#handmade furniture

3 years ago · 7 min read
Under the spotlight: screen-printing.

The most defining feature of our Sahara chest of drawers is the screen-printed patterns. One of the earliest methods of printing, dating back over two thousand years, it brings an ethnic, folkish feel to this otherwise mid-century shaped design.

3 years ago · 7 min read
Under the spotlight: the art of weaving.

The artisan weavers chat quietly to each other as they sit in pairs. They work in tandem, the Golden Chevron pattern of our Lombard rug creeping steadily up the loom. A craft and a complicated science, people have been weaving for thousands of years. Ambrish Bharti, one of our leading loom artisans, tries to explain […]

4 years ago · 7 min read
Fanny Shorter – designer.

“Classic, greenhouse, disco.” says textile designer Fanny Shorter when asked how she thinks people would sum up her eye-catching fabrics in three words.

4 years ago · 7 min read
Harry Worth – lead in-house designer.

“I remember the day that my first Swoon design sold out – the Ando. It’s been the most rewarding day for me so far. It’s a piece that I’d sketched a couple of years ago but I’d never been able to develop it. I have more freedom here. Calculated risk is encouraged. It was a welcome relief to know […]

4 years ago · 7 min read
Dinesh, 45 – carpenter.

“Carpentry has been in my family for generations. I’ve been around it from a very early age, picking up skills as I got older. It’s more than a job for me. I even have my own band saw at home.”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Kanharam, 21 – stainer.

“My outlook on life is simple. I’m happy to take life as it comes. I approach life with this line in my head: ‘I’ve put my boat in the water, let the water decide where it moves.’”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Sanna Naapuri – designer.

“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.”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Hastaram, 22 – sander.

Hastaram actually means ‘laughing man’. But when we talk to Hastaram, we soon learn he’s a serious character. He laughed when we asked to take his photograph though.

4 years ago · 7 min read
Harivansh, 31 – welder.

“I love history and I love travel. I grew up in Uttar Pradesh, but then travelled with a group of friends. We came to Jaipur a few years ago to explore its history. The fort and the palace are my favourite places here.” We asked him where his favourite place is in the world, but […]

4 years ago · 7 min read
Bhawanai, 25 – sander.

We asked Bhawani about the amulet around his neck. “It’s actually a locket, filled with hand-written scriptures that have been blessed by a priest to ward off the devil. I was given it 12 years ago and have worn it ever since.”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Anil, 34 – head of quality control.

“I check everything. Only when I’m really proud of something will I put my signature to it.” Even as we’re speaking, Anil’s eye remains on the designs being inspected around him.

4 years ago · 7 min read
Sumer, 28 – painter.

I moved from my home in Mandawa when I’d just turned twenty. It’s a place of strong community, so it makes the distance easy to cope with. My childhood friends are still my friends. Phones help too, but it can be hard to end a call sometimes. 15 minutes later and I’m still there.”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Shrawan – wood artisan.

Shrawan showed us a little wooden tractor that he made in his spare time. “It reminds me of being at home. We have two cows there – we call them ‘mother cows’ because they’re sacred. They make our house holy.”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Shersingh – screen printer.

“I come from Mandawa which has a tradition of painting houses with frescos. They’re like mural paintings. People from Mandawa tend to learn to paint very easily. It’s like we have inherited knowledge of it.”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Wen, Gui Xiang, 45 – carpenter.

“I hate having my picture taken – I get very shy! I love to take pictures though, especially of my grandchildren. My son, his wife and their two kids live here with me. Thankfully, I get on really well with my daughter-in-law. She met my son in Guangdong through matchmakers.”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Mei Li Jing, 59 – wood washer.

“My husband and I scrimped and scraped to put our girls through school, and now they’re both in their 30s. My elder daughter works in Shanghai and my younger one’s a nurse in the city. They don’t come home very often, but we speak every night on the phone. We’re very close”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Đāo, 30 – seamstress.

“My favourite thing to do on pay day is to buy myself some gold jewellery. My husband only owns one gold ring, but he’s very understanding of my habit and saves up to buy me things too.”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Hai, 37 – upholsterer.

“I had a near-death experience in 2000. I came off of my bike in front of a car. I smashed my arm and chest and was in a coma for 15 days. But when my girlfriend came to visit she yelled at me to wake up. So I did. Then I married her!”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Vuong – button maker.

“I was born in the year of the goat. It happened to be the year that Tet celebrations took place this February. What happens during Tet is very important – it sets up what’s to come for the rest of the year. My Tet holiday didn’t go so well.”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Banke Kuku, designer.

“My designs tell stories about west Africa. When people are attracted to a piece, they’ll ask what inspired it. Beauty draws people in. It gives me the opportunity to discuss native parables and current issues on the continent. I always hope that when people hear them, they’ll want to help in the way I do.”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Nhut, 30 – designer of the Erika collection.

“I trained as an interior designer in Vietnam, but really wanted to learn more. I thought working on furniture would be a good stepping-stone. Six and a half years later though and I’m still designing furniture. I just love it. It’s my calling.”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Thăng, 40 – upholsterer.

“There’s no point in stressing about life. Every situation has a solution, and if you stay calm and let time pass, you’ll figure it out.”

4 years ago · 7 min read
Phong, 30 – upholsterer.

“I dyed my hair myself with henna for the Lunar New Year and girls seem to like it.” Phong is the workshop heart throb. Several of the women had mentioned him to us. We could tell just from the way he walked.

4 years ago · 7 min read
He, Zhen Jun – joiner.

“I started at the workshop six months ago. I used to work the 700km Guangzhou to Xiamen route as a truck driver. It was exhausting. We did eight-hours-on, eight-hours-off shifts the whole time. The worst part was that I could only come home once a year to visit my wife and son. Now I see […]

5 years ago · 7 min read
Truong – frame constructor.

“When I’m not working, I spend most of my time playing football. I’m a fan of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester United. My favourite player is Messi because he’s so passionate. I’d love to be like him.”

5 years ago · 7 min read
Ciara Phelan, designer.

“When I founded Kith and Kin, I wanted to create a brand that not only creates fun, quality pieces, but that also gives back to the community. There’s a lot of pressure on companies these days to produce cheaper designs, but we’ll always remain true to our ethics. We’re currently working with a charity called […]

5 years ago · 7 min read
Giāo, 45 – leg sander.

“It doesn’t take me long to get to work – I live just 500m away amongst the shrimp ponds and rice fields. I’ve lived there my whole life.”

5 years ago · 7 min read
Chuyên, 29 – frame constructor.

“I’ve been working here for three years, since I left my hometown in the south to come to Saigon. I used to look after baby shrimp in the delta, getting them to grow up big and fat.”