Exclusive Interview with Manifest Design

“We create timeless pieces that are thoughtfully handcrafted and have a soul that transcends style and cultural boundaries. We hope our Jewelry is collected and shared as mementos that infuse inspirations and rekindle forgotten dreams.”

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 India based designer, Manreet’s infectiously light and positive aura captures you immediately upon meeting her. The travelista and intuitive designer is also great fun to eat dessert first with! We sat down and talked life, culture, food and her creative process and journey through Manifest Design. Here is a glimpse of the elegant statement jewelry designer’s process and experiences…  



AurumEve: Can you tell me about your experience in and with Auroville?

ManifestDesign: I decided to move to Auroville because of the energy there, I know that sounds a bit hippie {laughs}! It’s very connected to nature and my pieces are very textural and natural. It’s not a perfect community, but it’s a work in progress. Just before I moved to New York, I had visited Auroville six months before and fell in love. After I finished my studies in New York I kept coming back to Auroville. I would volunteer on a farm there, or just ‘be’ there and experience nature. It was very freeing. With so many people from all over the world in Auroville, for a small place, there are so many things going. It offers that place where you can bring all of your ideas together and create something new. It’s a peaceful environment where you can distill your parts and manifest. In New York I felt like I was constantly recycling ideas subconsciously from marketing. Now I don’t have a TV, my internet barely works, so I live in this weird, self-isolation {laughs}, which I actually feel is good for my work -which makes me feel that my work can last forever: it’s not trend driven or “fashion”-y’ it’s whatever my feelings are. That’s why I like being there, and creating in Auroville.


AurumEve: I’m so intrigued by “Street Food” as an influence in your visual vocabulary. Can you tell us more about this?

ManifestDesign: As a designer in New York I made mood and story boards. Now I take a lot of pictures to document my inspirations. I’m over literally picking things to make a mood board; for me this new way is really about absorbing everything around you. When you are in a new country eating from and standing by a food truck, listening to people as they walk by and even order, you absorb the warmth of the true culture. In a way it’s a non-tangible experience that can inspire you. In India, the best samosa is from a food truck – even the best five star restaurants can’t beat it!

 AurumEve: Tell me more about “jugaad” in your work- what it means to you, especially with the popularization of the term now?

ManifestDesign: {laughs) Well, in India, “jugaad” is a part of life. You grow up with this concept of jugaad. You can’t get any work done otherwise! {laughs} People assume that jugaad is a part of the creative process or the production process. But it’s more the practical aspect of setting up and running a business. A silly example would be: the courier who won’t come to your studio to pick up materials: you’d have to find out what town he’s from, call his wife, ask her to get him to come out to pick up the materials after dinner, so that you can make your delivery deadline – the “hustle”! You have to think ahead. It’s really about troubleshooting whatever comes your way: especially for us, as part of our business model is to work without taking or giving bribes, which can be very challenging!



AurumEve: How do you verify the authenticity of your recycled materials?

ManifestDesign: Trust. I’ve been working with a man in Delhi that I’ve known for many years and trust, who finds and casts recycled aluminum. Also, it’s part of Indian culture, that we do not waste anything. I can physically see that everything is recycled when I go visit his workshop. I see the recycled aluminum. The other day I went in and was looking at the aluminum he was going to melt for my pieces. He found electrical wire, which is the purest form of aluminum! Another day, he had these beautiful brass pieces that he found from a dealer. They were one of the purest forms of brass, from old utensils. I wanted to take them for myself, but they were to be melted down for our pieces!

 AurumEve: Is it just you designing the pieces and producing them?

ManifestDesign: It’s just me designing. From the get-go we’ve wanted to work with craft NGOs’ – their work is beautiful. But it’s difficult as they are spread out, and their priorities aren’t the same as ours, and the sense of urgency is not the same. Our business model works with a production team of about 5-6 artisans, and meanwhile explores long term projects with artisan groups (that are more in line with their timeline). We started with one artisan group and are still waiting for samples six months later. The only way to hasten the project is to go and live there….so I will in a few months {laughs}! Jugaad!


