The journey begins.
Bumping around in the back of a 4×4 as we make our way from one artisan workshop to another, the incessant beeping of car horns ringing out in the slow-moving Indian traffic, Debbie smiles.
“This trip is incredible,” she muses.
Debbie is the Swoon Editions co-founder. Over the past three years she’s been to India 23 times. “But,” she says. “None of those visits have been like this one.”
Humans of Swoon Editions, a blog that aims to introduce the personalities behind the Editions, came out of Debbie’s fascination with the many people who drive the designs she selects on her numerous research, buying, and quality control trips.
“Everything is a thoughtless commodity now – we want to show people the hands and the faces behind their products. We want to introduce them to the personalities. We want to humanise furniture.”
Debbie is always blown away by the amount of skill involved in the crafting of a piece of furniture. Many of the skills are traditional, passed down through the generations, some of them stretching back as far as the 16th century.
“This trip has been dedicated to meeting our artisans. We’ve spent hours in the workshops observing wood carvers and have travelled out to remote villages where livelihoods are made from the art of weaving, or block printing, or indigo dyeing.”
“The way they work with such speed, and such accuracy – their skill – leaves me in such awe.”
“We want to understand these traditional skills and develop products with them in mind, that way, we can help keep traditional craft alive.”
Debbie’s goal is to meet every single artisan who plays a part in the making of the pieces we sell at Swoon Editions. From the manual labourers and the apprentices, to the designers and the most skilled artisans. As she points out – “People don’t realise how many hands are involved in the making of a pouffe, a side table, a chair. And for me, it’s finding out things like that which make me fall even more in love with a design. It’s about connection.’
While the goal is ambitious, she hopes the personal stories in Humans of Swoon Editions will add an extra special quality to the furniture for her customers.
“I want our customers to feel like they’ve been transported to an exotic place. Give them that experience of having picked up a treasure on their travels. Leave them with a story to tell.”
“This isn’t just about skill, it’s about getting to know the people. Uncovering their personalities, learning about their lives, their families, their culture, discovering their happiest moments and their saddest.”
“There have been moments where we’ve all laughed together and there have been moments when we’ve all welled up with tears. It’s been so real, so human, and that’s been the best part about this.”
Start meeting our artisans here.
Debbie Williamson, Swoon Editions co-founder, 38