Direct from Market: India
GDA Staff -- Gifts & Dec, November 16, 2011
The India Expo Center & Mart, located just beyond New Delhi in Greater Noida, was the venue for the 32nd Indian
Finely woven baskets with dyed ikat patterns traditionally used in textiles surround their designer, Jesmina Zeliang of Cane Concept.
Acknowledging the government's support through its various vertically integrated as well as grass-roots initiatives, R.K. Verma, director, EPCH and IGHF, emphasized the Council's role in fostering Technology Upgradation Centers at various regional craft clusters. Further, the incorporation of international designers, educational seminars on world-wide trends and economic incentives for manufacturers and craftsmen, have transformed India's rural, cottage-craft-based handicrafts into a remarkably vibrant industry, and a leading contender in the world's gift, home and accessories markets.
Stainless steel bio-alcohol burners featuring fire-retardant “puffs” that burn for up to 4 hours from Ashoka Exports.
Claire Woodsum, vice president of merchandising at Foreside Home & Garden, a division of Transpac which sells seasonal and gift items from China, also buys from India, and is well-positioned to distinguish between the two countries. While Chinese manufacturers are competitive, driven by high-tech, high-volume production, she is attracted by India's strengths of "original design, the sheer range of interior decorative accessories, and the innovative, sophisticated finishes that Indian craftsmen and manufacturers offer."
The biggest categories on display were metal ware and glass, including wrought iron crafts and sheet metal goods. A dynamic source for functional kitchen and home products, India now produces a wide range of creative and trendy stainless steel products, combining them with wood, glass, acrylic and other metals. Thar Handicrafts' sheet metal whimsical garden stakes, hooks and fence post toppers in bunny, frog, rooster and other designs with a distinctly anthropomorphic feel were fancifully artistic with hand-painted details. Prayas' hand woven twisted-wire designs in antique and powder-coated finishes were truly creative and bespoke the company's two-years of research and development. Particularly
Powder-coated wire is twisted and hand-woven by Prayas to give these animal designsa touch of whimsy. Stool and moorha sport hand-tanned and grained tightly-stretched goat-hide.
As Thea Iglehart , senior product manager of Ohio-based direct marketer Grandin Road observed, "What's old is new," attesting to the resurgence of rustic, country themes evidenced in antiqued textiles, "old" furniture, distressed wood, uneven matte finishes, and burnished patinas. Noble Art & Craft House showed wood and metal articles in maritime, rustic and country themes teamed with accents of aluminum, iron and wood, some with a polished nickel finish. Aluminum crates with old-fashioned, riveted pull handles; butcher-block tables with sheet aluminum tops; iron shelving with wood-reinforced corners; a selection of animals with metal heads and carved wooden bodies; a lamp decorated with old Indian faces and old nails sticking up to simulate hair - all evoked considerable interest.
Shruti Impex's sheet metal products were rust-proofed with a unique heat treatment, followed by sandblast washing, then polished and painted. The company's designer, Marcus Wolff, came to India nine years ago to set up a sheet metal unit and has since gained a reputation with his uno chair and novel ideas like old car chassis refashioned into quirky commercial decor. McBoone Naturals, headquartered in The Netherlands, designs and manufactures its unique back-to-nature lamps in India, using mango wood which is then gray or white-washed and teamed with cotton and linen shades.
A selection of serving trays from Sanjeev Kahali.
Metal bicycles, tongas and rickshaws from Indian Village Handicrafts hearken back to yesteryear, while the cookbook stand in the foreground can also be used as a plate stand or fireplace accent.
The fluid and elegant figures in wood, aluminum and iron exhibited in Forms' permanent showroom at the Mart, has earned the company a reputation for artistic expression. Its inspiration originates in the distinctive lost wax casting of the Bastar tribes of Central India. Three dimensional figures are formed of wax, covered with mud and then baked; the heat melts the wax and the resulting cavity is filled with melted brass or other metal to create the figures. Ceramic and bone china products did not lag far behind, judging from the elegant table decor proffered by Object Home and Crafts Villa.
Despite some setbacks due to global recessionary market conditions, many fair participants were optimistic because the inherent appeal of Indian handicrafts continues to grow. Thus with India's distinct advantages of labor, raw materials, craftsmanship and design capabilities -- in concert with its continuing focus on infrastructure development, among other things - this augurs well for its gift and handicrafts industry.
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