From Seed to Cup

Best paired with our column on coffee sustainability this issue, is a story about a bean.

In the age of mass retailers churning out products relentlessly, OLIO designers Aashna Singh and Sneha Saksena prefer instead to tell stories, and shorter stories. "The story format allows us to be dynamic, shifting our beat with changing seasons and trends, while staying true to our rhythm. Short stories are capsule collections, released every few months, allowing us the freedom to experiment with design. They will bring more collaborations, experiments with different product categories, and limited edition collections.

People also love being told a story. We don't want to just sell you a dress, we want to take you on a journey. "

True enough, OLIO's newest short story, is inspired by the journey of coffee from seed to cup. We spoke to co-founder Aashna Singh about bean.

What sparked the inspiration for this collection?

We'd been approached to do collaborations in the past but this happened in the best way a collaboration could - organically. We hang out at Blue Tokai a lot. It's our current favourite place in Delhi. We got talking with Matt [Chitharanjan] and Rhea [Sanghi] who had seen our sushi and fried egg dresses, and wondered if we'd like to do a beverage inspired one - a coffee collection! And we ran with it. We studied the journey of the bean from seed to cup - the beautiful evolution of colour, through drying, roasting and grinding, as it evolves from a deep burgundy to a desert sand, to a whole wheat beige to cocoa brown, whilst steadfastly maintaining its tough exterior - and 'bean' was born. They say inspiration can make you do 2 weeks worth of work in 2 days and that's exactly what happened.


What are your two favourite pieces in bean?

1. bean button dress! For two reasons: it's our favourite silhouette currently, we've literally made this in multiple fabrics for us to wear daily. And our favourite detail from the collection - the bean button. We got coffee bean buttons cast in metal! We're all about minimal details that take you by surprise.

2. cortado co-ord set! Firstly it's so fun to say. We've been wanting to do a co-ordinates set for a while, and this was the last sample made for bean - I didn't even see it till we were shooting it. Again, it's easy, it's comfy and incorporates all three OLIO tenets: geometric patterns, simple shapes and functional silhouettes.


You just had a little pop up shop in Blue Tokai's Delhi roastery and cafe. How did it go?

Blue Tokai gave us free reign over the cafe for the weekend. It's a small space but we designed simple installations so you could experience 'bean'. On the walls we had wooden circles painted in the colours of the bean as it evolves from seed to roasted bean, and three simple stands leaning against the wall, with a geometric block at its end to display the clothing.

Outside we did a fried egg installation because that collection Sunny Side / Up is on sale. Plus what goes better with eggs than a cup of coffee 😃 (Ed's note: Pizza and cake.)

The event was so great. A lot of our customers discovered them, and vice versa. I ODed on the coconut mocha.


Shop bean at