Howdy! After a lovely break, some official travel and some more personal travel I am back to conclude this two part series where I explored sustainability in jewellery and design with a lovely designer Rebecca Reubens who owns and runs a minimalist accessories line called Baka . If you are coming here after reading my first post about this brand, thank you for sticking with us, if not, don’t forget to check it out here! Now let’s dive right in!
To give you a little recap, Baka is into making jewellery using sustainable and recycled precious and semi precious metals and woods in a quaint interior design studio in Ahmedabad. They aim at consciously cutting down waste and mindfully thinking, re-thinking and questioning every step in their procuring, manufacturing, packing and disposing processes and they believe that IS the only way we can even dare to dream of a sustainable living: Reimagining everything we do and believe in!
In the last post we learnt that apart from Baka, Rebecca also has a design studio which is where it all began for her. So I was curious to know more about this part of her business. When I asked her what Rhizome Designs was Rebecca says Rhizome is an interior design and furniture design studio where they try to find the right balance between sustainability, practicality and style. While she herself comes from a family of architects with both her dad and brother being architects and also interior designers which convinced her that she was all set to join the family practice, her late Prof. M P Ranjan literally cajoled, coerced and arm twisted her into doing a project in bamboo in Tripura. The rest as they say is history and he had the last laugh when he wrote the introduction for both her first and second books! 🙂 She fondly remembers him as being larger than life, extremely generous, frequently irreverent and a lifelong learner, qualities she strives to imbibe in all she does in work and life.
Because sustainability as a concept was imbibed in her much much before Baka or Rhizome, when she was in school studying design in fact, I wanted her take on sustainability in interior design and architecture. To which she spoke like a true design student – larger than life, abstract and very pliable to everyone’s perception and understanding. In her words, “So sustainability to me is much larger than any domain. I believe we are all connected and when you tamper with these connections the result is unsustainable. The issue of sustainability is to do with the environment largely in the west- because they have social and economical systems in place. However in say India, where people are starving sustainability would have different priorities- how can I tell a starving mother to save the environment and how can I expect her to do so? So sustainability means seeing different part of the elephant to different factions- and if you’re very privileged, and very stubborn- seeing the entire elephant with all of its social, economic, ecological and cultural dimensions. For me larger issues like ethics and culture Underpin sustainability because why you do what you do is more important in the long run than what you do.”
Well that was deep but you know what I think I get it. Sustainability can be what you can do better right now without giving up on anything significant. Sustainability can be going cold turkey one day and deciding that from this moment every aspect of your life is to be channeled towards the greater good. Sustainable is what you make of it. The only person who can be wrong here is the person who thinks this is non-issue.
Now all those deep discussions about sustainability drew me to another very directed and quantifiable question. What were the switches Rebecca made consciously to Baka to make it more in tune with nature? I asked her for three, to which she says they have switched to recycled butter paper for packaging because it has less chemicals which could protect jewelry better, they have recently developed an outer casing made of bamboo with Baka lasered on it so so as to not waste ink and also to make it one less material to recycle. They also do not have visiting cards at the moment because they could not find options that were sustainable enough (hey refraining from making at all is a form of sustainability too! 🙂 ) . They are also working on a design where the text is printed through embossing and laser cutting so they involve no ink and definitely no colour printing!
Again a break from regular programming here because I want to talk about this dress for a bit! Its has been more than a year since I bought this skirt from Colors and Mirrors and I have been saving it up to wear it for a special occasion and I think this festival season is the perfect Shubh Aarambh for this gorgeous Madurai Cotton piece in this lovely teal and dark red color. The top happens to be an athletic crop top from Outdoor Voices and the dupatta was included to add more color to the already colorful outfit because I felt the yellow brought out the beautiful gold and brown colors on the earrings perfectly! The earrings I am wearing are the Rhea Gold 2 Earrings from on of Baka’s edits and they will be a perfect, understated yet gorgeous addition to any festive piece you choose to pair them with.
Finally I asked Rebecca because I am so intrigued and fascinated by her journey about her vision of the genre of women who chose Baka. To this she beautifully says “The baka woman would be open to alternative beauty. She can see the beauty in a stone, or a slice of bamboo or an aluminium nugget. She would not be very loud but have her own voice even if she is still in the process of finding it. Loves tradition but loves contemporary as well- life would not be black and white for her. Very rooted but still loves to navigate the world through travel, books or thoughts- a true curious old soul.” ❤ ❤
This has been such an incredibly fulfilling couple of blog posts for me in the sense that I really got to explore and understand and appreciate a strong, level headed and motivated woman who wanted to take sustainability she has been practicing for more than a decade into every woman’s vanity and jewelry box. Making the concept of sustainability accessible to all with her design and delivering it as a jumping off point for many is just so awe-inspiring to me. And to do it all and make it all look as simple as Rebecca does is the toughest thing let me tell you! 🙂