By Rebati Adhikari
Nepal’s handicraft industry has largely been a craft based industry. Revolution in technology and mechanisation is transforming every sector, but the handicraft industry is still largely untouched by modernisation. Additionally, handmade creations may not always have the uniformity when the product has to be manufactured on large scale. Astha Rajbhandari, Founder of Kala Kathmandu always contemplated over the possibility of reproducing original handmade products to exact precision. With this determination of bringing accuracy into design through machinery, she started her venture, Kala Kathmandu.
Kala Kathmadu is an industrial design and product innovation studio that blends design, art and industry. It produces interior design accessories that act as decorative pieces but also are functional. Founded in 2015, Kala Kathmandu gives shape to industrial design in its simplest form preserving its minimalistic values. The first product of Kala Kathmandu was the Owl Tea Light.
Astha Rajbhandari herself is a product designer, a graduate from Symbiosis International University with specialisation in product design. She recalls that when she returned home after her education, she hardly met anybody with knowledge of industrial and product designing. Moreover, the market was dominated by handmade products. Therefore, it was not unusual for people to be bewildered to witness excellence in the designed products. In the past two years, Kala Kathmandu has earned a regular client base. She has been successful in trying to prove that in the craft industry there can be precision as well as timely delivery with the use of machines.
Rajbhandari thinks fun and interactive products enriched in variety keep her company distinct from others in a similar market segment. She believes in art with function so her designs are not only serve as decorative pieces but also address necessity. She keeps playing with different ideas and colours in her products. “The market is stable for this particular field and is slowly accepting us. When clients of interior designers and architecture want something different, they look for us,” says Rajbhandari. “There is a general understanding that Nepali products are very expensive, we are trying to beat this concept as well,” she adds.
She is soon planning to open Kala Kathmandu’s own store. Currently their products are available at The Local Project Nepal.