Dusshera and Durga Puja both celebrate the triumph of good over evil. They reinstate hope and faith in us and remind us to vanquish our own demons. This festive season, put your virtuous foot forward by being a conscious consumer. Choose labels that use sustainable and ethical practices, support the development of indigenous communities, preserve fast-fading heritage crafts and keep an eye on the environment. Your participation in this golden chain will help build an ecosystem that values morals as much as great design and quality.
The renowned designer, whose studios are based out of New York and New Delhi, has been integrally involved in the revival of ancient Indian metal crafts, as is demonstrated beautifully through his products. He works with highly skilled, generational metal artisans across the country and creates contemporary designs with a heritage soul. Aram has also introduced a special line, in association with the Child Mind Institute, the proceeds of which are dedicated by the non-profit organisation towards improving mental healthcare for children.
Child Mind Institute Picture Frame (Rs 6300/-) and Snow Globe (Rs 7020/-), from Michael Aram.
The young and talented Nimish Shah has been making waves in the fashion circuit for some time now. His home line, an extension of his clothing range, carries forward his philosophy of practicing sustainability in everyday living through simple methods. Shah creates his range of beautiful and comfy quilts using end-of-the-line fabrics from his garment division; the textiles are natural and organic. The quilts are hand-made by an organisation in Gujarat that employs local women and equips them with skills that enable them to make a living for themselves. This is minimalist design with a maximal heart.
Run by a team of brothers, Andraab is a label dedicated to the textiles of Jammu and Kashmir. Their passion is to keep the luxurious pashmina and other heritage crafts of the region – some of which are 600 years old – alive and thriving. All cashmere (pashmina) is indigenously sourced from within the state. The cleaning, combing and finishing of fibres are completely done by hand. The shawls are woven by master craftsmen of the region; the authenticity of the patterns and the quality of the designs speak for themselves. The ethical business model follows a direct sourcing process, which guarantees fair prices to the craftspeople.
Embroidered Throw (Rs 16,400/-) and Shoe Stitch Shawl (Rs 44,300/-), from Andraab
The renowned maker of high quality rugs, carpets and floor coverings is a founding member of Care and Fair, a non-profit organisation that promotes the education and well being of the weavers and craftsmen of Bhadohi, the ‘carpet city’ of India. Since its inception, the company has maintained a transparent manufacturing process and a zero-tolerance policy towards child labour. Each carpet or rug is hand-knotted/ tufted from locally sourced natural fibres and dyes, and there is a strong focus on sustainability through the usage of recycled materials. Custom orders are also taken for select designs.
Vintage Kilim (Rs 12,000/-) and Hand Knotted Ikat Rug (Rs 30,000/-), from Imperial Knots
The Calcutta Restoration Co.
The company is dedicated to finding unique and authentic pieces of vintage and antique furniture, particularly from the colonial eras. Each piece is lovingly restored, retaining the minor ageing and imperfections that reflect its journey over the decades, sometimes even centuries. The designs are refurbished keeping in mind their usability in contemporary lifestyles. They are sometimes revamped slightly to appeal to a more ‘current’ taste, without taking away their historic accuracy. Restoring old furniture also means recycling of wood, so additional points from the environmental angle.
Devrai Art Village
The non-government organisation, based in Panchgani, Maharshtra, works towards sustaining tribal art forms, the most prominent being Dhokra or indigenous metal casting through the lost wax process, dating back to 2600 BC. The space has become a hub for tribal craftspeople and contemporary designers; their intermingling ensures the organic evolution of the craft, rather than simply being preserved in a ‘frozen’ manner. The village also trains the youth through apprenticeship programmes, ensuring that the skills are passed on to the future generations.
Nandi Bull (Rs 23, 550/-) and The Offering (Rs 25,200/-), from Devrai Art Village