Keya Shah, the founder of The Doodle Soup may be only 21 years old, but is already steering a promising and successful entrepreneurial venture. The Mumbai gal had always been into numbers (she is pursuing a career in Actuarial Science). Hence, this creativity-inspired and fueled venture must have come as a pleasant surprise to her as well!
Bookedforlife chats with Keya Shah, Founder of The Doodle Soup to know more…..
How it all started…
I have always been more inclined towards math and academics and didn’t do well at art in school. It is therefore a bigger surprise to myself than anyone else that I own The Doodle Soup today! But, I absolutely love my work. Just over two years ago, I made a few posters featuring doodles of my favourite books and TV shows only to decorate my room, nothing in the least entrepreneurial. It was my best friend, Devanshi, who pushed me forward, saying that my work had market potential. Thereon, I signed up as a volunteering artist for Postergully where I all I did was provide artwork on my end and they sold the merchandise, in exchange for which I was paid a commission. The notebooks and coasters did exceptionally well here and I started getting requests for custom doodles. That’s how I started The Doodle Soup, a separate independent e-store as a means to give people what they actually wanted in the gifting sphere rather than buying generalized not-so-special products. I’ve always believed that I have been extremely lucky for this opportunity to fall into my lap!
It’s a little embarrassing but there’s no real story behind it! My best products feature doodles on them and I really love Chinese Noodle Soup so…
The journey between the idea and production…
As personalized products are my main business, it takes quite a while to produce a product, such as a frame or a mug on my end. I really try to understand the person they’re trying to gift, make sure it is tailored to what they have in mind and draw and redraw till we’re both happy with it. I am one of the luckier artists, I don’t need to go looking for inspiration to strike! I’m provided with crisp instructions and material to doodle and I follow that to the best of my abilities (well, mostly!)
The book community is a special place. Not only in India, but throughout the world, books have the power to bring people together and I’m hoping my products do that in some way too. I’m an avid reader and so I always represent myself through my work. The literary world gives everyone a reflection of what they represent and in the words of JK Rowling, “The stories we love best do live in us forever.” My literary products needed almost no marketing as the vast community has done all the marketing for it.
My Harry Potter doodle is my favourite one mainly because it was the first one I ever did. It’s been years since the last book released but that novel has found its way into too many hearts and I’m happy my doodle delights so many as much it delights me! The Game of Thrones design has of course been pushed after the release of the TV show but yes, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, FRIENDS, Stranger Things and the Bibliophile mugs are my best sellers!
The library stamps are my most treasured products. Not a lot of stores in India offer rubber stamps and even fewer are into customized ones! I’ve always been a child who wrote her name in all the books she owned and I’ve also been at a place where books I’ve lent have never been returned. This basic frustration that I know every reader has faced at some point led to the idea of bookstamps. So simple, yet so efficient! I’ve made sure I have a heavy catalogue to choose from that caters to every type of reader. This has grown leaps and bounds into wedding stamps and company stamps too!
The bestseller- Bibliophile mug
The day I released the Bibliophile mug, there was a frenzy. It was heartwarming but it also made me extremely nervous to see 100+ messages inquiring about the same! The literary themed products (especially the general Bibliophile Mug and the library stamps) come straight from my heart.
The next design I want to create is definitely one for Lord of the Rings. There have been requests for general ones for say, John Green, but I wish to cover the older greater novels first before pleasing the younger crowd. An Agatha Christie and Literary Classics theme mug and notebook set is under way as well. Hopefully, I can collaborate with many more book boxes from India. I did one in November with IAAK Box for rubber stamps and it was great!
Well, for now it seems that The Doodle Soup is all set to make literary inspired products. From the book onto a doddle….that’s the way it goes!
You can look at the FB page of The Doodle Soup here.
‘In the City: A Library’ is an exhibition of photographs that are a result of a tryst with books at one of the city’s oldest public institutions. The People’s Free Reading Room and Library was and continues to be one of the iconic grand old structures, reminiscent of Mumbai’s or rather Bombay’s old world charm. Of course, if you were to visit it now, you would see a glaring advertisement obscure a part of the building. However, this does not undermine the glorious beauty that the building once was.
Photographer Chirodeep Chaudhuri and Author Jerry Pinto spent about a year and a half, chronicling and exploring this iconic library in the modern context. ‘In the City: A Library’ expresses what they found.
