Block Shop's Insider Guide to Jaipur
23 April, 2019
Sister-run textile company Block Shop is based in LA and Jaipur. Presenting colourful, graphic designs, hand-printed in Bagru - a small village skirting Jaipur - the pair are no strangers to the Pink City.
Harvard grads Hopie and Lily (the former attending Business School and the latter studying painting) joined forces in 2010 to set up textile studio Block Shop.
The company's entire process is manual, designing on paper, printing with wooden blocks and dyeing in small batches. Its bedding, homewares and woodblock prints are crafted in a spirited colour palette, while designs are unrelentingly graphic in their presentation.
With production based out of Bagru inRajasthan, a village on the outskirts of Jaipur, the sisters are no strangers to the city. Having frequented some of its most colourful spots - from antiquated palaces to chartreuse cocktail bars - Hopie and Lily here offer an illuminating insider guide to the Pink City.
How often do you visit Jaipur?
We go twice a year for a few weeks at a time to work in person with our community of printers, dyers and weavers.
Where do you stay while you're in town?
28 Kothi is our home away from home. It's a luminous, five-bedroom guest house owned and run by our friends. The Kothi experience is super personalised, down to the fruit you prefer in your breakfast salad or the herbal soap you get to select at the outset of your stay.
Where can we visit to see colours as bright as those found in your designs?
Taking an auto rickshaw through the bustle of Old City Jaipur at the end of a working day - it's the best way to take in the living colour of this place.
Our favourite monochromatic spaces include JKK, an arts centre built in 1986 which is full of modern geometries in rich terracotta. Bar Palladio is decked out in every shade of blue imaginable, while the VIP tour of City Palace is 100 per cent worth it for the blue room. The buttercream-coloured stepwell near the Amber Fort is an Escher-like sight to behold. Jantar Mantar is probably the most striking architectural site in the city.
How do your surroundings impact your work and designs?
We start our design process by looking up at the architecture that surrounds us. We isolate architectural motifs, then repeat them on a large scale to create most of our patterns.
Tell us about the Bagru Women's Empowerment Program…
This is our form of community investment, designed to support and empower the women. It provides education on reproductive health, nutrition, financial planning, goal-setting and self-worth exercises via doctors and experts we bring in from nearby Jaipur. The monthly group sessions are sponsored by Block Shop and implemented by our local community manager. We created this initiative based on needs assessments we conduct annually in Bagru.
Your prints are made using the traditional form of Indian hand block printing; where can we try this for ourselves?
There's a great workshop about an hour outside of Jaipur called Jai Texart, which has a lovely printing facility that makes the most of natural dyes.
For a taste of history head to…Albert Hall Museum
displays stunning Mughal miniature paintings and ancient textiles. Aside from its art collection, the heavenly mint-green ceilings of the inner courtyard are one of our favourite design moments in Jaipur.
What key pieces do you pack when travelling?
Light linen jumpsuits, wrap skirts, comfy flats, a sketchbook, portable speakers, Fiona Caulfield's Love travel guides and Block Shop scarves.
Where should we go for a low-key lunch?
Café Kothi serves the best lunch in town; its grain-based bowls and smoothies are great. At Anokhi Café order the massaman curry, string bean salad and iced coffee.
Other food spots we should try…
For dinner, try 47 Jobner Bagh or 28 Kothi, which has a fixed menu based on whatever is fresh in the local market.
Where's good for an evening tipple?
Our favourite bar in the world: Bar Palladio.
What's the city's dress code?
Whatever you regularly wear, as long as it's not too tight or revealing, which can be perceived as disrespectful. The temperatures are quite hot from spring to autumn, so lightweight, linen clothes are best.
A book to read before we go?
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry.
One misconception about Jaipur is…
...that it's old fashioned. Traditional Rajasthani culture is wholly present, but Jaipur has become a cosmopolitan hub, attracting more and more creatives and young business owners each year.
One place only locals know about is…Curious Life Coffee Roasters
- a cute, mostly local, coffee shop.
What one souvenir should we take home?
Hand block-printed textiles from Anokhi and, if you have it in your budget, a ring or earrings - Jaipur is the gemstone capital of India.