A little over a decade ago, finance expert Ganesh Shankar and economist-turned-designer Sanju Rao, had the same idea — to make products that would best showcase Indian fabrics, and essentially function as mannequins for textiles from around India. So, they decided to make seating furniture, as they felt it would best display their unique vision, and Sihasn, a premium luxury furniture and upholstery brand, was born. In less than a year since they established, they managed to gather an impressive online base, and now are a brand that caters to online clients, and ties-up with niche retail stores around the country, offering one-of-a-kind upholstery and seating furniture.
Stories on saris
Their latest collection is inspired by Kanjivaram saris. “We encourage clients to get a feel of the product and experience it first-hand. We then customise according to their needs,” says Sanju. Elaborating on the collection, called Sitting on Stories, Ganesh adds, “Our Kanjivaram brocade is woven onto pure silk. The brocade pattern is of paisley motifs — one that has for centuries, been used as a henna design by Indian brides. That is our inspiration for the piece we have on display.”
Talking about the new collection Sanju adds, “We want people to share the saris they’re not wearing anymore or heirloom saris that they want to preserve, and showcase them in all their splendour. We have spent time researching and understanding how to do this with all kinds of saris, regardless of how old, delicate, or light they are. Our Kanjivaram-upholstered product will demonstrate precisely this — how saris can be displayed and celebrated instead of being shelved, donated to the poor, or made into handbags.”
India on your sofa
The two curate fabrics from all over the country — from the foothills of Nagaland to the salt floors of Kutch — but what really matters to them, they claim is the fabric’s long-standing traditions, culture and stories it brings with it. Case in point, their previous collection — a set of chairs made using the famous Naga shawls.
“All our collections tell stories about the regions they are from, the communities that weave, print, and embroider them, and what makes those fabrics works of art that require highly skilled craftsmanship. The Chizami Weaves Naga collection is all about tribal textiles. They have never ever been used as
upholstery until now. The same is true of the Ajrakh from Kutch,” says Ganesh.
All their fabric is sourced directly from weavers and weaving cooperatives in particular regions, and Sanju adds that the collaboration has been nothing short of a win-win situation. “The weavers have been only too happy to be able to service the bulk orders we’ve placed with them because furniture requires significantly more material than apparel. This is new and surprising source of income for them too,” she says. Next up, they are working on a collection, Kashmir Ki Kashida, to be launched this month, that will feature chairs, sofas and ottomans bearing aari embroidery work.