Bookedforlife chats with Chirodeep Chaudhuri to read between the lines…
The handwritten notes, the bus tickets, little scribbles in the books, pressed flowers, a tram ticket…all these objects are a foreground in the photographs. How did you think of making these objects the story?
Before I start any project I make little notes to myself. As a broad concept, one of the ideas that I wrote down was to include mentions of things left behind…the kind of stuff that one finds left inside books. In old libraries especially, the chances of finding such stuff increases. But, when we did find things between the pages of books, we left it where it was. Things that have been left so long leave impressions. They become a part of the narrative.
One of the most interesting objects that we found were tram tickets. The last tram ran in Mumbai in 1968. And, the last stamp in a book in which we found a tram ticket, was around that time as well. So, these could well have been amongst the last tram tickets ever! Another interesting find was a pressed flower in Shakespeare’s Complete Works!
You found some really funny stories in the books didn’t you? Like a guy who kept writing about homeopathy. Can you share a couple of these instances? It’s almost like being let in into someone’s little secret!
Yes, we did find many scribbles. We found a letter from a daughter to a father about a holiday. There was an entire letter to the police commissioner requesting for speedy processing of the passport! We also kept finding books where there would be scrolls on the virtues of homeopathy. We found about 18 to 20 of them, and photographed about 4. There was one book where somebody wrote a review of the book on the title page itself.
Through all this material, you can build the portrait of an era!
Have you consciously tried to capture the physical interactions that people had with books? All the objects within, the notes, the torn dilapidated conditions. This is in fact what is absent in the digital age. Do you feel that it is this aspect that we are losing collectively as a society?
I think so. Just think about the people around you. How many are members of libraries? A library is indeed the most democratic space. Just think about it. You need to be only a seeker of knowledge to go there. It is tragic that people don’t inhabit it anymore.
When you were photographing the books at the library did you encounter people who actually used the books for reading? I think these days its more about students using it as a study-area!
We were shooting in full view at the library for about one and a half years. What really surprised me was that never even once…no one ever asked what we were doing! We were quite conspicuous. We would pull out the books, stand on stools to photograph them and so on. But, no one wondered! I believe that this in itself is a statement. I found this very strange.
The collection of photographs points out to the neglect of books and libraries in general. But, do you feel the story would be same (albeit in varying degrees) in other iconic libraries of our city or our country?
Well, top libraries do have funds at their disposal and they use it. But what we saw here is indeed the fate of many libraries. We can lament here, but I must also say that the apathy is on both sides. Sometimes, institutions do not give the vibe of being member-friendly. At the end of the day, institutions are alive if people are using them. The tragedy is that we are not using them!
For a booklover not to be moved by these images is impossible. But the poignancy of the situation hits us more, when we read these words written by author Jerry Pinto, who co-authored the exhibition.
That edifice which looks so imposing, those rows of books which look so welcoming, they are as susceptible to the passage of time as you are. Time ravages books just as much as silverfish, mildew and blades wielded in secret and in silence. The book has many enemies. So have libraries.
But the worst enemy of all is the sound of receding footsteps, as people walk away from libraries. Tell me, when did you last go to the library? – Jerry Pinto
In the City…a Library is perhaps a gentle nudge to all booklovers, to go and claim a part of a dying heritage. After all, libraries only die when we let them.
This is a post that may not really mean anything to you, if you are not a big fan of The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien. But, if you are amongst those who find themselves drawn to the Middle-Earth, well, here are some curated Lord of the Rings merchandise that will help you recreate the magic in your home.
First things first. You need a map of Middle Earth to create an ambience. The bigger, the better! Map décor is popular anyways and adds a certain old world charm to a room. If the map belongs to Middle Earth, the charm is multiplied!
Posters are a quick and cost-effective way to set a theme for any space. When it comes to Lord of the Rings you have a plethora of characters to choose from! Don your walls with your favourite character, or make a gallery wall with a set of posters. When it comes to Lord of the Rings merchandise, posters clearly rule the market there! There is a lot of choice indeed, so make your pick wisely.
Little knick-knacks and accessories add a fun element to the décor. I would love to include a little bit of The Lord of the rings in my daily life through little objects!
I also love using figurines to add a little bit of drama. I would prefer the more realistic figurines as compared to caricatures. However, I must admit that some caricature figurines are quite attractive as well! you could place figurines in a showcase. You can group them together and create a little scene as well.
If you play chess, nothing like having your favourite characters on the board! Chess boards also make for beautiful displays.
