There’s no doubt that the idea of sustainable living begins at home. Reducing waste and reusing materials, the two core ideas of sustainability can easily be carried out within the walls of our houses. In India, particularly, we are used to storing our plastic bags in a larger plastic bag and prolonging the life of our kitchen containers. What would do us all good, however, is upgrading the look, essence and feel of these daily objects, all while maintaining their utility.
Upcycling or creative reuse is a rather interesting way to be sustainable and a Gurgaon-based brand, Imarim is doing it just right. “Upcycling is basically advanced jugaad,” says Maanya Dhar, half the brains behind Imarim. Her mother, Riti Jain Dhar is her partner-in-crime. At a glance, even their website has an aura that is enthusiastic, bright and playful. The products range from notebooks to trays, and decorative kettles to thalis. What seem like perfect pieces to spruce up an otherwise boring area of one’s house also double as materials that would have probably contributed to a landfill or a non-recyclable garbage dump. Home decor, furniture, cushion covers, and wall art are part of their speciality.
“We have always been a creative home, painting on glass bottles and furniture,” says Maanya. Around 2016, Riti and Maanya began selling these hand-painted items to family and friends. They decided it was then time to take it further, and Imarim was born. They have since tried to make the most of the online space, considering the unfortunate situation created by the pandemic. “We visit junkyards and pick up materials from there, they aren’t particularly sourced from somewhere,” explains Maanya. Focusing on the concept of re-introducing rather than introducing, the duo is able to create unimaginable products.
According to them, the charm is lost entirely lost if one sources new products. It also goes against the entire idea of sustainability. “Even our cushion covers are made of cloth scraps that were picked up from scrapyards,” says Maanya, and if you were to look at them, you wouldn’t believe that’s where it came from. Riti takes care of most of the painting but the creative streak passed onto her daughter as well. They both contribute to the ideation process and are able to create awe-worthy pieces in this way. Maintaining the website and keeping their social media up to date falls under Maaya’s expertise.
Trying to keep away from the usual earthy tones and subtle looks of sustainable items, Imarim chooses to take the opposite route and energise materials with bright colours and intricate designs. “We do not have a particular art form, we just aim to bring more joy without any harm to the environment,” says Maanya. Sometimes, they face the small challenge of explaining to clients that their pieces could carry defects since they are being upcycled. Maanya clarifies, “They are not perfect, their defects add to the character.” Providing a sense of depth and authenticity, these very defects set them apart from other products in the market.
It is almost as if they are proof that such products now hold more value than ever, aesthetically as well as environmentally.
Imarim offers something not many people can — the satisfaction of knowing that no one can or will own the exact piece as you. Each of their upcycled products sits far from each other on the design stretch, allowing all of them to shine in their own light. “Art doesn’t just belong on walls, it has the capacity to go beyond them and keep the environment in mind, too,” says Maanya.
In 2020, conscious consumption is something that should be on everyone’s mind. Responsible purchasing of products like home decor, among many other things, must be encouraged especially since it is available at the click of a button. Using one item in the utility of another is something we have all always done and Imarim capitalises on this fact to present upcycled products as a result of it. The difference is just that they are able to create tangible pockets of joy with it.
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