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.
She’s dressed beautifully. “My bangles show I’m married. They’re part of the nine symbols of marriage. You’ll see them on any married woman here who honours the traditions.”
Mukesh didn’t want to be photographed alone. “I like to work with Bheemraj. I would be happier to be photographed with him.”
A craft that’s been honoured for thousands and thousands of years, sand casting is our choice of method for creating the brass plate-and-ring handles used on a number of our French and modern country-style pieces. It all takes place in our workshop dedicated purely to sand casting in Jaipur’s Old Town. Step inside.
“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’m the most senior artisan here. I have 40 years of experience and I teach everybody who is new; I think of them as my disciples. The ‘Ji’ part is added to my name as a mark of respect.”
“I’m the oldest employee at the workshop. I’ve worked there for 15 years. I’m proud of the journey I’ve made.”
“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…”
Rakesh is one of the shyest artisans we know. He barely made eye contact with us. But with the camera, he came out of his shell entirely.
“My name translates as ‘found out along the way’. It doesn’t sound beautiful like some Indian names. It doesn’t mean prince or sacred one, but to me it’s still blessed. It shows how my life is a journey.”
Mahaveer has been working on frame carpentry and joinery for over a decade. “Us older craftsmen have a duty and a process to follow that’s bigger than our day-to-day role. There’s a lack of technical education in India so we have to train the younger generation. We take care of our apprentices so they want […]
“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.”
Beautifully contoured legs have been commonplace in furniture design for thousands of years. You see it particularly with rustic, country designs like our Astor ottomans. Go behind the scenes of our wood workshop and watch the craft transform the mango wood base.
Tufting. Square, diamond, or buttoned, it’s an upholstery finishing technique that can transform a piece entirely. Our Astor ottomans are all diamond-tufted. Follow the hands that create its luxurious, pocketed effect.
Jolly was the word that sprung to mind when we interviewed Pukhraj. He told us about his necklace. “It has a gold medallion with Lord Hanuman on; he helps to keep evil away. I’ve had it for 13 years and it reminds me that God is always with me. I had it made by a […]
Pradeep has only been working at our carpentry workshop for a year. “My parents taught me to be a good disciple of craft. A good one learns fast, a lazy disciple learns slowly.”
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.
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’ve been running the sand-casting workshop for 24 years. It’s a family-run affair that was set up by my grandfather and will be taken over by my daughter, Sonya, one day. We’re very proud to be keeping history alive. It’s very important to protect traditional craft in India.”
“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.”
The petite Aimee is one of our all-time favourite French-style bedside tables. Made from mango wood, it’s available in various finishes including a lime-washed effect and a rustic sandblasted technique.
“I’m very house proud and like to shop at the markets, especially if there are weddings to prepare for. I went to a wedding last month and there were about 500 people there, all dancing. I love to dance.”
The piece with which our in-house designer, Harry, made his debut – it sold out within two days of its release. Mid-century in style, it was those beautifully louvered drawer panels that got us. Available in two finishes, we followed the making journey of the richly-coloured rosewood version.
Naresh spoke to us at length about his ‘pets’. He has two buffalo, a cow, and a goat. “It’s time consuming, but I have time to give. I believe in patience.”
“I have one son. His name is Yesh and he’s a historian. He took a path I didn’t expect him to take.”
We asked Ramcharan what he thought about traditional craft and the younger generation. It somehow turned into an extraordinary tale of pregnancy, elephants, snakes, camels, attracting a mate, and whether the summer was a good time to have babies. We didn’t quite understand how we got there.
“There’s a local tale that says if a wife is angry with her husband she won’t tell him. Instead, she’ll add more and more salt to his food. My food is always perfect. I hope that means my wife is happy.”
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.
“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.
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.”