For those with a more literary bent, Tolkien’s words have a magical effect. The trilogy is filled with beautiful poems and quotable quotes. Why not get them on the wall? Or, maybe in a frame?
While all these Lord of the Rings merchandise will add a bit of Middle- Earth to your home, for me, there is something else that really beats them all. If you are LEGO fan like I am, try and actually create a Lord of the Rings setting by yourself! There are numerous choices here as well.
It is the name that gives it all away. Atrangi, a word that means strange or unusual is quite apt to describe this new line of typographical furniture designed by Harshi Shah, Founder of Atrangi, a Designer Furniture Brand.
Her very first line of furniture pieces boldly challenges clinical minimalism and dives into rich Indian heritage. The result is a mesmerising and statement-making collection. The current line has been inspired by a famous step well located in Patan, in North Gujarat. The Rani ki Vav (Queen’s Stepwell) has a conspicuous architectural style.
It’s one of those things that literally just happened. I was in my final year and we had to design a font. I happened to discuss Rani Ki Vav with my professor Mrs. Mansi Keni and how it had been added to UNESCO’s Heritage site earlier that year. She encouraged me to design a font around that theme. I began thinking and designing the font and researching more about it. By the end of the month with the graphic font ready, I told her I’d like to make a piece of furniture because anything else would become too mainstream. That’s where it all began.
The Vav, that is, the well. That is what makes Rani Ki Vav. I sat with architectural plans of the place and then tried to incorporate the construction of well in a way that it makes a flow throughout the design. The sculptures on the furniture are all from the actual site itself. I have creatively juxtaposed them into the furniture.
This was a revelation to me as well. I am a Commercial artist who has specialized in typography. Initially, I viewed this theme and its furniture as nothing more than art pieces with usability. But, it was heartwarming to see that people still rejoice and appreciate our heritage. They appreciated the fact that the designs were rooted in something that was so uniquely Indian, so uniquely ours!
All the pieces are made in old teak wood. The hand carving and craftsmanship is too intricate for any other wood to be able to endure it. Old Teak wood is both a suitable and economical combination.
A library is a world it itself, full of cultures and languages. Some of these few pieces fit best at a library. Take for instance the bookshelf. Pustak in Hindi means book. The bookshelf – Pustak is quite a giveaway, right? We also have a new addition to the bookshelf that reads “Kitaab”, which also means book. The lounge rocker, is one of my favourites in the lot. It is also the one with the highest sale and demand as it is very comfortable and powerful in design. If I had to design a library corner in my house I’d make one using the lounge rocker, center table and lamps. The inscription on the lamps read Prakash, which means light in Hindi.
For more information about the products please visit https://atrangiart.com
Did you know that Venice was one of the ancient seats of the book trade? Bookbinding as an art flourished in the venetian society. If you walk around the maze of lanes in Venice today, you are sure to stumble upon some great book shops where books are objects of art.
One such haven is a store named Charta. The store has a long history and has been present since 1975. Its customers cross over generations. Dario Ustino, Venetian son of a Venetian mosaicist runs the store. The store has many beautiful products: Books, bookmarks, art prints and furniture and accessories as well.
Books have never lost their place. There is a more important enhancement for ancient, illustrated and valuable books. These books will never be replaced with the internet. With time there will be a tendency to publish only valuable books with a nice personalized cover to keep in a timeless collection. Restoration and classic books are increasingly demanded and the bookbinders are really too few in the world.
The process is very classic and innovative at the same time. The restoration and cleaning of the pages are carried out using traditional methods, while the binding is made with an innovative technique using leather cloth and gold leaf with the care of reproducing a cover that is consistent with the era of the book. All our books are original edition, restored and rebound with creative binding in leather and other decorations. Each work is one of a kind.
Miniature bookcases are a very important passion for my husband Dario Ustino, the creator of most of our work. He has a collection of vintage Victorian pieces and with local artisans he also manages to produce copies of miniature bookcases with different themes.
Lovers of good books need to travel a lot to find vintage books, which are sometimes in bad condition. Then, they need to find a good bookbinder who can handle the restoration of books.
To buy our masterpieces you must come to Venice in our unique store of charm or on our website www.chartaonline.com
Barrels cannot be square. So, when a brand like Square Barrel comes along, we can expect stuff that is clearly out-of-the-box! Some objects force you to look twice because they have a differentiating element. These are the kind of products designed and retailed by Pratik and Shikha Barasia, the Founders of Square Barrel.
