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Anuj Kothari and Valerie Barkowski

Anuj serendipitously stumbled upon Valerie’s work while scouting for a person to draw his ‘Made in India’ lifestyle brand to life. A series of emails, discussions and meetings later, No-Mad was born.

Colour based collections

Colours are an integral part of the No-Mad Universe. In fact, their website lists collections by colour. Though Valerie has Belgian roots, she describes herself as Russian, Moroccan and Indian by adoption. Likewise, No-Mad borrows from various cultures.

A traditional Indian thali

Though the concept began with ‘Made in India’, it evolved into ‘Made for India’. The brand now caters to traditional Indian habits and lifestyles including products like thalis and tea pots in the collections.

Made for India

No-Mad often takes objects seen in Indian households and adds a twist to it. The Indian kettle, often using to make a cup of piping hot tea turned it into a copper tea pot.

Slow Living

No-Mad believes in creating an environment where one is far from the bustle of daily life. The brand embodies ‘dolce farniente’, an Italian phrase which means carefree relaxation.

The Muse

Nandi, known as the vehicle for Lord Shiva in Hindu mythology, has been designated as the brand`s muse in all its elegance and simplicity.

Tales of the thread

Valerie believes that design does not exist without craftspeople and takes this line of thought forward by incorporating various crafts into No-Mad`s collections.

Celebrating skilled hands

The word Patwa has been derived from the Hindi word ‘pat’ meaning silk. Those involved in the silk and cotton thread business are called Patwas. Originating in Rajasthan, the thread craft is a part of No-Mad`s collections in the form of string closures for cushion covers.

Kind of Blue

The brand continues to remain as local as possible, hence, carrying out all production in India. Here is a glimpse of their `Blue` collection cushion cover that incorporates Patwa in its closures.

Collaborative creation

Ideas effectively translate from idea to the shelves due to an organic flow in collaboration. While Anuj works on production, marketing and brand strategy, Valerie has complete freedom with creative direction and design. With a new collection in the pipeline, we can`t see what part of the world had made its way into India this time.

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Showcase 27 Sep 2017

Intertwine: Inspired by the globe, made for India, meet the duo behind No-Mad

Picture sitting cross-legged on a charpai (a rope woven four-footed stool), drinking a cup of piping hot tea and listening to your family speak in excited chatters as they huddle around poufs and cushions in your living room. This daydream is what Anuj Kothari and Valerie Barkowski translated into their home décor and accessories brand, No-Mad. CQ speaks to the co-founders to understand how the brand was born out of collaboration and grew over time into a conglomeration of cultures.

Birth of the No-Mad Universe

Anuj Kothari grew up in Mumbai a Marwari home (Marwaris are an ethno-linguistic group) around a family involved in the real estate business. The urge to look beyond, prompted Anuj to diversify and realise the opportunity for a ‘Made in India’ lifestyle brand. 

In the process of refining this business idea, he began scouting for a person to bring it to life. Serendipitously, he stumbled upon Valerie Barkowski’s work online. A series of email exchanges, discussions and meetings later, No-Mad was born. The key to their philosophy is the idea of teamwork, as No-Mad itself was a direct result of Anuj and Valerie’s collaboration. 

Anuj Kothari and Valerie Barkowski

Anuj serendipitously stumbled upon Valerie’s work while scouting for a person to draw his ‘Made in India’ lifestyle brand to life. A series of emails, discussions and meetings later, No-Mad was born.

“Design does not exist without craftspeople.”

97% India, 3% elsewhere

Though the idea was to create a ‘Made in India’ store, over time the concept evolved into a ‘Made for India’ store, keeping as many elements local as possible. No-Mad’s product range now spans textiles, ceramics, furniture, bags, candles and even art prints

Elaborating on their 97% India, 3% elsewhere philosophy, Valerie says, “I am not Indian, but my heart beats for India and No-Mad is very much Indian. The percentages might not be right but the idea is that you cannot really be 100% Indian today. There are always some borrowed elements.” Though Valerie has Belgian roots, she describes herself as Russian, Moroccan and Indian by adoption.

