Lifestyle & Living

Home for the heart

India’s big boom in the interior décor space to meet the exploding rise of home ownership options, has created fertile ground for creative décor styling designers. Latika Khosla of Freedom Tree orchestrates her design-meets-utility acumen to create a unique personalized cultural story for urban Indian homes. EthelDaCosta.com catches up with the busy entrepreneur to understand her work-pleasure-balance philosophy.

With more and more proud home owners opting to design their own living spaces as an extension of their own personality, choosing how you live is a personal given. Interestingly, home decor brands have stepped up and come to understand the opportunity, bridging the gap between the traditional and the contemporary, says Latika Khosla, Founder, Freedom Tree Design Studio, Goa-Mumbai. A tete e tete follows.

The birth of Freedom Tree Design

I came back to India after a longish stint in Asian nations.  The trend and color strategy studio which I founded, led me to work with big brands in the home space. However, there was this big gap of leveraging Indian manufacturing and artisanal capability. Home was being envisaged as a cookie cutter fix!

I felt that it’s a new world out there. Future forward from nearly two decades past, Freedom Tree is the new avatar of the loved store, Takete Maluma. So picking off from that success, to the zeitgeist of the times today, Freedom Tree is the place for those who want ‘easy, relaxed’ homes. Think contentment,  artist and quirky with clean edge.Offbeat and inspiring for a new generation to discover the joy of doing up their homes themselves. Freedom Tree helps the ‘mix-matching’ abandoning regular arrangements which suit the times today. And core to the ethos, is to make everything in India!

Latika Khosla, Founder, Freedom Tree Design

The Trial and tribulations of being a woman entrepreneur

I have never thought of, or faced a challenge being a woman, in my work or in entrepreneurial ventures. In fact, as long as 20 years ago, a bank made a special loan for ‘women entrepreneurs.’  I remember this wonderful Bank Manager at BOI who encouraged and put her faith in a very young and raw team, and cut through a lot of paperwork to make things happen speedily. When I came back from overseas and set up the design practice….no issues. We are still the only Trend and Color Strategy practice in India….and yes, a lot of us are women in the studio! Being a woman designer has only been an advantage. We bring a particular empathy when we work with artisanal groups…understand their livelihood challenges. I also think as a woman I take more risks and try things that may not only be fixated on numbers delivery! And most importantly, in running home stores and a consulting practice, I have been blessed with a good back end team and wonderful landlords!

Her strengths in business and if the Indian market is conducive to women succeeding at their ventures

My business strength comes possibly from my design training. Envisioning an intangible idea and being able to make that paper tiger come to life through the meticulous rigor of planning to turn that into a reality. Right from design to in-store visual merchandising. Understanding the production processes, whether of exporters or an artisan. And empathy with them that ends in long-standing relationships. My genuine love for color as being a way to bring a smile to a face and turn a home into a happy place!

Of course, India is conducive to women entrepreneurs! We are seen in many avatars in the pantheon and roles in the family….and that is how we possibly are able to multitask and work! Faced no challenges, or did not perceive them as such!

What makes Freedom Tree unique

Freedom Tree is unique in its massive creative opus. In its casual stance, home is the happiest place you can be. Its design range spans across hard materials and products like furniture and textiles, and beautiful products from a heap of ceramics to delicate inlay work. A design ethos runs across the ranges.  We feel our customers are co-creators, as they give us suggestions on how to do more and more things that appeal to their life-stages!

The rise of home decor brands in India

At the turn of the millennium there has been a rise of home store brands as the big box retail brands. The overseas brands with a focus on hard goods that have set up shop here. Then came a wave of online resources. And weaving their own path in between are all the specialty stores that find a gap and appeal to niche audiences in India. This interest in home is enabled by the ability of younger homeowners to be able to buy homes. Living in a world where we are increasingly location independent, home has now become a place to hang out; to work from, to rest in, or entertain.

Vision path for the brand and herself

Through a design sensibility, amazing color ways, graphic print and pattern bring a more relaxed attitude to homes that need it. With signature color palettes, strong print direction, quirky curated product mix, we bring real and likable design for everyday living. To be able to bring the tactility and texture of handmade and hand painted artisanal stories into our ever-modern life spaces, giving them a breathability and a soul. We are constantly evolving and stimulating the freedom to have fun and at the same time create happy looking homes.The design studio has created color design strategies for Asian Paints, BP Ergo, Berger Lewis, Cartini Tools, Century Laminates, Dai Nippon Japan, Dulux/Akzo Nobel Global, Essar Group, Easy Jet Europe, Fabindia, Future Group Home Town, Godrej Appliances, Godrej Interio, General Motors, Hindustan Pencils, Hyundai, Kansai Nerolac, Levis India, Mother Earth, Nippon Paints, Proctor and Gamble China, Samhwa Paints, Korea, Portico NY, Virgin UK, Unique Pharma, Russia, Whirlpool. Our small but vigorous team works transparently as a knowledge partner with clients, undertaking design research and complex system design projects.

Freedom Tree, Sangolda, Goa, Contact: 0832 2278006

Freedom Tree Design Block 31, Laxmi Woolen Mill Compound, Shakti Mill Lane, Off E. Moses Road, Mahalaxmi (W), Mumbai – 400 011, India T: +91-22-2491 4433 | +91-22-2497 4562

Website: www.freedomtree.in

Ethel da Costa
Fashion & Lifestyle Journalist, Founder-CEO, Think Geek Media

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