Translating their vision of ‘funky’ and ‘quirky’, they create objects that are out of the ordinary and very charming indeed! Here are some of their products that any book lover would swoon over!
Nothing like an open book to entice a book lover! This design was created for all book lovers. The handles of the cabinet have been inspired by the leaves of a book. It is a simple unit with a twist which is enough to add a funky element to the piece. The piece is made from Marine Plywood. Polyurethane paint and digital printing have been used for the design. A perfect cabinet to store books!
The Hungry Caterpillar anyone? This design was created with the desire to create a furniture piece that didn’t sit only on the floor but crept up the wall as well. After many sketches and discussions, they created the caterpillar. Cute as it may look, this is a sturdy piece that is made in solid teak wood. Chenille velvet fabric on the stools makes for comfortable seating as well.
What’s a book nook without a rocking chair? The small twist, if you notice carefully, creates all the fun. They have simply changed one arm to a walking stick! Settle down in this cozy teak wood chair for a reading session!
The scroll is an object that recalls elements of the past. This hand-painted mirror is carved in the shape of a scroll. The art is inspired from the style used by tribals in northeast India on textiles.
The Superhero is here to carry the weight of all your books! The aim was to create a bookend which didn’t need two sides to hold all the books in place. They just wanted support only at one end. The tilted angle which was required for this in turn helped them come up with the superhero concept!
Books take you round the world. don’t they? Why not have some iconic global design to host your homegrown collection? This book shelf steals the show completely!
So, the next time you want to amp up your book corner, remember to add that touch of quirk with Square Barrel!
We all love the magic that things of the past hold. The Conferro Heritae Archive is one such treasure trove. The Archive holds about 350,000 vintage newspapers, about 4 million vintage advertisements, dating back upto the19th century from not only India, but the world over, making it one of the largest and the most diverse private collections in the world, along with tens of thousands of books, magazines, cinematic memorabilia, vintage cars, watches, stamps, maps, vintage textile, fine art, tribal art and about 17,000 vinyl records to name a few. Extensive research is the basis of creation of the archive and thus has some of the rarest books, newspapers, vinyls, Bollywood memorabilia among thousands of collectibles in its purview.
The company was founded in 2012. However, we’ve been collecting Art & Collectibles for decades now.
It’s been incredible! It was of course something rather unique that we brought to the Indian Market, but the way it was received was absolutely fantastic! Who doesn’t want a piece of the day they were born, or rather any significant day in their life!
It is of course an expert’s domain and we need to understand the historical significance, rarity, etc. of the collection that we’ve built from various parts of the world. It is also a long process as all the Art & Collectibles are only acquired post all necessary authentication and documentation has been verified.
The oldest newspaper would be the ‘India’ Gazette from 1906 which was published in the UK, we also have some from the 19th century which have not yet been archived. Our oldest magazine would be the magazine ‘Pictures’ – 1920.
Posters have a historical as well as aesthetic value. They are works of art which represent the rich cultural heritage of our movies, reflecting the vibrancy as well as socio-economic conditions of an era. Needless to mention, they are often a significant nostalgic value for a collector. Vintage Advertisements are something a lot of people resonate with. It is an extremely diverse and easily relatable subject. It’s a foray into past times and vintage ads are artworks in themselves. Advertisements are collectibles, which portray multiple dimensions of history and culture both at macro and micro level. They are historic entities for both a country as well as corporate world, signifying its own history, the marketing strategies employed, level of globalization, competition, etc.
We feel blessed to have been able to acquire an incredible number of rare books, dating back upto the 17th century. We’re hoping to showcase and auction some of the rare books from our collection over times to come.
In between mouthfuls of some delicious starters and sips of steaming coffee, a group of young and young at heart people are settled in a corner, doodling away to their heart’s content.
The hip and happening Aka Bistro at Fort, just a stone’s throw away from Mumbai’s cultural heart, Kala Ghoda is hosting participants of an Ink Doodle workshop organized by the Bombay Drawing Room, an inclusive community of Artists & art-lovers, founded by a self-taught Artist & Architect, Snehal Patil.
To me, this looks like a great way to spend a weekend evening. I chat with Shalvi Jhawar, a psychologist by profession, and an artist with Bombay Drawing Room, who is conducting the session.
The flow is that first we recreate basic patterns in these small squares on the practice sheets. Then, we move on to more intricate patterns. Following this, we provide a sheet with a basic shape and practice doodling in it. Finally, we take a final line drawing in which the participants apply all that they have learnt. So, towards the end of the workshop we have two artworks that they can take away.
