I first saw Indus People’s products and met their founder Aditi Chaddha Batra almost an year ago; it was around the time the brand had just come into being. They were showcasing their first collection – The Source – at a Christmas Market in Delhi. The flowing lines and curves of the tableware pulled me in as I’m automatically drawn to natural shapes and textures. More importantly for me, it was another visual representation of the way neo-Indian design was evolving and maturing – one of the reasons this platform exists. In this case, it was refined minimalism in a well-executed product having a very real quality about it. I made a mental note and looked forward to getting to know the brand better once their catalogue grew. And here we are.
Navigate the story
- In a nutshell
- The basics
- Hands-on with Indus People’s creations
- Pricing and buying information
- Summing up
Indus People is a Gurgaon-based brand creating products that tell traditional, cultural stories of India with a decidedly modern aesthetic. It may sound like I’m saying ‘traditional, yet modern’ as so many loosely claim about everything under the sun, but that’s not what Indus People are about. The traditional Indian flavour comes only from subtle symbols and metaphors, and this absence of overt Indian-ness is a large part of the brand’s appeal for me. What they do really well is use familiar elements to create a package that is quietly beautiful, created with quality and finesse.
While ceramic tableware with pleasing natural shades is their main focus, they also have notebooks and tea gift boxes (kulhars + tea leaves). Between plates with flowing lines and kulhars embellished with gold leaves, they’ve got some beautiful designs that will effortlessly find a place in most modern homes, as they balance rustic, minimalist and refined quite well – which is a lot easier said than done. The collection with gold leaves (called Dip in the Ganga) will especially not go unnoticed because of its choice of earthy colours and delicate gilding, rendering a unique character to the pieces.
Pro-tip: Their Kulhar gift box is one of the most satisfying and effective gift options I’ve come across lately. It’s different, tasteful and safe for when you want to keep it simple and yet still have a certain stand-out factor. Contents, packaging and presentation are all on point.
- Indus People’s home and table products are stoneware, i.e. clay fired at very high temperatures, making them more strong and sturdy than regular earthenware
- They are made through slip casting, which means liquid clay is poured into moulds and then kiln-fired once set.
- Source and Confluence collections can be used in a microwave (but not the Ganga collection, due to the presence of 24 carat gold decals) and the glazes used are food safe.
- As a fun extra, you can use the kulhars for unconventional stuff like cold desserts and cocktails – their size, shape and design work really well for such uses. Else, there’s always winter-warmth from chai to fall back on.
- Hardbound cover with 4 colour gradient options, inspired by different Indian cities
- A5 size with 3 coloured section dividers
- 192 pages of 90 gsm recycled paper
- Available ruled or plain
Read more details about these products and our experience below in the story.
I experienced Indus People through glazed stoneware from their Source and Ganga collections. Briefly, Source collection is the one with the spray of blue, while Ganga is the one where you see the leaves of gold. In both, the soft colours, human variations between pieces and overall fluid appearance come together to communicate an accessible familiarity and comfort. I mention this because modern tableware can sometimes be needlessly ornate and lacking soul. Indus People’s creations don’t suffer from that problem whatsoever. While they are refined in their modern design, they are also human in the way they are executed. This is a delicate line to balance but the brand pulls it off well.
I enjoyed using their wares for this story because it turned out to be a fun way of thinking a little deeper about seemingly unimportant, everyday objects like our plates and glasses. As a result, I came away with more elevated experiences of simple things and activities. Of course, this was greatly aided by how organically-made the stoneware felt. It’s hard to feel this way with the standard sparkly whites.
The Source collection
The brand was different from the get-go, evidenced by the debut Source collection. The Source is characterised by sprayed blue over ivory, which is dominant around the edges. There are no straight lines to be seen, with curves representing free-flowing water of the Indus river. Choice of colour also follows the river inspiration.
Indus People offer a cup, quarter plate and bowl in this collection and they can be bought together as a set as well, making for a tidy breakfast set. As is standard for ceramics with handiwork involved, the shapes aren’t machine perfect, which is obviously part of the charm – quite joyful, actually. There’s a nice heft to each piece, especially the plate. Interestingly, the lines used to give depth and fluidity work really well along with the semi-rustic appearance to infuse a lot of character, and are my favourite thing about them. Nature lovers and advocates of slow living will dig it.
Dip in the Ganga collection
Aditi, the brand’s founder, told me that the key priority when creating a new product was storytelling through design. I truly saw this come alive in Indus People’s Dip in the Ganga collection. This is like their coming-of-age work in some sense, because there’s such a solid maturity to the design philosophy and elements, which is very impressive for a young brand in its first year.
