There’s something to be said about the indefatigable human spirit. Even as an all-encompassing economic downturn poses a serious challenge for companies around the world to stay afloat, here are some entrepreneurs who are bent on expanding, innovating and rewriting the rules, despite the lockdown. From kickstarting a zero-waste label for this new conscious world to remodelling an existing business for the digital space, here are six design brands that are supporting local craftspeople and spreading the cheer into our homes.
LABxNeonAttic by Studio Neon Attic
It was in 2018 when Priya Ganesan and Rambha Seth came together to initiate Neon Attic, a chic design studio, which encompassed them to straddle labels like interior designer, furniture-maker, architect or artist, yet limiting themselves to none. But it was during the pandemic that this Chennai-based duo launched LAB, their furniture arm, along with the #LABMakesLocal initiative as responsible designers who wanted to do their part in supporting the dwindling and fragile industry of artisans shaken to the core during COVID (about 15 per cent of Indian craftspeople drop off annually to look at other forms of livelihood anyway). “We’ve identified a gap between what the artisans can make in authentic native forms, and the fact that those products do not fit into most of our modern homes,” shares Ganesan. “We felt that a design intervention would help bridge that gap.”
Art-like furniture pieces, inspired by a trip to Italy and presented in shades of pastel, comprise their debut collection. “We cannot afford to have artisans go unemployed if we want India’s crafts to remain alive,” shares Seth, who works with over 100 artisans from craft clusters in Karnataka (for lost wax technique bronze and brass sculpture), Bhadohi in Uttar Pradesh (for hand knotted and tufted carpets), Pondicherry (for artisanal hand-carved furniture), Kolkata (for natural fibrework), Goa (for ceramics and pottery) and Kashmir (for hand embroidery).
Cabinetry Cult and Sofas & More by Stanley
Stanley takes great pride in being India’s only fully integrated luxury lifestyle brand for 23 years. From sofas to tables, beds to mattresses, all their products are made in a five-lakh sqft designing and manufacturing facility in Bengaluru and sold online and across 14 showrooms in India. They’ve always placed great importance on automated precision manufacturing with artisanal handcraft skills, and it was this flexibility that birthed Cabinetry Cult despite a pandemic driven 2020. While most brands struggle to stay afloat in the face of a pandemic, Stanley’s lockdown expansion has seen the brand diversify into high quality and functional kitchen solutions, stunning wardrobes, dining ensembles, and other storage units (vanity/crockery and such-like).
The aesthetic is all about lacquer finishes in emerald green and high gloss ozone blue, touches of fluted or tinted toughened glass and marbles in Zerano sapphire, grey Carrara and gold rush Brazilian. Moon face onyx, copper handles and plinth, matte black and cast solid brass fittings, Black Diamond quartz countertops, vibrant blue and slate mathi inlays and accents in brushed steel complete their current collection. However, with the WfH momentum also came a growing demand for quality furniture in the mid to mid-high segment. And this prompted Stanley to launch its first omni-channel venture called Sofas & More—again, with the sole objective of making in India. Sofas & More expanded to open eight new showrooms across India over the last eight months of lockdown, and aims to open 100 stores by 2022. Expect an affordable range of walnut coffee tables in ceramic, ashwood and stone gloss body; and study desks in solid ashwood finished with hints of light blue bonded leather. There are side tables in white marble, arm chairs, delicate glass-topped dining tables, and sleek metal and MDF consoles. Genuine leather or leatherette sofas with electrically adjustable footrests and ornamental mirrors in veneer walnut finishing complete the living unit requirements.
Find them at Lovestanley.com
The brainchild of Mumbai-based Sarah Arora, this newly-launched eco-friendly brand thrives on a zero-waste philosophy by creating cushions, throws, pouffes and even board games from upcycle waste fabric. Arora, the young scion from the D’Decor family, doesn’t just repurpose scraps from her family’s textile empire, she is also leading an all-women team to create her thoughtful collection. While their debut collection is limited, and veers towards a classic palette of greys and beiges, it also comes with a personalising option that allows you to stitch in a name or message on cushions that make for customised gifts. Don’t miss their handmade Tic Tac Toe in sakura pink, the perfect antidote to our homebound lives.
WfH isn’t going away anytime soon, which is why Srila Chatterjee’s eclectic lifestyle store Baro Market has gone digital with a range of bespoke, small-batch, well priced and indigenously curated ‘requirements’. Her Mumbai store, which was a respiratory of Indian crafts now available to clientele not just in India, but around the world.
Featuring a host of ethically sourced products from over 60 artists, artisans and grassroots craftsmen across India, Baro’s online marketplace features handcrafted stationery, laptop cases or folders for your desk, a range of wall art to amp up those Zoom calls as well as edibles and scented candles to make sense of your day. Check out their SilaiWali rag dolls, which repurposes waste material, and doubles up as play objects and wonderful objects of art.
A pick-stitched, hand-quilted Ikat, Suzani or Palampore inspired cushion, rugs dreaming of Marrakesh, hints of the Japanese Boro technique and washed red and blue denim craft in bedspreads are just some of the many charms that defined the work of Delhi-based Sarita Handa. Add to this some earthy terracotta and olive tones, some vibrant embroidered wall art as well as luxurious towels combined with a floral matelasse cotton robes and it’s a luxe redux for the home and living from the Sarita Handa atelier, which has gone online to manage your hours of lockdown and WfH with a little bit of whimsy. Expect chat consults and pocket-friendly styles.
Simone Naturally Inspired
Simone Arora’s three-storey tall luxury decor store used the lockdown to go the e-commerce way and is online with quite a cache of bed linen and tableware at great prices along with lovely little artefacts like a hand-blown glass hurricane tealight holder, a super couture card case in black leather and glazed ceramic serving bowls in soft contours.
And even as the store re-opens by appointment only, virtual assistance through video calls remains key to their e-store. Shoppers can browse through curated short videos of new products and an exclusive Home Design Service—where trained stylists assist customers to visualise a complete look for the home—with soft furnishing, artefacts and home accessories from the Simone label. Those looking for a quick-fix WfH makeover will find the website a one-stop solution—you can build your home style with their range of well-priced rugs and decorative cushions; chic floor and table lamps finished in brass, driftwood and blown glass; ready-to-hang giclee print artworks, photographs and a bevelled mirror set in wood with an antique brass finish.
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