Colour based collections

Colours are an integral part of the No-Mad Universe. In fact, their website lists collections by colour. Though Valerie has Belgian roots, she describes herself as Russian, Moroccan and Indian by adoption. Likewise, No-Mad borrows from various cultures.

A traditional Indian thali

Though the concept began with ‘Made in India’, it evolved into ‘Made for India’. The brand now caters to traditional Indian habits and lifestyles including products like thalis and tea pots in the collections.

Likewise, No-Mad too borrows from various cultures. In fact, Valerie often documents this journey of designing the collections and gives us a behind-the-scenes peek on the No-Mad blog, where she shares various mood-boards and most recently, even posted a photo shoot playlist.

Made for India

No-Mad often takes objects seen in Indian households and adds a twist to it. The Indian kettle, often using to make a cup of piping hot tea turned it into a copper tea pot.

Slow Living

No-Mad believes in creating an environment where one is far from the bustle of daily life. The brand embodies ‘dolce farniente’, an Italian phrase which means carefree relaxation.

“I am not Indian, but my heart beats for India and No-Mad is very much Indian.”

Creating for India 

Though the brand wanders far from the India to seek inspiration, its essence remains rooted. For instance, while working with Indian wax prints that borrow from traditional African wax prints – an essential form of nonverbal communication among African women to carry their messages out into the world – Valerie was sure she wanted an Indian twist. The patterns now adorn motifs from everyday life in India like prints inspired by the tiles of streets in Mumbai, local currency and bindis.

The Muse

Nandi, known as the vehicle for Lord Shiva in Hindu mythology, has been designated as the brand`s muse in all its elegance and simplicity.

In fact, Nandi, known as the vehicle for Lord Shiva in Hindu mythology has been designated as the brand’s muse and mascot, often making its way into their collections. 

Developed to cater to traditional Indian habits and lifestyle, the products include tea pots, thalis (a metal plate on which Indian food is served) and moodhas (a low woven stool). Also, since the brand continues to try and remain as local as possible, all No-Mad’s production is carried out in India. 

Tales of the thread

Valerie believes that design does not exist without craftspeople and takes this line of thought forward by incorporating various crafts into No-Mad`s collections.

Celebrating skilled hands

The word Patwa has been derived from the Hindi word ‘pat’ meaning silk. Those involved in the silk and cotton thread business are called Patwas. Originating in Rajasthan, the thread craft is a part of No-Mad`s collections in the form of string closures for cushion covers.

“The percentages might not be right but the idea is that you cannot really be 100% Indian today. There are always some borrowed elements.”

Woven in Traditional Crafts

After working with various crafts for over 20 years, Valerie, the Creative Director at No-Mad maintains, “Design does not exist without craftspeople.” And therefore, No-Mad collaborates with craftspeople across India to translate their traditions into collections. 

Kind of Blue

The brand continues to remain as local as possible, hence, carrying out all production in India. Here is a glimpse of their `Blue` collection cushion cover that incorporates Patwa in its closures.

An example is Patwa, which is a thread craft from Rajasthan that makes its way into No-Mad’s cushion covers as string closures and furniture in the form of moodhas. For cushion covers Jaya, the idea was to work with vegetable dyes so they chose linen, a fabric that magnifies colours and absorbs the dye well. The fabric is pinched and folded using clamps in order to create square patterns before it is dipped in the dye. Often at No-Mad the collections are a combination of colour and pattern while the material mostly oscillates between cotton and linen.

What lies ahead on No-Mad’s journey?

Of course, association and cooperation are indispensable with a brand such as No-Mad. After working with each other for years, the dialogue between the two founding minds and the people who create their pieces has become organic and the flow, seamless. With each one bringing complementary skills to the table, collections effectively translate from ideas to shelves. If you too like us were wondering what’s next for No-Mad, stay glued to their website for a possible collection launch soon.

Collaborative creation

Ideas effectively translate from idea to the shelves due to an organic flow in collaboration. While Anuj works on production, marketing and brand strategy, Valerie has complete freedom with creative direction and design. With a new collection in the pipeline, we can`t see what part of the world had made its way into India this time.

Stay tuned to No-Mad’s website for updates on their latest collections.
Follow them on Instagram for behind the scenes glimpses.