India-inspired art for the world: India Circus’ evolving design philosophy
As Godrej-owned India Circus shifts gears, Founder and Executive Director Krsnaa Mehta shares insights on the lifestyle brand’s evolution with YS Life.
Krsnaa Mehta, Designer of The Bombay Store and GoodEarth, is counted among those who defined the ‘quirky’ movement in India in the 2010s.
“Back then, there was nothing that you could proudly ‘gift’ as a piece of your country… I essentially wanted to make a difference in the contemporary Indian space that was and has remained my mission,” Mehta tells YS Life during a conversation.
However, “Now, I have moved on. There is a vast range of design ideas and thoughts, and I have sort of left the quirky movement to younger brands that are coming up now,” adds the founder and executive director of India Circus—a Mumbai-based lifestyle brand launched in 2012 that incorporates Indian pop art into decor and gifting.
India at its core
One glimpse at the India Circus website or a short trip to one of its 16 stores is enough for the onlooker to realise that the brand does not play safe. In a world obsessed with minimalism and subtlety, Mehta’s designs stand vibrant and bold.
“My father used to say that we are like jewellery on someone’s body. We are the accessories that make your otherwise minimalist space stand out,” he explains the brand’s philosophy.
In the last 11 years, India Circus has sought inspiration from architecture, flora and fauna, scenery, handicrafts, and historic art forms. “Our designs have been inspired by the very things that exist in India.”
Having said that, the brand has and continues to evolve its design philosophy. “The fuschia, teal green, and aqua greens are going to be there, but now the brand will see a lot more of classic tones and pastel colours,” Mehta reveals.
The India Circus cushion covers focus more on softer fabrics—cotton, cotton poplin, blended linen, cotton linen, and velvet—which start from Rs 370 and go up to Rs 1,599. Its dinner sets are priced at Rs 14,599, while the carpets cost Rs 5,999.
An alumnus of Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, Mehta first interned at the design department of his family-owned textile brand, Zeba.
Mehta realised people enjoyed his work when Bloomingdales, a US-based luxury department store chain, shortlisted one of his designs for a large 30,000-piece order.
Over the years, he has been associated with GoodEarth, The Elephant Company, The Bombay Store, Westside, and Celio, before he took the entrepreneurial plunge.
“I always believed in the business of fast fashion and affordable luxury—great design, great quality, and at great value. I wanted to create a brand that would do that. I wanted to take Indian contemporary to the world.”
In less than a year after launching India Circus, Mehta received investment from Navroze Godrej, Head (Strategy and Innovation), Godrej and Boyce. By December 2015, the Godrej Group had acquired a controlling stake in the brand.
“We do not want to be stuck with the same designs for a longer period of time. We have the ability and creativity to create more designs now,” he adds.
Initially launching designs and products across segments, Mehta is now focusing on the money-generating categories. India Circus is moving away from the little accessories that “waste money, time, and warehouse space,” including keychains, wallets, fridge magnets, and fashion bags.
At present, the brand is concentrating on home decor and dining—textiles, crockery, and copperware. “These are the success category products,” Mehta adds.
Meanwhile, the brand also receives requests to make its designs available in clothing and apparel. “For that, we need to appoint a licensing partner—a brand already doing well and can take our designs and sell quality fashion items. But until then, there’s no point in getting into clothing,” he clarifies.
Over the years, Mehta’s designs have been copied by many local brands. “I used to initially get very angry, but as the saying goes—imitation is the best form of flattery!”
However, the most surprising copyright issue case has been with wedding card designers and vendors. “We cannot track them, and wedding cards don’t hurt our business either. So again, it’s a compliment!” he adds.
The designer is excited to launch crockery sets in collaboration with one of India’s largest manufacturers and also join hands with a watch brand.
India Circus is also betting big on wall art. “We are getting into high-ticket items, especially in the furniture segment, since we have had success with our benches, stools, folding tables, and breakfast trays,” Mehta says.
(Disclaimer: The article was updated to fix a factual error)
Edited by Suman Singh