’ the inevitable essence of the unpretentious rural living. Many of her designs reference back to her childhood - ancestral town in southern Maharashtra, which Himani talks of as the Golden Age of her life. Climbing trees, milking buffaloes, making dung cakes, ploughing fields and sowing memories. It is these stories she tells with each and every Chicory Chai piece.

THE INTERVIEW

What is your process?

Story is central to everything I create. Once the stage is set with a strong storyline or idea, everything else falls into place: materials, techniques, colors, mood, etc. Words play a very very big role in my designs. And emotion is the other key element. Every piece of jewelry for me and the wearer needs to instigate an emotion. It can never be devoid of emotional drama!

Why handcrafted?

In today’s day and time, when everything around us is mechanized, cloned a click away, we indulge in the slow pace of life taking in the beauty each moment offers. Therefore, handmade for us means luxury.

Industrially mass produced objects look very static to me. Like lifeless clones. I like the raw, rustic beauty that a handmade process imparts to a piece. To me they lend a soul. They tell a story of the makers and the materials. They look honest and bare the innermost secrets.

Could you tell us more about the artisans you work with?

These artisan are very fine metal smiths who have gotten some very precious crafts gifted in heirloom from their ancestors. They are Chicory Chai’s most precious jewels! We give the same respect to brass as give to gold. Because what gives our pieces their value is the precious human touch.

What’s your typical day at the office?

No two days are alike! But most of the time, a day starts at the desks of my artisans. I love to start my day seeing the progress that has happened on the designs: its magical for me to see how my sketch on paper gets transformed into a piece of jewelry that breaths! ...

Your favorite quote?

“Expose yourself to your deepest fears. After that, you are free.” - Jim Morrison

Who would you love to wear your pieces?

Iris Apfel

Where would you go in a time machine?

To one of the extravagant parties of Marie Antoinnette. She’s known to be wearing some of the finest Indian cottons of those times!

What's your favorite city in the world?

I am more of a countryside person. Ask me about a favorite place and I’ll take you back to my roots :)

All photos courtesy of chicory chai

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