Nur Kaoukji, creative director of lifestyle brand Ecru, reveals the stores that are a must-visit the next time you are in Jaipur
For most of us resigned to a hamster-like existence that involves the same 9 to 5 office drill, Nur Kaoukji’s life, divided between India and Lebanon, makes for some serious lifestyle envy. As creative director of Ecru, an online décor brand with bases in India and Kuwait, Nur spends six months of the year in Jaipur, working with local craftsmen and the other six in Beirut.
Jaipur holds a special place in Nur’s life. She spent the better part of her twenties training under the late Munnu Kasliwal, founder of well-known jewellery house The Gem Palace. She spent those years working with some of the best craftsmen in the world. When Munnu Kasliwal’s son Siddharth was in the process of putting together the plan for 28 Kothi, an eclectic boutique hotel that he was setting up in Jaipur, Nur asked him to give her the opportunity to style the interiors of the space as her birthday gift. As someone who understands every nook and corner of Jaipur, Nur reveals the little known secrets that come with being an insider.
Read on to find out about where to shop in Jaipur on your next trip there.
Your top five favourite stores in Jaipur for décor.
Hot Pink Jaipur has a beautiful selection of fabrics, bed covers etc and they also hold a beautiful collection of Ravi Varma paintings. Idli Design – The store has just about anything from beautiful rice paper lanterns to actual hand carved furniture. AKFD – Some of the most elegant furniture ever made. Ecru has collaborated on a series of collections with them and we love working with them. Kashmir Loom – if you’re looking for an oversized cashmere throw, this is the place to go. Royal Treasures is a great place for furniture, antique textiles, and decorative trinkets.
Could you tell us your favourite restaurant in Jaipur where you never miss having a meal?
The roof of The Mosaic Guest House is a very special place. You have to call in advance and book but whether you choose the Rajasthani menu or their famous pizza, you are guaranteed an incredibly romantic evening under the stars eating the most delicious meal. Then there is the delicious home cooked meals I get to have, those are usually the best.
What is your favourite place in Jaipur?
Almost too difficult to say there are so many options. My terrace, the roof of the Gem Palace for being with my friends,Palladio for drinks, my office where I can spend time with my fabulous team, 28 Kothi- sipping on a chai in the garden, being in the middle of the chaos of the birthday bazaar.
Is there a flea market space in Jaipur where one could hope to find beautiful bargain buys?
Yes, actually there is one that no one ever goes to as they find it too much to handle but it’s literally a flea market where you can still find actual treasures and I love it, It’s located behind the City Palace and takes place very early morning on Wednesdays. The last time I was there I found an oversized brass lantern that had a particular jalli which is now proudly hanging in my living room.
Your favourite season in Jaipur?
I love the period right before holi, when it’s still cool but its warm enough to swim and everyone is getting excited for holi. And then there's the magic of Diwali of course.
Is there any particular street you frequent in Jaipur for antique products?
Honestly no, antique buying is a tricky thing. Almost everything can claim to be antique and due to the high level of craftmanship I usually work with recommended dealers
What is your favourite stores to find beautiful local jewellery in Jaipur?
The Gem Palace of Jaipur for the elegant and precious collectibles and anywhere in Johari Bazaar for the sparkly stuff.
What is the one thing that you never forget to buy to take back home, after a trip to Jaipur?
I always stock up on block printed fabrics in light mul mul, they’re the perfect gift. And multi-colored chappals and jootis.