Once a year we brave the Delhi Trade Fair – not so much to buy new stock since we already have some great suppliers, but more for inspiration.. Situated outside Delhi in the industrial area of Noida it makes Olympia feel like a corner shop. A vast shopping mall on 4 floors plus 3 enormous marquees full of great craftsmen from all over India.
Metal and ironworkers from Moradabad displaying all sorts of lamps, ironmongery, and lanterns; glass makers from Firozabad selling fabulous glassware; a whole marquee of furniture makers from Jodphur selling brilliant copies of vintage pieces as well as beautifully designed contemporary items. There are rug makers, fabrics of every hue and weight – gorgeous hand dyed linens, silks and cottons; paper makers, jewelry designers, fashion designers, basket weavers, ceramicists and purveyors of tents. The hard part is not to get too distracted – and suddenly find ourselves launching into a whole new range of Rajasthani tents – it very nearly happened!
We restrict ourselves – or to be more accurate – we can only manage one long day there, at the end of which we are exhausted and exhilarated by the sheer plethora of craftsmanship, ingenuity and beauty on offer. Its then down to the nitty gritty – as we sort through the business cards and brochures and decide on what we will actually pursue.
This year we found a wonderful company, Camelon Exports that makes paper from all sorts of natural products beside the usual cotton – lokta, hemp and banana. It took us some time to locate them amongst all the ubiquitous stalls displaying paper stars but we are very excited to be developing a new range of shades using some of these fabulous papers – watch out in the coming months for them to come to our shop.
We also found a great little company making hand-stitched Kashmiri crewel work cushions in gorgeous colours – we just loved the way they had taken this ancient art and were producing really contemporary designs. We didn’t quite believe they were all hand-stitched until we met Jameel’s mother at his shop the next day where she gave us a demonstration. It wasn’t on our list to do but we couldn’t resist.
And just as we were about to leave we came across a whole section of fabric makers from Assam. Really exquisite silks, ikat and shibori. We learnt all about Eri or ‘Peace silk’ where the moths are not destroyed in the cocoon but are allowed to emerge and the pierced cocoons are spun rather than reeled to produce the eri silk yarn. Assam is definitely a destination for our next visit to India.