Like The Source, the inspiration here is also a river, but it’s been brought to life very differently. The two main visual elements of the collection are the rippled surface and gold leaves. They symbolise the ripples created when taking a dip and the offering of marigolds, respectively. Apart from the visual distinctiveness this affords to the pieces, it’s a great example of using metaphors in design that don’t feel forced or obvious.
You can choose from kulhars, small bowls, quarter plates and dinner plates, each offered in three colours – ivory, beige and old rose. These colours do a great job of expressing the earthy inspiration and make it all feel coherent. Unsurprisingly, the collection has been very well received and the eye-catching gold leaves (which are made from real 24 carat gold, by the way, so you can’t put them in the microwave) are almost like a brand signature now.
A special moment of dedication here for the Kulhar, though. A Kulhar is an extremely ubiquitous part of Indian culture. Yet it has barely seen any evolution from its humble brown clay avatar, at large. What Indus People have done with it is really quite wonderful, by giving a modern spin and making it attractively versatile. Like for many others who are acquainted with the brand, it is my favourite product and design from them.
Beyond tableware: Gift boxes and notebooks
I’ve given away my soft spot for the Indus People Kulhar, but there’s one more way in which Indus People seem to have hit upon a winning formula. They’ve combined teas with their lovely kulhars and put them together in a gift box. I mentioned this earlier on as well, but this makes for a very compelling gift option. For ₹,1500, you get two kulhars and a small jar of tea in a nice gift box. Assuming that the occasion doesn’t demand something grand, it’s hard to go wrong with this option. You can select the colour of kulhar (ivory, beige, old rose) and type of tea (Varanasi kulhar chai or Kashmiri apple green tea). They have a box with just two kulhars too, if you prefer that – no tea.
The brand also make artful-looking notebooks that continue their India-inspired storytelling. Their collection of notebooks is called ‘City Gradients’, where the hard bound cover has a colour gradient symbolising an Indian city. So far, they have Jodhpur (blue), Jaipur (pink), Ladakh (sea green / powder blue) and Varanasi (saffron).
Founder’s take: Aditi Chaddha Batra
On starting Indus People after being a graphic designer:
“I am still a graphic designer. I still design and work like one! Indus People was an idea that came to me only last year. The jump from employee-employer was scary at first, but something in me knew I had to take it. I had been building brands for others for 8 years, but trust me it’s most difficult when you are your own client. There are times you’re asking yourself to “make the logo bigger” (an inside joke for all graphic designers!)”
On how they’re different from other minimalism-inspired brands:
“There has been a sudden rise in the brands that want to do/curate modern and minimal design. As far as Indus People is concerned, we aren’t just designing a minimal product. Each product – it’s colour, shape, texture, and moving forward – it’s material, is a certain way because of the story it is linked to, or the place it is inspired from. What I believe sets us apart is that we’re trying to tell stories of India through our minimal design. There are many brands that currently do so with the use of beautiful illustrations and motifs. However, our stories are hidden in the colours and textures we use. We believe there is more joy in discovery.”
Indus People’s entire range of products can be checked out and purchased from their website IndusPeople.in (click to visit).
Single unit prices: Kulhars are ₹450, cups and bowls are ₹600, quarter plates are ₹690, and dinner plates and serving bowls are ₹960. Kulhar gift boxes with tea are ₹1,500 and for ₹1,000 without. Notebooks are ₹595. Their pricing is in line with what you would expect to pay for the kind of design and quality on offer.
Indus People’s products certainly leave an impression and it’s great to see a young brand make such solid stuff. Their creations are great for home as well as gifting, with a feel-good factor to them. From their website to the packaging and product itself, everything appears considered and coherent.
I like that a good amount of thought has gone into taking inspiration from the Indian sub-continent to create beautiful objects of everyday utility. Thinking through these things in the time I spent with Indus People’s creations certainly elevated my own experience of a cup of tea or a bowl of cereal – it put a smile on my face. In this process, drinking chai from the Kulhar has become a daily thing for me now and I couldn’t be happier.
Who’s it for: Anyone looking for stoneware that is distinctive, earthy and refined
Talking point: Yeah, that’s a Kulhar with real gold on it
Best thing about it: The subtlety with which Indian cues and stories have been brought out in the creations
Winning combination: Refined, minimalist design + real, human character to the pieces
One thing I’d change: No real complaints so far – things seem to be fairly well thought out
What did you think of Indus People’s designs? Do they speak to you? Please let us know in the comments below.