Archive for Sustainability

There once was India

Several millennia ago there was a land upon which a great civilisation rose.  The people that built this civilisation developed great skills in all fields of human endeavour and their fame for their craftsmanship spread far and wide across distant lands and high seas.  Tradesmen came from far and wide to seek these treasures and the land of India came to be equated with the highest ascends of human creativity…. then came the British, a nation of shopkeepers led by a queen that had trampled the last vestige of their cultural inheritance.  This led to a catastrophic collapse of our nation’s craftsmanship inheritance.

Today, with hindsight, we are able to better understand our loss.  As a result we are seeing a revival in preservation of this lost culture.  Museums have sprung up, educational programs have been set up in an attempt not to forget.  In small pockets of rural areas, preservation of these long lost skills have been sustained by passing them from one generation to the next.  Efforts have been made to encourage such pockets of knowledge by facilitating market access to these craftsmen.  However, a true revival of our age old crafts is only possible by nurturing the demand for these creations.  Sustainable demand can only be achieved if we are able to rediscover as a nation the utility and necessity of these products.  Crafted creations that end up as shelve decorations or piece of art will meet a slow death.  Rediscovering and encouraging their usage in our everyday life is the best way to ensure a golden future for the hands that have created them.

This is AKFD ‘s mission.  A design studio led by Ayush Kasliwal on a mission to rediscover, re-empower and reintegrate our lost craft-knowledge into our modern society.  In his own words…

I believe that design is in the relationship between an object and the people who interact with it. This is a very individual experience and the result is value.  For me, it is giving this `value’ to our customer, not only for what the product is, but for what it stands for- simplicity, honesty, and  … a sense of play.  Another aspect which is very important and dear to us is how things are made, who makes them, and do they do this out of choice, or circumstance.  India as a country has a long tradition of making, and it is upon us, the young design people to take this forward into the centuries to come.

Rohida wood jar

Collector’s delight. Rohida is a rare, dense grained wood.The Rohida tree is self propagating and cannot be planted. The wood is inherently hygienic and has been used by the Jain Monks over centuries as vessels for food.The section of this jar is amongst the thinnest in the world and has been impeccably finely crafted.This is a classic Lota shape in wood.

Iron Jewellery Hanger

The Gadia Lohar community of nomadic ironsmiths travel Rajasthan repairing and creating farm equipment, kitchen utensils. Here they are improvising on their horseshoe making skills to create iron trees for hanging jewellery and other ornaments. Available in black, silver plated, gold plated finishes

Goonda wood bowls

Made from the Goonda tree, these bowls are lacquered using food-safe lacquers. They stack into one another.

Rohida wood lacquered coasters

The Rohida range is made from the wood of the Rohida tree (Tecomella Undulata) which is native and unique to Rajasthan. The wood, besides being a strong and stable hardwood is beneficial for health. It is a rare, dense grained wood. The craftsmen make extremely thin walled vessels with considerable accuracy and consistency, a skill , which few, if anywhere in the world possess. The section of these objects is amongst the thinnest in the world. This craft is dying a slow death as the wood is increasingly rare and at the same time there is declining patronage amongst the Jain community, who’s monks carry vessels made in this wood as alms bowls. Our effort at AKFD is to provide alternative marketing channels for the traditional products and at the same time develop more products that utilize the traditional skills.


Jia Brass candle holders

The ‘Jia’ Brass Band is Jaipur’s most popular wedding band. Candlesticks inspired by the band’s cymbals celebrate the exuberant activity of bringing wedding families together with music. Made from highly polished spun brass, a family of these elegant candlesticks will make a splash at any function!

Sparsh – The care your skin deserves…..

Ayurveda is the treasure trove that India and Indian traditions have given to humanity. Literally translated as “the science of life”, it seeks to achieve harmony of life through positive health, natural beauty.

Ayurveda believes that health is maintained by the balance of three fine energies, known as Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These energies account for all forms of matter (Kapha), the force and direction they move (Vata), and the transformations they go through (Pitta).

All life forms present in the Universe possess these qualities. Ayurveda aims at bringing together in a harmonious manner to promote physical, emotional and spiritual growth. In Ayurveda, the beauty of the inner and outer self are given due importance.

The more we care for ourselves, the more our beauty and radiance gets enhanced – regardless of our shape and contours.

Janaki’s Sparsh provides you the care that your skin deserves; not the chemical concoction but pure natural one that have been developed by the tradition that embodies Janaki.

Cotton… Pride, Panacea, Plague!

This is a story that has been told many a times, but never actually been heard.

This is a story that has been written and rewritten throughout history.

This is a story that has contributed greatly to the legacy of this country.

Yet, this is the story that has been denied the attention it deserves!

India has been cultivating cotton since the Saraswathi Valley civilisation 5000 years ago. Cotton is deep rooted in our history. It has been our path to pride and at many times our redemption.

We owe much of what we know about cotton’s prehistoric existance to a collection of ancient Indian texts called the vedas. The earliest of these sacred texts is the Rig Veda (descriptions and praises of the Gods) that was composed between 1700-1100 BC.

The Rig Veda tells the story of Prajapati, the first god who created the world. Prajapati, “Lord of Creatures” was adorned in what was called “Kaarpaasa” which was described as a white, soft fabric spun out of a ball like seed.  Prajapati was sacrificed to himself by the younger Gods Indra (Lord of Heaven/Space), Agni (Lord of Fire), and Varuna (Lord of Rain/Water) and from parts of his body the whole universe was born. Prajapati’s remaining parts turned into different groups of people, which is why the Indian people think of themselves as belonging to one of four castes or groups. Throughout the vedas, be it tales of Gods, human or animals, cotton has a vital role within the story. In India today, as it was for thousands of years, no matter what caste you occupy or what job you hold you will be wearing a piece of cotton, either elaborately adorned or plain and simple.

Herodotus, the 5th century BC Greek historian records, “in India there were trees growing wild, which produce a kind of wool better than sheep’s wool in beauty and quality, which the Indians use for making their clothes.” The earliest pictorial depiction can be referenced from the  2nd century BC Ajanta Cave carvings that show genius cotton growers in India had invented an early roller machine to get the seeds out of cotton.

Cotton, has gone from being the fabric of the Gods to the common man’s elixir. It was the riches of the rich as well as the poor. From the times of the Imperialist regime to the times of Ghandian revolution, cotton in India evolved and adapted itself to play the part it was given.

With Mahatma Gandhi, cotton gained its most celebrated moment. It became the symbol of India’s freedom struggle. It was the backbone of the Swadeshi movement (economic empowerment through self-sufficiency), paved the path to the Indian man regaining his lost dignity.  Gandhi taught Indians to love, trust and respect cotton. We have however come a long way since then. We have moved far from our Gandhian cotton ways to a deep dark hole of despair.

A deep dark hole called “Genetic Modification”.

India today is the largest producer of GM cotton in the world. Cotton occupies 5% of our country’s farmland but accounts for nearly 54% of the total pesticides consumed. The result of us forgetting what is indigenous has pushed us into desperate indignation. Over 200,000 farmers loosing their lives over the loss of their livelihood, within a decade, tells us enough!

Janaki’s Vastra is a small step towards redeeming this community. Our clothes take you back to the roots of cotton…  purity,  goodness and pride.

Organically produced… Sustainable clothes …  as comfortable as they can get!