Designing Out Of The Box – Chennai


While walking in Besant Nagar this store’s window will definitely catch your eye. But as you walk through the big wooden doors nothing will prepare you for what you’re about to see. This tastefully quirky store grabs you by the eyeballs, not just with the products they are selling but the design of the store as well.

Shahin Ansari the owner of the Maalgaadi tells us the story of how she conceptualized and named the store. She says, “The Idea for the store developed about three years ago during a brain storming session with my mother; we then went and approached Vivek Karunakaran and his wife Shreya. The space is something we already had, but the ideas for it have completely changed to something better than what we had in mind.”

The idea started with the space being clean and polished while the products remained on the quirky side. They wanted the space to be very refined. But as they travelled and researched looks for the store they soon realised they should be doing the complete opposite of what they had planned and that’s when they decided to go with – an industrial feel to the store.  She goes on to say, “A lot of the influence of the store is from Europe and a few stores in Mumbai and Delhi that we visited while looking for designs.”

As the shop was being constructed the ideas kept changing as well, the space where the cash counter is for example, was supposed to be for the railing of the stairs but once the stairs were done, they liked it without a railing, so the key design was used for the cash counter. This design was inspired by some of the coasters that they were planning to retail at the store.

“We decided to go with a very raw feel for to the interiors, even though we had started out with a polished look in mind. So the floor and walls are exposed cement with a shaded touch to give it a very authentic feel. One wall we decided to decorate with nuts and bolts in the shape of a hot air balloon because all our ideas for the store came from travelling and this is a symbol of that,” explains the proud owner.

On another wall they have it decorated with nails and yarn in the shape of a suitcase, horn and hot air balloon, again sticking to the theme. The railway cabinet which holds the trinkets for hair and bracelets was a one-off piece, says Shahin.  She goes on to add, “We got this piece from Bengaluru and we were so lucky to find it in the colour scheme of the store, which is pink, teal and yellow. We have had some customers who have wanted to buy it but that’s one thing we will not part with.”

The section of the store on the first floor is from a place in Hyderabad called DQ that deals with brands like Happily Unmarried, Chumbak  and they have been with Maalgaadi from the time of its inception. Such products bring a young feel to the store and they add to the decor of the store as well. “These products are affordable and are great gifting ideas,” tells Shahin. The ground floor of the store has garments that are mostly from well-known designers. Apart from that Shahin says, “We are constantly looking for upcoming designers with new, quirky and fun looks that we can feature in the store. The only challenge there is quality,” she tells.

Maalgaadi is looking to expand to another store in the city as future plans hold for now, but Shahin hopes she will soon be able to take her unique concept store abroad and market it to its optimum potential



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