A flourish seen on traditional furniture from across Europe – particularly British, French and Swedish – lines of brass studding lend a design an antique air. From the Astor ottomans to the Rouen stools, this longstanding technique is one of our favourite finishing touches.
“We asked Bheemraj what his favourite part of his job is. Instead of naming a specific process, he said: “Every part of your body is important, whether it’s your ear, your eye or your leg. Furniture is the same. It’s made up of many processes, each one is just as important as the others.”
“I’ve dressed smartly since I was a young guy. I don’t do it for the ladies though. Although, I could play on the tailor thing. Maybe offer measuring for blouses…”
“At lunchtime there’s always a lot of joking. The women huddle together and tease one another, especially about their husbands. Who has the smartest husband, and who doesn’t..! We all wear a lot of colour too. A workplace should be uplifting.”
At only 21 years old, Akbar is already deemed as one of the master carvers at the frame workshop. “I learnt a lot as a young man at home. There was an excellent carver in my village and he taught me everything he knew. He taught me about tools too, so I started collecting my […]
“I’m originally from Badmir where there’s very little rainfall. I used to have to walk 5-7km to get drinking water so I’m pretty tough. The temperature can reach 40 degrees there so there’s nothing in Jaipur that I can’t handle.”
Akbar hand-carves every one of our Rouen stools. He describes carving as a ‘divine art’. Literally, a blessed skill. He’s been doing it for over six years and it takes him two-three hours to carve a single stool.
Petite and perfectly formed, the Rouen was one of our earliest French-style pieces and remains one of our most-coveted designs to this day.
“The two prints I’ve produced for Swoon Editions form part of my Peggy collection; inspired by the life and work of Peggy Angus. I was inspired by the personality of her designs and the techniques she used. I’ve tried to maintain that same artisanal, hand-painted quality in my textiles.”
“Inspiration can definitely come from the unexpected, but I’m almost always influenced by my travels. My family moved a lot when I was younger and I often find elements of Middle Eastern and Nordic cultures wind their way into my designs – sometimes totally subconsciously.”
Sukesh, shrugs, smiles, and looks around the workshop; the freshly dyed yarn hangs bright against its white walls. “I love colour,” he says, a simple yet honest answer. “This is my favourite colour,” he tells us, patting the traditional South Indian sarong he wears. “Orange.”
Preman looks us straight in the eye and says, “my wife’s colourful saris. She’s so vibrant.” He continues to talk about his wife; we don’t even need to ask questions. You can’t help but feel moved by such a display of unabashed affection.
“I’ve been here for twenty years,” Rageevan says with pride. “Coming to work here was one of the best decisions I ever made. When I came here, I met the woman I would marry.”
“Not as often as I would like,” Sajna tells us as we walk from her living room into the neighbouring textile workshop she runs with her husband. It’s where our Duck Egg Blue cotton fabric is made. “You’d be surprised. Not many people around here do. I’m one of the few people I know who […]
“My daughter’s name is Ameya – it means immeasurable.” Vidya tells us. “Do you know what else is immeasurable?” We offer examples but she shakes her head before beaming at us. “Love.”
Usman is small in stature, with quick movements and a broad smile. He nods his head in answer to our question. “Yes, I’m married,” he says. “It’s a good thing too. If I wasn’t,” he pulls at his clothing, “the women would be tearing my clothes off!”
“No.” Ram Rich Pal Singh has an abrupt way of speaking, but it’s not without warmth. “I was in the paramilitary for 22 years,” he tells us. “After I retired, it wasn’t long before I got sick of sitting around the house. “He bangs his hand on the table for emphasis. “I think it’s better […]
Late afternoon sunlight streams into the workshop, Satya uprights himself from the electric saw and gives us a sober look. “I come from the Rajputs caste, the warrior caste,” he says. “Most of my family is in the army.” We ask him if he’d prefer to be in the army, he smiles and shakes his […]
Vijay has a big smile. He’s the workshop’s self-styled joker, the one who brightens everyone’s day. “My Guru brought me here. We came from the same neighbourhood in Uttar Pradesh. He was the one who suggested I learn upholstery and I’m so grateful that I did.”
It’s almost impossible to get Salim to speak or smile at first. He presented us with a tough exterior, but once peeled away, his softness, and not to mention, his ambition, is clear. “One day, I’d like to be a contractor, I’d like to be my own boss, to lead.”
The young carpenter seems shy at first. “Dancing”, one of his colleagues offers up, which produces a chuckle from Surendra. “It’s true,” he says. “I love dancing. When I’m moving to the music…” — he sways a little for emphasis — “…It makes me laugh. It makes me happy.”
Surrounded by towers of mango wood planks Sohan, a carpenter in the wood workshop, hand-selects the best pieces destined for the Lille armchair. Studying them, he visualises how many of the armchair’s parts can be cut out without wasting any of the wood. Once satisfied, he takes his collection of stencils and begins to trace. […]
“That’s when my friends and I play kabaddi,” he says, referring to the contact sport that originated in Ancient India and is now an internationally played game. “I’m pretty good at it.” He grins. “I’ve suffered minor bruises but that’s OK, it’s worth it. I’ll always take one for the team.”
The radio is playing in the background in the upholstery workshop. MD smiles, “I like pop music,” he says. “Indian pop music and even American pop music. I don’t understand the language but I like the tune, and the sound of the music. I like to sing too, but I’m not very good,” he grins. […]