Srila grew up in Calcutta where art is an everyday concept. ‘You get introduced to design just by osmosis—it’s everywhere around you,’ she says. Her father is an architect and her mother was a specialist in teaching methods for children, so that accounted for the first influences as she saw that there’s creativity and design in everything. Even so, a career in design was not her first choice. She spent 25 years running a film production house, and when she was satiated with that, she decided that she wanted to do something else that excited her. ‘I am not really informed about design theory, mainly because the theory never interests me as much as the experience, and also because I’m too impatient to study! So my journey has been organic and unplanned.’
Along the way, she met Siddharth Sirohi on a long shoot for six weeks in Udaipur, and both were quite fed up of what they were doing: she was the local producer on a Swedish film and had hired him as the production designer. One thing led to another and he persuaded Srila to use their film office to experiment with a furniture startup. They did, and two years later they realised that their experiment was at the point where either they could give it up, or take the next big step And that was the beginning of Baro. Baro means twelve in Bangla, since their address is 12 Sun Mill.
‘I was personally tired of stores in Bombay that one went in to and came out, more often than not, feeling conned: unreasonable prices, uninspiring design, no real story to tell,’ she complains. They, on the other hand, wanted to tell stories—stories that you identified with and could add to and make your own. As a brand, Baro believes that the process of making something is as important as the thing itself; that nothing is worth having if it doesn’t tell your story.
‘I’d love to see people with the same head space take Baroto other places and spread the same kind of design ethic. We aren’t designed for investment bankers so we won’t be bought out to be a global company: we want to stay local, personal- ised, touch-and-feel and brick-and-mortar based, and a centre for celebrating craftsmanship, quality and original design of all kinds,’ she says.
We would like to clear that Srila Chatterjee is the Co- founder and Curator of Baro and Siddharth Sirohi is the Co-founder and Product Designer.