Nimai, Pooja Roy Yadav’s jewellery store in Delhi, is an oasis of fresh ideas in a market brimming with traditional sensibilities. Launched in 2013 as a platform to showcase lesser-known labels with a strong design narrative, the space has since become a hub for those seeking unique, edgy and contemporary jewellery interpretations. Be it Misho Designs, known for their minimal pieces, or Studio Metallurgy’s sculptural creations, or hand-painted jewellery by Razia Kunj, Nimai’s new flagship store in Vasant Vihar is filled avantgarde voices.
Nimai, Yadav says, was conceived as a means to fill a gap she observed in the Indian market. While attending short courses at Central Saint Martins and London School of Fashion, her market research revealed that there was no representation or platform for the works of contemporary jewellery designers who were experimenting with different mediums in India. The thought stayed with her through the decade she worked as a brand consultant in the country, before committing herself to start her jewellery store.
Jewellery was a natural choice for another reason. Growing up in an aesthetically inclined household, Pooja’s impressionable mind was fed by her mother and grandmother’s fashion sensibilities. While experimenting with the latest fashion trends did not come naturally to her, what did appeal were accessories and eclectic jewellery pieces.
Yadav spoke to Lifestyle Asia about her work, new store and what makes a label worthy enough to be a part of Nimai’s edit.
I was motivated by the valuable learnings I got as a consultant. Most international heritage brands today have created a legacy based on a single product. However, there has been no representation of India on a global platform; India has forever been perceived as a low-cost country. I felt that gap could be filled.
Also, I was quite intrigued by the number of young jewellery designers who were pushing boundaries. In other parts of the world, contemporary jewellery is considered an evolved form of design but in India, anything other than fine is considered ‘junk’. I wanted to create a platform where young jewellery designers could showcase their work without compromising on their aesthetics. We started with seven designers, now we are working with almost a 100.
An interesting design narrative is key. We also appreciate designers who incorporate materials other than metal in their work – it reflects on their innovative spirit. We like to understand how a piece has been created, the extent of handcraftsmanship in it. We want to raise awareness about the fact that a piece has been made by hand – this is the only way to sustain our artisans. For any jewellery label to be a part of Nimai, it needs to ensure that its pieces are created in India. We want every designer brings something new to the table, leading them to form a design community.
We have a dedicated design cell, comprising of two designers and I am the creative director. I have always had an eye for jewellery and because of Nimai, I have interacted with so many designers with a distinct body of work. Our purpose was to create jewellery in collaboration with designers, artisans and NGOs that serves a purpose. So the Promise Bangle was our first social impact project, and acid attack survivor Lakshmi Agarwal is the face of the project.
Don’t restrict yourself. We often come across gifted young designers who have clouded their design thinking with too many prerequisites. By doing this, they take the joy out of designing. Design is something which evolves. So go ahead, be inspired – don’t follow trends blindly.
Oversized hoops and sculptural jewellery are having a moment. There has also been a drastic shift towards minimalism and multiple layering.
I am a die-hard vintage collector, and one of my most prized possessions is a pair of porcelain parakeet earrings, a gift from my grandmother.