Jaipur in northern India, an ancient city founded in 1727, was a bustling trading hub as far back as the 18th century. The imperial Gazette of India, published in 1909, listed handicrafts and folk arts such as dyeing and weaving, marble carving, gold glazing, pottery and brass as pillar industries in Jaipur, which earned the city the title of "The House of 36 Lines". During this period, streets and bazaars engaged in the handicraft industry gradually formed, thus shaping the appearance of the city. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2019, Jaipur still maintains its ancient handicraft workshops and business model. "Tradition" is seen as the defining characteristic of Jaipur, the city whose walls were painted pink by Singh II in the 18th century and remain so today.
In one corner of the bustling old pink city, a neat shade of blue is striking: against the white plaster walls, figures in blueprints ranging from pale cornflowers to cobalt hues weave hurriedly between the lightly draped fabric and the rimmed pottery in the corner. In the courtyard behind the walls are marble vats filled with fermenting indigo leaves, and on the walls are neat displays of indigo checkered cloth, showing the subtle changes in the color of the cloth each time it is dipped. The spacious lobby is a modern lifestyle design shop that displays and sells garments, carpets, home textiles, tableware and pottery made in collaboration with local artisans in Jaipur and using traditional handicrafts.
Created by the Ladybamford Foundation in 2016, Nila House is a design shop, workshop, exhibition hall, archive and library. "Nila" means "blue" and "temple" in Sanskrit, "nest" and "moon" in Pali and Tamil respectively. The word's multiple meanings also capture the spirit of Nila, a multicultural hub in the heart of Jaipur dedicated to preserving and inheriting the ancient Indian craft of dyeing and weaving.
Nila tries to create a unique cultural ecosystem in such a dynamic space, integrating Indian tradition with contemporary design, and finding a home and inheritance for traditional craftsmanship in this changing era and modern context.