From British skirts to Indian quilts

AMI, new lifestyle brand launched in the city showcases bed linen with a retro twist from the 50s and 60s

Published: 28th October 2013 08:18 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th October 2013 08:19 AM   |  A+A-

Jennifer-Datta-and-Smeetha-

Remember those skirts that a quintessential English woman used to be seen wearing in the 60s movies? Be it Maria’s attire in The Sound of Music or Lucille Ball’s iconic polka dot dress in I Love Lucy, a series that ran in the late 50s – the skirt design stayed in people’s hearts for its innocent look and subtle colours. These designs are now being adapted into quilts and bedcovers by AMI, a lifestyle brand that opened its first showroom in Chennai recently.

Jennifer Datta, co-owner of AMI says, “As far as I know, this design is not being used by any other brands in India, but there is a famous retail outlet in Spain which imports these patchworks from here in Rajasthan, the same place where we get it done.”

The designs can be seen not only on stuffed blankets, but also light bed covers that are specially being made to suit the city’s warm weather. There are also plans of expanding the scope of these designs to baby blankets, stuffed balls and hearts, and Christmas stockings, all timely for the festive season, says Jennifer, who started AMI along with her partner Smeetha Guha, three years ago. Though they established their presence by being part of famous exhibitions over the years, this is their first retail outlet.

“While one can sense a saturation point in Delhi and Mumbai, Chennai has a crowd that is learning and understanding. We find that people here are now more willing to experiment,” says Jennifer.

Though manufactured by the artisans here in India, she assures that the quilts will have an authentic European touch. “We have European designers who come to mix and match the colours in the patchworks,” she says. The colours on the designs include mostly pink, purple and pastel shades, which she says are the widely used English colours.

The hand-quilted bed linens, as Jennifer explains, go through 20 steps of refinement and the entire production spreads across three States. The base cotton fabric comes from South India, which then goes to Gujarat for printing and is finally sent to Rajasthan for finishing. The end product has no pungent smell that you usually find in new bedcovers, says Jennifer. Also, since they work directly with artisans, this quilting process has given employment to ladies from 250 houses in Rajasthan.

While their philanthropic nature is commendable, what’s striking is their policy of no-wastage. The left patchwork cloth, she explains, is entwined into robes and converted into umbrella stands, baskets and cushions. This treasure from trash concept works well, and so does their sojourn to the remotest of villages to find unique art. The store includes marble artifacts, lampshades, and wall hangings, among others.

With the duo previously operating a consultation company for hotels — their eye for aesthetics has held them in good stead. “Though we do give suggestions, we believe that it is more about what you want. It is your house, your comfort,” says Jennifer. Now the word Ami or Me in Bengali, makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

AMI was recently part of the Dutchess club exhibition. The brand is available at  Silk Route, Bungalow No 14, Harrington Road, 2nd Avenue. Contact 8939031000

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