People Tree | Assagao
A space that celebrates collective creativity initiated over 20 years ago by the power of a few passionate people and a simple hand printed T-shirt.
Stumble upon the chilled out boutique and restaurant duo located at address 6 Assagao and one may be quick to assume they’ve simply discovered yet another of the many art café’s to pop up across Goa in recent years. The kind hosting an array of ethically made, fairly traded and traditionally inspired attire, eclectic accessories and natural lifestyle products. Promoting their use of local organic ingredients and serving up a considerably higher quality coffee than you’ll ever find anywhere else in the village. However take a moment to look a little closer and you’ll come to learn the full story. The one that introduces you to the dynamic yet surprisingly humble company that is more than likely responsible for the entire ‘eco-friendly’ movement in India that’s resulted in the above. Meet the folks of People Tree. Arguably one of India’s first repeatable design collectives to start kicking up and making noise nearly 25 years back. An initiative which began in Delhi between a small group of friends with a shared frustration on the lack of both political and personal freedoms in a country that was only just beginning to consider design as a legitimate alternative to engineering or medicine. Well at least for women that is. Having at the time all either recently graduated or dropped out of their respective design institutes, quit their jobs or moved cities. They like so many others were uninspired by the opportunities available within their fields. Determined not to pick up some soulless corporate position, designing promotional materials for a company they in no way felt a connection to or slave to a boss whose values they didn’t even respect.
So instead of succumbing to the same or giving in to their parents wishes and switching to a career in another industry, they chose to stick it out. Establishing themselves at an early stage as pioneers within the field of ethical design and eco-fashion across India.
“From a few pamphlets in the early 90’s to a bookshop that is celebrated as the most successful alternative bookstore in Delhi. From hand-painted T-shirts to a flourishing souk of creative madness in textile and accessories. Many posters for many campaigns have been designed here, many T-shirts with slogans for NGO’s and social movements have taken birth here. Comic Books and comic health manuals have been drawn and written here. We never have done “social work”. For us its always been “social play”. Our passion is to communicate, with humour, fun and intensity. We have never believed in the separation of the aesthetic, function, soul and fun. People Tree has been an ongoing party for most people involved in it. It’s about trying to create a space where we can produce without uniformity, we can create without deadlines, we can talk philosophy, politics, ideology, without drying up our hearts.”
Now shifting back and forth to Goa while maintaining the initial studio space in Delhi with the support of a growing team of activists, musicians, artists, designers, writers, photographers, craftsmen, and entrepreneurs. Having chosen to come down to Assagao in 2012 to escape the city alongside their neighbor and fellow business Gunpowder Restaurant. Occupying space in the front half of the plot’s old Indo-Portuguese home whose exterior walls are now adorned with a mix of quirky and contemporary art installations all made by the team themselves. Continuing to express their views, opinions and ambitious as artists to a new generation of shoppers. Sit down with one of People Tree’s founders, Gurpreet Sidhu, while browsing the shop and you’ll be sure to learn everything and more about the brands early days. All the while getting into a deep heated discussion on today’s design industries and the latest social and environmental controversies. And when she isn’t busy taking a stand, you’ll find her happily sat at her desk filing the endless paperwork every small business owner is forced to deal with no matter how unconventional their approach. You can learn more about People Tree’s philosophy and their range of one of a kind products made in collaboration with countless designers, artisans, co-ops and crafts people along with their regular workshops, events and outreach programs throughout the year by checking out their Goa Blog and Facebook page or by visiting their official company website.
Location | Villa No. 6, Saunta Vaddo, Bardez, Assagao, Goa 403507
Open | Monday to Sunday from 10am-11pm