#French Style

5 years ago · 7 min read
Julie Kouamo, Designer Editions artisan.

“I just love the traditional features of the Juliette bench. I chose it for my collaboration because it contrasts so beautifully with my exotic, contemporary print. The greens reference the lush landscapes of Cameroon. It’s where my dad’s from.”

5 years ago · 7 min read
Wu, Cong Yan, 39 – Sander.

“I grew up in Guangxi where the air is good and you’re surrounded by mountains. I just loved playing in the mountains. Those kinds of things really inform who you are. We go back to visit once a year.”

5 years ago · 7 min read
Under the spotlight: hand-carving the Juliette’s legs.

We recognise the entrance to the carving section of the workshop before it’s pointed out to us. Stacks of legs for our Juliette bench sit piled up on either side of the door, giving it away better than any sign could. They arrive turned, ready for our artisans to artfully carve out the details that give […]

5 years ago · 7 min read
Ge, Xiao Xie, 44, seamstress.

“I was born in an area with lots of mountains, trees and rolling hills. I used to sit and do my homework in the shade of a tree, looking up at a mountain. It sounds very romantic now but I didn’t enjoy studying – I only did what I had to do!”

5 years ago · 7 min read
Do you have any children?

“I have one daughter,” Xing Ping tells us. Then, smiling playfully, he holds up his index finger, making his point clear – “She’s a naughty one!”

5 years ago · 7 min read
Tell us something interesting about your village.

“Everybody in my village has one of two surnames – Long or Yang. I’m a Long and my wife is a Yang. It’s not controversial, there’s no Long-Yang blood feud or anything! In fact, before anyone gets married they have to check with the village authorities to prevent crossing bloodlines.”

5 years ago · 7 min read
What do you enjoy the most about your job?

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.”

5 years ago · 7 min read
What makes you smile?

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.

5 years ago · 7 min read
How long have you worked here?

“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.”

5 years ago · 7 min read
You live so close to the beach; do you go there often?

“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 […]

5 years ago · 7 min read
Tell us about your daughter.

“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.”

5 years ago · 7 min read
Are you married?

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!”

5 years ago · 7 min read
Have you always been an upholsterer?

“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 […]

5 years ago · 7 min read
From fruit to furniture: the magic of mango wood.

The central building of the mango wood workshop is surrounded by an outdoor area, in which young mango trees grow. These particular trees, their leaves dusted with a fine coating of sawdust, aren’t here to be harvested. They’re a symbol for the carpenters and the carvers: men from Uttar Pradesh who honed their skills on […]

5 years ago · 7 min read
Tell us about yourself.

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 […]

5 years ago · 7 min read
Hand-crafted from start to finish – crafting the Claude petite chest.

Luna runs his hand over the freshly cut curves of the Claude petite chest’s front. The shape is serpentine, undulating elegantly. “This is one of my favourite pieces to make,” he says. “Specifically because of the curves in the drawer front. As a carpenter, making something clean and straight is nice, but it doesn’t compare […]

5 years ago · 7 min read
How did you come to be an upholsterer?

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.”

5 years ago · 7 min read
What would you like to achieve in the future?

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.”

5 years ago · 7 min read
What makes you laugh?

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.”

5 years ago · 7 min read
The finer details – the art of carving wood.

The syncopated tapping of wooden hammers comes from a shady outdoor area of the mango wood workshop in Jaipur. Here we meet many artisans who hail from the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Known for its forests, most of the mango wood and rosewood used in the workshop comes from there – as do […]

5 years ago · 7 min read
Tell us about yourself.

Luna has a naturally happy disposition. His colleagues claim he’s the joker. “I come from the Khati caste, it means carpenter. I love making all the furniture.” He drags out ‘all’ for emphasis – “allll the furniture.”

5 years ago · 7 min read
Under the spotlight: From raw cotton to finished fabric.

In the Blow Room the doors to the outside are open, revealing the intense greenery of tropical southern India. The thick heat wafts into the room, enveloping us in an instant. Women flock to the open bundles of compressed cotton. They start to prepare it, getting it ready for the machine that will move slowly […]

5 years ago · 7 min read
Hand-crafted from start to finish – crafting the Lille armchair.

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. […]

5 years ago · 7 min read
How did you come to be a colour master?

“I used to be an artist, a painter of miniature Mughal art that’s particularly popular in southern Asia. After a while the market for that kind of work fell, so I’ve been searching for a role where I could still work with paint and with colour. Now I believe I was born to be a […]