My hybrid heritage spans three continents: starting off in Gujarat, India where my grandparents and generations before them were born and raised, to Uganda and Mombasa where my maternal and paternal grandparents respectively emigrated to before my parents were born, to here in the UK where my parents came in the 70s.
I grew up here in the UK, so my experience of my Indian heritage is through a Diaspora lens. When I was younger I found myself straddling two different cultures, trying to fit in without forgetting my roots. As I grew up, I realised that I didn’t need to straddle two separate cultures, but rather learn to blend them together to seamlessly integrate into my every day.
When your roots are from a different land to where you live, you find that “home” becomes a complex concept. It’s not just the bricks and mortar building where you live with your family. You often hear people talking about visiting “back home” when they go to their country of origin, even if they never actually lived there and had a house there. It’s not just a building, it’s a feeling too.
Home is a safe space, a place to enjoy, and a place where we feel a sense of belonging. And the way we decorate our homes is significant, as it charts our experiences, reflects our interests, and sparks stories.
Thinking back to growing up in my mum and dad’s house, every single wall was adorned with things that remind them of India, or things collected from their travels. Every piece had a story - whether a fond memory from a holiday, or a recollection of a loved one.
As I said before, the way we decorate our homes is significant. And I think it’s especially so when you’re from the Diaspora. Being connected to your roots isn’t a given; we have to try a bit harder to feel that connection. From the way we dress to the way we do up our homes, each choice gives us a chance to express our heritage and nurture that connection to our roots.
“Home” for me, is a reflection of identity. When designing our home, my husband Vik and I have worked together to curate something that truly reflects our family and our story. Every single thing has been carefully selected. I create moodboards, select samples and textures for each room. Of course Vik gets involved in the discussions, and he’s the one who has lovingly painted, wallpapered, fixed things to walls and even built furniture. It’s been a huge collaborative project where we’ve co-designed a space where we can feel happy and safe.
But “home” is more than a physical place. I think that people can be home too. It goes without saying that Vik, our dog Raja and our relatives form part of that sense of home. But it’s also the people we invite into our lives. By welcoming them in, we are sharing an intimate space with them. By glancing at our walls and shelves, they’d get a sense of our passions, our travels, our stories.
We want our home to feel like a place where guests feel welcomed, and perhaps even leave feeling inspired. I think that ultimately, we all want our home to be a place that reflects our roots and lets our personality shine through. The homeware pieces I create are inspired by my heritage, but they’re also pieces I would want to see in my own home. They’re intricate, colourful and unique - much like each of our lives. I really hope these pieces speak to you, and find a place in your home too...