To saunter is to ‘walk in a slow and relaxed way, often in no particular direction’ and to saunter in the city of Delhi is rather rare. I reached Artisan Lab and experienced sauntering first hand, which eventually led to an absolute state of calm. Artisan Lab, a concept store and a cafe, is charming and one of its kind, and the most notable contributions by the head chef are the rose and strawberry iced tea, Belgianchocolate French toast and the spicy chicken and mango salad.
We got in touch with the co-founders, Neimat Sethi and Noor Sethi, who took us behind its story.
What inspired Artisan Lab?
Artisan Lab is a globally inspired part concept store and part cabinet of curiosities created with a reverential commitment to craftsmanship. We’re slowing down retail.
Experiential retail is what we’ve tried to incorporate through the space, whether the purpose of your visit maybe to shop, eat or unwind. We want you to be able to imagine your home as you walk through the store. It is an ode to the touch and feel of retail – to the deeply satisfying process of hunting till you find the perfect piece for your home or a special gift for a loved one.
The café is a warm, well-lit sanctuary designed to bring people together for the love of food and art. It offers you a culinary journey, crafted with fresh and in-season ingredients. Food and retail are the core components of the brand and we wanted to bring together a wholesome experience where you can eat, shop, relax and explore.
How did the idea come together?
Noor graduated in Fashion Merchandising from Parsons School of Design, New York. Enthralled by the city’s vibrant culture, art, fashion and spaces, she decided to stay on and work in ‘buying and merchandising’ with various start up ventures as well as established organizations in New York. When she returned home, she joined an e-commerce portal to understand the Indian audience and their buying behaviour. She also styled several homes before launching Artisan Lab.
Neimat went for her master’s degree in Hospitality Management at the Glion Institute of Higher Education, Switzerland. Onwards, she started her journey as a professional chef and worked at renowned outlets like The Ritz Carlton in Dubai, Junoon in New york, Calabria in Italy and further as a professional food consultant.
Food was always an integral part of the experience that we wanted to bring forward as part of our concept and to create a space that caters to all. With both our respective experiences, it was the perfect synergy of food and retail and we wouldn't have had it any other way.
Could you tell us more about the retail collection and the whole curation process?
The pieces housed at Artisan Lab consist of carefully chosen, beautiful things designed and sourced locally as well as on journeys across the world. The focus is on simple products that are design-minded, and in which the artisan’s craft is vividly evident.
Our collection also features distinctive limited edition pieces created in collaboration with emerging artists, designers and artisans. Usually available only for a short duration only, these pieces make Artisan Lab one of the best places to find the truly unique.
Here, you will also find ethereal products like terrariums and plant eco systems – living, breathing works of art and wonderfully thoughtful, lasting alternatives to flower bouquets. Luxurious brass lamps inspired by palm trees. Crystal stone candles that channel positivity, in 8 soothing in-house fragrances. Customized monogramming option on lush, organic linens made with the finest flax. Handmade leather carpets crafted using traditional techniques, which can be made to order in a colour and design of your choice.
What’s at the core of the cafe?
The offerings at the cafe are simple, seasonal and sustainable, encouraging guests to eat well while staying anchored by something deeper. We’re supporters of all things clean yet delicious and we want to share this way of living with you.
Our delicious fare at the café is about respecting the flow and integrity of nature. Our chef, Neimat Sethi, follows the Friends of the Earth theory, which promotes the sustainable use of earth’s resources. The menu is seasonal and largely plant-based, yet features a carefully considered selection of meat, fish and dairy. We use only locally sourced ingredients, organic fruits and vegetables, homegrown herbs, and all our milk is A2 grade lactose-free. Plastics have no place in our planet, and this applies at Artisan Lab too.
Eating well should be for everyone, so we've marked our menu to help you navigate food intolerances. Those who are gluten or dairy-free will also find plenty to enjoy. If you have any other dietary requirements, do let our staff know and we'll try our best to accommodate your needs here at Artisan Lab.
A wave of calmness washes over as you enter the space. What sets that energy?
Every architectural element stands out as a prominent feature. It inspires you by exploring geometry in doorway arches and using bold display fixtures as well as glass-bricked walls that diffuse the light fluidly through out the space along with our handcrafted foliage artwork on the walls; a perfect synergy of craftsmanship and simplicity. The café on the second level is a seamless extension of the retail space where you can enjoy a cup of coffee, read a book and indulge in some retail therapy while listening to soothing jazz and blues tunes.
What challenges did you come across and what’s next for you?
No journey is smooth and we have had our share of roadblocks like the Delhi sealing drive, exploring plastic free packaging solutions, vendor management to name a few. We’re only 20 days in and we’ve received a lot of love. We’re looking to expand the Artisan Lab family to other locations.
Text Priyanshi Jain