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By Papri Das
Gone are the days when the kitchen used to be a pious space, kept secluded and strictly maintained by women of the family, and cooking and handling the kitchenware used to be an alien concept for the men. Indians today believe in a more open and welcoming kitchen that facilitates team work, where the entire family can get together. While the gender bias within the kitchen hasn?t dissipated completely, a large chunk of Indian kitchens is shared 50-50 by men and women. This was soon followed by a drastic change in the way kitchens were designed and decorated, and now the modern Indian kitchen has gone beyond functional changes to welcome fashion within its four walls as well -- a change that celebrated chef and entrepreneur Sanjeev Kapoor, who launched his own food and lifestyle channel Food Food, has witnessed and promoted over the years.
While visiting the HGH India 2015 annual trade held at the Bombay Convention and Exhibition Centre to launch of Sanjeev Kapoor branded Table and Kitchen Linen and Cutlery products, Kapoor talks about the evolution of the Indian kitchen, its tryst with fashion and his own brand positioning keeping all this in mind.
What has been your observation on the changing indian kitchen?
The kitchen in Indian homes was a pious place with a lot of reverence. It was a space people preferred to keep to themselves rather than sharing it. Today, kitchen has come to the living room. As soon as that happened, there was an immediate need to give it a makeover.
From design to the products you see in a kitchen, it all had to be presentable aesthetically. And the change isn?t just based on the functionality or utility of the things but it also on the attitude you have. It soon became a space where one can have conversations and get togethers as well. Earlier the kitchen was only used to cooking food, but now kitchen is where you cook stories as well.
What is the scope of branding when it comes to homeware and lifestyle goods in India?
The home category earlier was more about utility and functionality, but it is changing now. Earlier we didn't really care what lighting we use in the kitchen, but now we do. These days homes are adapting the lighting schemes, which are mostly used in restaurants. What is interesting is that people are willing to spend money beyond their functional needs to expand their horizon of lifestyle.
With Sanjeev Kapoor as a brand, I plan to improvise and transform the entire kitchen and dining experience of modern-day consumers by developing quality houseware products that are trendy, aesthetically suited to modern settings, functionally more effective and safe.
I see myself lending my name to not just cups, and saucers and plates and forks but more. Today food is not merely limited to the senses of taste and smell but has gone beyond this to also include the sense of sight.
Will you agree that the Indian kitchen has shrunk in size due to the over all space constraints in the cities?
Space used to be a problem earlier because people were in the habit of hoarding things. Today you get things ?a La Minute?, which means ?I want it now so I order it and get it?. So there is no point storing things. Earlier people used to store certain items for over a year in their kitchens, today there is going to be someone who will supply it round the year and that too to your doorstep with a click of a button in your mobile app.
Do you agree that the kitchen is no longer exclusive to women?
Absolutely. My research data, which I have gathered from a trustworthy source, backs the fact that today the kitchen is used almost 50-50 by men and women. And it is not about gender anymore, but about experiencing something together with the entire family. Even kids are cooking these days under their parents' guidance, and therefore the kitchen is being modeled according to these emerging trends, a space that can safely support a child?s cooking experience.
Having said that, today?s kitchen and homeware products aren?t designed or marketed just for any gender. There is no need to think differently to cater to women. Whether it's a frying pan or an apron, it doesn?t matter if it?s a man or a woman using it, it?s produced and marketed in the same way. One may say that colour scheming will differ according to gender, but gone are those days when pink products were for women and blue was for men. The homeware lifestyle products are more about the family and its members.
Is this new age, are fashionable kitchens being accepted beyond the metro cities?
The growth of India is pan Asia, and thanks to the internet, people are more informed and aware of the lifestyle services that they can avail. Earlier the affluent Indians and those in the towns didn?t know that they could avail of such services that existed.