Dabu printing – we can’t get enough of it. Our obsession du moment, it’s the magic behind the gorgeous patterns you see on Bohemian soft furnishings.
“Working has always been a way of exploring the world.” The sentence that sticks when I’m talking to Abi, Swoon’s Manufacturing Manager based in India.
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 […]
Prem studied geography for his degree. He graduated from Barmer in 2012 but decided academia wasn’t for him so moved to Jaipur to be closer to his two brothers. He started working at the workshop two years ago.
“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.”
“Challenges to me are a philosophical thing. Everything can be easy, and everything can be difficult. It all depends on how you approach things.”
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.
“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 […]
A design with a real story to tell, our Sahara collection is made by our artisans in Jodhpur, India. Go behind the scenes to discover how we make the chest of drawers design – a statement piece for bedrooms, dining rooms and even living rooms alike.
“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.
One of our most-coveted industrial designs, each and every Orson stool is entirely hand-made. Available as a bar and kitchen stool and in various finishes, discover its journey from raw planks of mango wood and ribbons of steel to a catwalk-worthy statement piece.
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.”
Inside the wood store timber is stacked in its thousands. “To some, the wood store may be intimidating. I like to think of myself as its master.”
Moving her arm back and forth, the back end of a hammer wrapped around an old nail, Fu Jiao yanks the metal out of the wood plank. Sourced from irreparable homes anywhere between 40 and 100 years old, the reclaimed pine used in the making of the Marylebone desk must be washed, dried, and any […]
Mr Rambabu wears a look of intense concentration as he mixes natural indigo dye in a deep stone well. “Traditional. Definitely traditional,” he says, chuckling. “Technology can be too consuming. With mobile phones you’re expected to drop everything to answer. Sometimes I find it a bit too much.”
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.”
“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.”
We half expect Shivkumar to say ‘everything’, he’s been laughing and joking from the moment we meet. But he’s far more specific. “My children,” he says. “Their laughter. If I hear them laughing, it makes me laugh too.”
Ambrish possesses a wisdom and assertiveness that leaves you feeling as though you’re in the presence of someone much older. “Like a cook finds satisfaction in the obvious enjoyment of his guests,” he says, “I’m satisfied when others appreciate my creation.”
Manoj has a playful, almost flirtatious demeanour, like the world is his oyster and he’s ready to take it all. “I’m from a village called Basari and I travel into Jaipur for work every day. I like it better here. It’s a city; the culture is better and the opportunities are endless.”
They’re curled up on main streets amongst haphazardly parked tuk tuks, motorcycles and cars; they’re meandering slowly up urban alleys in the centre of busy towns; they’re roaming the highways that stretch for miles. Within hours of arriving, we realise that to travel through India is to walk with cows.
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!”
Wandering through workshops and people’s homes, on a journey to meet the artisans who craft our furniture, there was something other than a flourishing sense of passion and skill that stood out amongst the hand-crafted furniture – the powerful bonds of family. Siblings and cousins, husbands and wives, aunts and uncles, parent and child – […]
Girdhari is a lovely, personable man, and a natural with the camera. “I’m a photographer”, realising why he’s so comfortable being photographed, we all start to laugh. “I’m a wedding photographer on the side. Weddings are filled with such a sense of promise. I love to capture that.”
Munelal is cheeky and full of genuine cheer. We come upon him telling a story to one of his colleagues, he’s animated, and the other man is laughing. “I’ve been here for two years,” he says. “It’s a first class job. Great people, hard work,” he flexes his arms to show he’s strong. “I’ll retire […]
An ancient art form, an old science, using natural indigo pigments to dye fabrics has been practised in many countries, for thousands of years. Out of all of them, India stands as the oldest centre for the craft, with knowledge of their expertise known to even the ancient Egyptians. So when it came to the […]
Hariram looks up at the ceiling, the universal sign for thinking. The thought grasped, he turns his gaze on us. “Trying to find a good husband for my sister. She wanted to get married so much.” He explains. “And then I found someone perfect for her. I introduced them, and in a month, they’ll be […]
As we turn off the main road, the harsh hubbub of the traffic is replaced by the sing-song sound of hammer and chisel in a street lined with cosy little block-carving workshops. We make a beeline for the one run by Mullah-Ji, a fourth generation master block-carver known throughout Jaipur for his work. Surrounded by […]
“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 […]
Our textile designer inspects the vibrant and geometric pattern of the skirts that lie on the table beside him. “They’re vintage” – he tells us – “tribal skirts worn by the women in the mountains of Thailand.” As he speaks, he creates lines and circles, shading here and there. It’s hard to keep up with […]