Amidst the frequent bustle of Jaipur’s C-Scheme neighbourhood, there lies an alleyway leading up to yet another commercial building studded with subleased banks and offices. There, in front of an obscure white building is a black iron railing that cascades up a stairway that ends at a landing. The doorway lacks a signage, and I begin to think I am in the wrong building, before Arushi, the younger of the two Madhok sisters steps out. She’s in the middle of a phone call, waving and beckoning me to come in. Two steps into the door, and I am engulfed in a different world, of artisanal trunks and nostalgia that doesn’t percolate to its passerby’s in the slightest. A pastel coloured lobby welcomes me in, with a trunk accented at the centre of lounge chairs. Further inside, there are yet more trunks dominating the center of seating arrangements, and in one prominent corner of the room against the backdrop of a large bay window, I see a large work desk headed by two executive chairs instead of one. This chic workspace jointly belongs to Aaditi and Arushi Madhok-my childhood family friends and more notably, the co-founders of Tronc&Co.
Over a casual rendezvous over cups of green tea with the Madhok sisters, we discussed everything from spiritual retreats to post-pandemic tourism, pet peeves at design exhibitions to Aaditi Jija’s newly found fascination towards political firebrand Mahua Moitra. But most significantly, I learned some interesting insights into their entrepreneurial story as India’s very first creators of bespoke luxury trunks. Thus culminated Aaditi & Arushi Madhok’s very first feature with Rajputana Collective.
“Tronc&Co. Was born out of a love for trunks, boxes and the associated nostalgia. Usually, the trunks that one sees predominating the market are highly androgynous in their appearance. Contrary to standing out, they just blend right in. With Tronc&Co., we wanted to design pieces that are both feminine and high on design in ways that make them stand out from the rest”, begins Aaditi Madhok. In a renewed birthing era of Jaipur’s independent design labels, Tronc&Co. shares not only its native place with the likes of Kesya, Polofactory and Dhora, but also its co-foundation by a pair of entrepreneurs. However, while their contemporaries have spelt vogue within existing design tropes, Tronc&Co. has embarked upon an unchartered territory in this regard. In other words, Aaditi & Arushi are markedly the first designer duo to reclaim an article as undermined as the trunk and rethink its aesthetic and functionality at an entirely different paradigm altogether.
In an elaboration, Arushi says, “The scope of trunks is immense. They can be used for both,
storage as well as furniture or accent pieces. A trunk can be designed to look like an antique or an ultra-modern piece. A trunk is both luxurious and functional- at Tronc&Co. we believe a trunk can transform any space- large or small. Our design sensibility is a take on antique prints whereby we re-imagine and re-work nostalgia with a dash of the whimsical.” Having had pursued a designing course at Raffles, Singapore, the younger Madhok imparts her own flair onto the young venture.
Aaditi & Arushi jointly emphasise upon their design values that revolve around uniquely customised products based exclusively on the client’s requirements. The bespoke factor of their products is what they believe makes Tronc&Co. a truly unique experience for the buyer. Upon being asked, they even share the experience of their first order commissioned to Tronc&Co. “Our first order was for a hand-painted gun case, and we were over the moon. That feeling of heading to work with a clear purpose was almost a heady feeling. We had to educate ourselves on guns and the working structure of a gun case, which was very interesting. The fact that this gun case turned out beautifully got us many more orders, and that was incredibly rewarding”, they recall.
Today, Tronc&Co.’s design inventory consists of not only trunks and gun cases, but also watch and jewelry boxes and bespoke handbags. The latter has gained immense popularity off late, and its rare value resides in the Madhoks’ commitment towards never repeating a design for two orders. Hence, each one of their handiworks tells its own story that is impossible to be reenacted by another. All their products are handcrafted in Jaipur from start to finish. “After the drawing board, production starts with the team of carpenters who craft the piece by hand. Then, the piece goes to the polishing unit for base preparation, allowing our team of artists to start with the artwork. Thereafter, it is sent back to the polishing unit for a multilayer lacquer finish. Lastly, the bells and whistles from our specially designed brassware are installed”, Arushi explains.
Exploring the advantages and limitations of working in a partnership venture, I ask them about their experience of co-working as sisters. “Working with my sister has been an absolute pleasure, having a shared childhood and shared experiences and values makes it so much easier to work together. Though we are two very different people, our core values are aligned and that makes all the difference. Being able to share our accomplishments and fulfill our dreams together could never be the same as anyone else”, Aaditi, who is older than Arushi by 7 years eloquently concludes.
As they put together vision boards for new handbag designs, the duo at Tronc&Co. earnestly shares a more futuristic dream- “We hope to someday have stores in New York, London and Milan. To have our handbags showcased at Fashion Week is a big dream for us. Most importantly, we wish for Tronc&Co. to grow from strength to strength, to be synonymous with top quality and ultimate craftsmanship.”