AurumEve: How does aluminum translate in India?

ManifestDesign: In India, aluminum as an artistic material and in design is a very new look. India has a very old jewelry tradition. The contemporary pieces that are around tend to be very fine and delicate. The people who wear funky, big jewelry are college students. So here we are trying to sell statement, big jewelry to people in their 30s and 40s! But the right kind of customer is buying us advertising, fashion, fellow designers and many more.

Capture9AurumEve: Most people in this line of business struggle initially. Your ideal combination of design experience (Manreet) and e-commerce (Samraat) has made many hurdles nonexistent, or at least easily defeated. Still, are there aspects that have given expected or unexpected challenges?

ManifestDesign: Working with a sibling and understanding that was a bit of a challenge, but for me the challenges were really artistic. I could do the designing in my sleep, but – with your own company you have to take the ownership as to which design goes through as opposed to a design director, that you submit your designs to! They ultimately make the decision after you’ve made many designs and they choose- they take that responsibility. With your own company you make those decisions and you are constantly sticking your neck out for yourself… which can be really scary! A friend gave me some really great advice: look at these types of decisions as if you were working for another company. When you are freaked out about a decision, if you approach it as if you were working for someone else – you are able to think about what the next logical step to take would be. This way, things run much faster and so much smoother. You can waste so much time with fear – it cripples you and is insane.

But this experience has truly has been a happy surprise each step of the way.

 AurumEve: I love that you can simply look at a piece, and have such a peaceful, pleasing reaction. Is it intentional?

ManifestDesign: I think that comes through because I’m creating intuitively. That’s why I think it feels timeless and living and being in Auroville helps. It’s quite a different mindset.


AurumEve: As “Manifest Design” is your mantra to stay true to your artistic vision – are you nervous about your original vision changing or evolving?

ManifestDesign: I think it’s a good thing. It’s an organic process. Everything is going to change, and I think it will keep the brand fresh and interesting too. I don’t want everything to look the same. I want to do urban, craft, men’s jewelry and more. I have a friend who does more urban/Brooklyn clothing, and even though my style is different and more classic, we can collaborate. I want to collaborate with many artists, and continue to evolve along the way.


AurumEve: Can you tell us about a piece of jewelry in your life that has been significant and the story behind it?

ManifestDesign: There are these small diamond studs that my mom got me when I graduated from design school in India. It was a stretch for her as she had to save to get them for me. I love them. They are just such a reminder of accomplishment and her pride in my accomplishment. I feel that it is my fiercest piece of jewelry- so whenever I have a big day I always wear them, they’re my favorite piece.

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Images courtesy of Manifest Design.

16 Comments on Exclusive Interview with Manifest Design

  1. I love the idea that isolation promotes creativity. I find that very true working in New York where you are constantly bombarded with styles and trends making it very difficult to be original. I have studied and read about Auroville, I can only imagine the level of inspiration a place like that can create for on artist. Its a fresh look at life, and in this case jewelry.
    Beautiful pieces.

  2. Wonderful collection of ornaments. They are pretty lovely.

  3. Thank you everyone! Glad you like the pieces and our story……thank you Aurum!! And Ladies, would love to see you at the trunk show if you are in Brooklyn this weekend!

  4. Love the second picture with the silver bracelets…very elegant! Thanks for sharing Manreet’s story.

  5. Bold, chunky and elegant

  6. Bravo, to yet another great interview. I felt like I was a server at the dinner, refilling the water glasses at the right time and listening to an awesome convo, while reading this post. I like how the bangle/bracelet rest on Manreet’s arm in the last photo. I can’t stop looking at it.

  7. Beautiful work! Thanks @aurumeve…im a new fan!

  8. Beautiful pieces! I especially love the stack of bronze and silver ones.

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  1. MUST SEE: Manifest Design Trunk Show with the one and only Calabar Imports! | AurumEve.com

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