Prior experience is not necessary, nor do the participants need to be from an art background. We start with basic lines and patterns. We completely understand that our participants may not necessarily have an art background but instead are art enthusiasts. Our worksheets start from lines, broken lines, checks and so on, progressing at each step.
In our Doodle Ink workshops, people are really happy. This has no norms. You have a shape and what you will fill inside it is exactly what you feel. There are no rules here. For example, in acrylic painting you know that the sky is going to be blue. But here, there is no such thing. It’s just how you feel. It allows you to express what you feel at a very subconscious level on paper.
It’s a good mix. We’ve had kids from six years on participate in the sessions! We have people from different backgrounds, ages and profiles. It’s quite a mixed bunch.
It allows participants to socialize with a lot of people. There are no rules and no time restrictions. We keep a casual approach from the beginning!
Zentangle gets a little meditative. Doodling is also meditative but here you can feel free to draw anything. Zentangle is more about shapes, while doodling includes everything.
Doodling is something that we all do in life. If you are sitting in office and getting bored you may doodle. We all have been doodling since school. We help to channelize this and give it a look that is aesthetically pleasing.
What Bookedforlife recommends: Well, the Ink doodle workshop is a great way to pass a few productive hours over a weekend. No better way to get your creative juices flowing! It could be an apt activity for gatherings and parties as well. It could also turn into a good bonding activity. Try participating with your child, partner, friend or parent!
Image credits: Priyamvada Sinha
The Bombay Drawing Room does not insist on any special equipment or brand, and all materials are provided.
If you are keen to try doodling on your own, here are some of our finds, which could be helpful:
2. Doodling pens
We may not have the space for a full-fledged library in most city homes. But, we can always create a reading nook. It is a refuge in the midst of a busy life. Here are some tips on creating one that you will cherish!
Pick an area in your home which will offer you a bit of quiet and peace.
Loads of natural light will do wonders! Top off the serene feeling with a small potted plant.
For all those late night reads, ensure you have a well-placed reading lamp that guarantees comforting light. It could be a floor lamp, table lamp or a chandelier. Take your pick!
The most important element is obviously the seating. When we talk about little reading nook we immediately picturize a comfortable chair that you can sink into. Take your pick. A rocking chair, arm chair, day bed, chaise or even bean bags on the floor…all these options can work. The only requirement is that the seating needs to be comfortable for long durations.
For the sake of comfort, indulge yourself if you must! A pillow that could support your head or elbows would be fine. If a footstool helps, why not add it?
Well..obviously! You may have a full-fledged bookshelf in the area. In that case the reading nook would be a kind of mini-library itself. If space is a constraint pile up the books on a ledge or table. You could put them in a nice wicker basket.
A little touch of green with a small potted plant, a few bookish knickknacks or flowers and candles.. decorate the space a bit and give it your own personal touch.
There….you have your reading nook ready! The very idea of a reading nook reminds me of a quote I read in one of my favourite classic books:
“Jo hurried to this quiet place and curling herself up in the easy chair, devoured poetry, romance, history, travel, and pictures like a regular bookworm ” Louisa May Alcott, Little Women
Let your very own reading nook transport you to a world of books and beyond!
‘The Narrators’, an initiative by Reshma Jain, gets literary gems on the wall in form of beautifully designed book posters. In short, get the text of your novel in the form of a poster. For any book-lover, no wall art can beat this!
These posters are very unique not only because they carry the entire text of the book, but also because the shape of the text reveals a motif or design that is crucial to the theme of the book in question.
Bookedforlife converses with Jain about this venture…
I loved the poster and put it up immediately. Everyone who would come home used to be stunned and would ask for a copy! So, Peter and me decided we should exhibit it in Bombay. Peter’s friend in London, Carl, and his team were the main design team and for very customised prints like The Bhagwad Gita, Peter designed it.
They can email me on [email protected] if they want to personalise or customise a book or a song for the poster.
That is a question any book lover would answer easily- that a book in its original form or as an art form can only enhance any wall and any shelf! It is an extension of all that one is!
The original black and white prints are sourced from England. We also customize and personalize in-house.
For a brief season we did book lights and ‘booknitures’ – little felt tables which fold into a book shape when not in use. We are involved in a variety of activities. The narrators are basically a bunch of journalists and designers and together we do books, biographies, commissioned writing, short films and so on.
Book posters are indeed exciting artworks for any book-lovers wall! We wonder what’s next for The Narrators?