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Redesigning the India story: Handmade as India's strength at Frankfurt trade fair

IANS  |  Frankfurt 

In the heart of Germany's business capital, four Indians are showcasing a facet of the country's soft power: handicrafts. With the partner country of one of the world's biggest consumer goods fairs, its pavilions are serving as a window to its diverse cultures and deft craftspeople.

At Ambiente 2019, that brings together global manufacturers, traders and buyers of innovatively designed products, designers Sunil Sethi, Sandeep Sangaru, and - who presented India's campaign Hand Make in here - have created an experience at the event, where over 515 Indian exhibitors are showcasing products in the Living, Giving and Dining categories.

The exhibition grounds saw, for the first time, four Indian award-winning craftspeople giving demos of the crafts they championed over decades.

Tapas Kumar Jana, a recipient of 2016 National Award, demonstrated the centuries-old Masland mat weaving. He painstakingly wove away on these grass-based 'chatais', as global visitors stopped in awe and often video-recorded the elaborate procedure.

"The grass we use grows in We make thin strips of it with our teeth, and then weave these manually using our instruments. One simple mat can take several weeks, with the time going up as designs get complicated," Jana told IANS, adding that these 'chatais' were gifted during weddings as a norm.

Displaying woven grass mats as soft and malleable as pashmina fabric, Jana said the is changing as per the modern consumer demands.

Not just gifted mats, the finished Masland sheets can now be used to create folders, bags, wall hangings and -- customised versions of a traditional to suit modern needs.

The contemporary use of Jana's mats draws from India's larger showcase at the fair. Handmade, which is touted as India's strength, is often thought of as products incapable of competing with the industrially produced modern consumer goods.

Is modernising Indian handicrafts the way forward? says yes.

Speaking to IANS on the intricacies of Indian design, he emphasised that the needs to wake up to its strengths, and platforms like Ambiente provide a visibility like no other.

"Indian design doesn't lack the talent, but the exposure. If we are competing in a global market, designers from the country must come and see what the has to offer. It is an eye-opener," Sethi said, during a walkthrough of the pavilion designed by him.

Displaying modular furniture done in the traditional Ikat style, a sofa with wood blocks as the upholstery, and a beautiful and minimalist peacock glass installation, Sethi said the homes, globally, are changing and modern versions of handicrafts become a way of expanding markets and also retaining the future generations in the

Inder Singh Kudrat, a veteran Rajasthani craftsperson, who was awarded the top artisan honour of Shilp Guru, stressed the importance of global visibility to "keep children's dwindling interests in crafts alive".

Also exhibiting are Amrit Lal Sirohiya, a gemstone carver from and Naseer Ahmad Mir, a Kani shawl maker from

All the four handicrafts are Geographical Indication (GI) listed, which identifies each product with its place of origin to promote regional crafts.

Listing sustainability, high-end material, and handmade, as future design trends, as compared to luxury and branding, the Fair's iterated her belief in Indian products, in a conversation with IANS.

The Fair, which concludes Tuesday, has gone a long way in cementing India's strengths as a mass manufacturer of sustainable, locally-grounded handicrafts, which suit modern living traditions and are here to stay.

(Siddhi Jain is in on the invitation of organisers of Ambiente 2019. She can be contacted at siddhi.j@ians.in)

--IANS

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(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, February 12 2019. 19:38 IST
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