“Can you tell that my core-identity is homesickness?” laughs Sana Javeri Kadri, a 29-year-old Mumbai native who now lives in Oakland, California. “Every time I visit Mumbai, I cart back some outlandish thing, like my grandmother’s ceramic pickling jars.” Here, the Diaspora Co. founder gives us a tour of the two-bedroom home she shares with a roommate…
LIVING / DINING AREA
Sofa: Floyd. Chaise: Floyd. Coffee table: Dirk van der Kooij. Pink armchair: sidewalk find. Brass lamp: West Elm. Plants: Home Depot, Blk Girls Green House, East Bay Nursery, and rooted.
On finding the place: During the pandemic, my partner at the time and I lived in a one-bedroom apartment in East Oakland. We were looking for a house with outside space, where our dog could play fetch and we could sit outside and breathe. When we first saw this house, it had a dog door and met all our criteria. So, we moved here in August 2020.
On new chapters: When my ex moved out last year, it was a tough transition. I’m not great at living alone; I’m definitely an ‘everybody hang together’ person. I ended up living solo for eight months until my friend Marel moved in. And it’s funny because she doesn’t like being by herself either. Whenever we’re both home, we always gravitate to the same room, even if we’re doing different things. When she’s gone for even one night, I’m like, ‘Marel? Can you come back now???’
Leaning wall shelf: Design Within Reach. Diaspora Co. sign: Kafeel Artist, “an iconic Mumbai illustrator.”
On market finds: My mom and I found a pair of wooden Devi and Deva heads at Chor Bazaar, one of the largest flea markets in India. My mom now has the red Deva in Mumbai, and I have this yellow Devi. They came from a temple that was being demolished, and I like thinking they act as portals between each of our homes.
Pencil: Chor Bazaar in Mumbai. Alligator: Barefoot, “a wonderful textile store in Sri Lanka.”
On childhood memories: When we took this ice-cream photo, I was three years old. My dad and I are going to recreate it on my next trip home. He’s even growing out his mustache for it!
Table: WAKA WAKA. Table runner: Block Shop. Dining chairs: Dusen Dusen. Bookshelves: Floyd. Chandelier: West Elm, similar.
On a dream realized: I’ve always been a cookbook nerd. When I was 16, my mom and I were visiting San Francisco for the first time, and we walked into Omnivore Books. I thought, ‘One day I’ll have a cookbook here.’ Today that feels full circle because in 2025 we’ll be publishing The Diaspora Cookbook.
Tiger salt cellar: Diaspora Co.
On using your cookbooks: I have an app called Eat Your Books, which creates a visual index of all your cookbooks. So, if I have cauliflower in my fridge, I’ll just type in ‘cauliflower,’ and it’ll give me a list of all the cauliflower recipes in my cookbooks; then I’ll pull a book based on that.
Tiger mask: a craft shop in Myanmar. Bar cart: sidewalk find.
On tasty cocktails: Right now, India is making some of the best gins in the world; I bring back four bottles every time I go. A fun party trick is pulling them all out and doing a taste test with friends. My favorite is Pumori — it’s very cardamon forward. After a long day, I like making gin-based dirty martinis, then stirring it with a pickle. I know it’s excessive, but it’s so yummy.
Illustration of women hugging: Manjit Thapp.
On settling in: Decorating was slow-paced — we didn’t hang an overhead light for seven months after moving in. I like to scout for pieces on the sidewalk, and that takes time. Sometimes if I spot something I love, I’ll pick it up and it’ll live in the garage for a couple of months. Then when I’m ready, I’ll pull it out and it fits in perfectly.
Cabinet paint: Benjamin Moore Forest Green. Dish rack: Yamazaki.
On weekend rituals: When I have free time, I hang out in the kitchen. On Sunday nights, I always make a big salad and a broth and invite friends over. My table comfortably fits six but we’ve pretty regularly stretched it to 14! We’ll just push the couch against the wall, add a folding table to the end of the dining table, and cover them both with tablecloths.
Spices: Diaspora Co. Brass dabba: Diaspora Co. Chili oil: Fly By Jing.
On crowd-pleasing recipes: My favorite recipe is biryani, 100%. It’s a big pot of saffron rice that is cooked with spices, plus lamb, chicken, beef or vegetables. You’re basically trying to get the meat falling-off-the-bone tender and the rice perfectly distinct. You serve it in a big earthen pot that you place on the table, and when you open it up all this steam comes out. It’s all very magical.
Paint: Benjamin Moore Hot Lips, “hot pink is a very Indian color and is frequently used on walls across Mumbai.” Desk: sidewalk find. Tiger sculpture: Hla Day. Tiger jar: Hla Day. Floating shelf: West Elm. Sana Kadri illustration: Meenal Patel, “Meenal included this portrait of me in her book, Stories for South Asian Super Girls.” Matriarchy print: George McCalman.
On tigers: When you’re Indian and growing up in America, tigers and elephants might feel like these very clichéd symbols of India. But in Mumbai, I grew up visiting Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan with a lot of tigers. My parents also sang me a made-up nursery rhyme that involved me being fierce like a tiger. So, tigers were a big part of my childhood. Now, when I see a beautifully crafted tiger piece while traveling, I’ll pick it up.
On working from home: I started my company soon after college on a shoestring with no money or budget. For a long time, Diaspora Co. was just me in my living room. We grew a ton during the pandemic, so it turned into me and our team on Zoom, and then all of us working out of my home. Since my house has a kitchen, and it’s already in Diaspora Co. colors, it never felt worth it to pay a bunch of money to have an office. We’ve had chaotic recipe testing days and product shoots here, and we’ve become experts in using every corner of the space. Plus, I think some of the best creativity happens when you’re backed up against a wall and have to make it work.
Bedspead: Bed Thread. Rug: Block Shop. Surfing print: Leah Reena Goren. Drapery: Target.
On a bedtime ritual: Honestly, in the evenings I scroll TikTok in bed until I get tired. Cute puppy and baby content are key to turning off my brain.
Bedspread: Bed Thread. Night stand: Valyou sold out, similar. Desk lamp: Conway Electric. Dumpling night light: Smoko Book: 100 Queer Poems.
On creating a home away from home: I grew up in a big mixed family — we’re Hindu, Muslim, and Jain; from North India and South India — and different parts of my family have a hard time understanding each other. There’s been a lot of opposition and conflict. But food is the connector. For family get togethers, people come from all over with their signature dishes. Nowadays, there’s a wanting in me to recreate that feeling. Most of my friends are fellow immigrants in their late twenties, alone in a new country. So, we’re finding a home together here by eating dinner in community. Even if it’s exhausting, I like making my house a meeting place so I can have that little feeling once a week.
Thank you so much Sana, we love your home! You can follow her on Instagram, if you’d like.
P.S. More house tours, including a Minnesota house with an adorable dog and a family home in the Japanese countryside.
(Photos by Melati Citrawireja.)