Bountiful and diverse, Indian crafts are the result of the individualized expression of creativity from the people of different regions, that have been honed and perfected over hundreds of years. TIHG brings to you 6 contemporary brands that are breathing new life into these age-old crafts by changing their context and yet retaining their vibrant and earthy charm.
1. Sarthak Sengupta & Sahil Bagga, Co-Founders, Sarthak Sahil Design Co
With the aim of narrating human stories of artisans and craftspeople, Sahil and Sarthak created their company where almost all products are handmade by master artisans who channelize their skills and learning passed down by generations of practice. They highlight that unlike common perception “the artisans we work with function like modern-day industrial designers. They pay attention to every detail, optimize production by proposing creative ideas and strongly believe in saving resources and following sustainable processes.” Guided by their skills, Sarthak and Sahil endeavour to use re-contextualization and reinterpretation to keep these arts and crafts meaningful for the contemporary user.
2. Parth Parikh, Founder and Creative Director, Design Clinic India
Wanting to create contemporary products that incorporate Indian art, crafts and local scenarios, Parth feels grateful to have the rich reservoir of priceless handmade crafts in India. Cognizant of the importance of craftspeople to this process, he states, “books are actually a source of reference which can teach you the basics about anything in particular but the real knowledge is when you sit initially with the craftsman and talk to him face to face also understand the tools which he uses to create a beautiful piece of the story.” And this is what fuels his designs and their beauty forward.
3. Smita Thapar and Moksh Thapar, Co-Founders, STUDIO Smitamoksh
Smita and Moksh are clear that they design by using the intelligence of nature with technology, making it their mission to tap into traditional wisdom and celebrate it in today’s context. Crafts to them are the ultimate inspiration as “they evolve through ages and through constant interaction with people, society, culture, geography, weather and many other factors, just like the stones in the path of a river. Similarly, a craft takes its perfect shape over time through repeated interaction with factors influencing it and finally, it takes a shape which is in perfect sync with surrounding environments and users”, thus making them precious.
4. Geetanjali Kasliwal and Ayush Kasliwal, Co-founders, AnanTaya
Geetanjali and Ayush Kasliwal feel that India is an endless treasure trove of inspiration and yet, unfortunately, integrating tradition into design hasn’t been extensively utilized. Therefore they made sure that the principle behind the brand would be to remain rooted in humility while retaining a deep appreciation for an aesthetic that is truly Indian. They proudly point out that “we live in an incredible country, and crafts of some form or the other are practices throughout its expanse. As a design entrepreneur it is evidently the lowest hanging fruit, and also one that draws upon our culture, making it familiar to all of us. The bridge between design and craft is all that was needed to be built.”
5. Shibani Jain, Founder and CEO, Baaya Design
For Shibani the motivation for design is the love for crafts which got anchored during her studies at NID, Ahmedabad, but she vividly remembers her visit to the Jabalpur rocks as a child was when crafts first called out to her. She eventually left her corporate job in digital media, to start working in the interior design space to make innovations to artisan skills that uplift both the artisans and their art forms. She reveals, “this is why I love being in the handicrafts space – new discoveries and journeys await all the time. There is learning, challenges, creativity and the satisfaction of doing something important with the incredible skills that our artisans possess.”
6. Catherine Trotman, Creative Head of Home and Lifestyle, Fabindia
Fabindia has a 60-year-old heritage based on the incredible craft base of India. Giving insight behind the reason for this, Catherine points out “traditional craft underpins nearly every decision we make around a product and is an integral part of the DNA of the brand. And integral to this is the relationships that they have formed with artists, who have taught them what is immeasurable. For her it is “in a word, ‘emotion’. It is the deeply personal connection that the artisans have with their craft that a book can never convey. Many of the craft processes are very repetitive and rhythmic, bringing with them a meditative quality which can only be experienced first hand.”