David Abraham and Rakesh Thakore;
David Abraham and Rakesh Thakore;

Magic carpets

Abraham & Thakore collaborate with Obeetee to create limited edition rugs inspired by India’s rich textile repertoire

Exquisite, elegant, ethereal. Each of acclaimed designer duo David Abraham and Rakesh Thakore’s creations has been a quiet, modern, sophisticated rendition of handcrafted panache, since they started redefining the contours of fashion design in the country. And now, when the celebrated team tried their hands at carpets, obviously, they turned out to be nothing short of magical.

It has been a theatre of contours for the creative hearts behind the coveted Abraham & Thakore label. From designing scarves and kimonos to shaping their signature style, a blend of traditional with modern, David and Rakesh have always revelled in India’s cultural matrix and delved deep to come up with rare pearls. Says David, “Our design sensibility has always been informed by traditional textile craft. We see our heritage of handmade textiles as an invaluable resource for Indian designers.”

So, when David and Rakesh were approached by leading carpet company, Obeetee, to collaborate in the company’s ‘Proud To Be Indian’ collection, they were equally enthused and began work on a stunning array of rugs that hit the showrooms last month. The collaboration is aimed at showcasing quintessential Indian designs to the global audience. “Modern yet traditional and complex, this has been a challenging and timely project,” says David, adding, “Though we have worked extensively with the development of handwoven textiles, for us this was a first.”

Charcoal and Bandhej
Charcoal and Bandhej

Of course, the duo has distilled their own palette in keeping with their inclusion philosophy. “The role of a carpet in an interior is very specific,” explains Rajesh.“It needs to work with all the other elements in an interior space, from furniture to the artwork. So we have softened the colours and reduced the contrast.”

Each Abraham & Thakore rug continues the exploration of developing a quiet and modern design voice while simultaneously drawing on the rich traditional vocabulary of Indian design and craft. The collection of 18 designs, therefore, circles three themes—calligraphy (inspired by old, handwritten letters); saris (inspired by Kanchipuram) and block prints (inspired by Sanganer); ikat (from the Deccan’s famed Telia Rumals) and bandhani (from Mandvi in Kutch). The palette ranges from earthy hues to powder blue to indigo, ethereal whites and creams as well as deep browns and slaty greys.
“These fine carpets are an expression of the skills of the ancient craft of carpet-making that is still rooted in India. All the layers, colours and textures breathe stories of skilled textile artisans and craftsmen. We have dipped extensively into the wealth of motifs and forms replete in traditional saris. We have also specifically referred to the patterns along the borders of the saris that form the iconic outlines of these textiles, and have used them as our source of design imagery,” says David.

David and Rakesh have made extensive use of ikat, as it carries a particular graphic quality. “The ikat technique creates a brush stroke effect which we have tried to capture,” shares David, and adds, “The calligraphy collection has been inspired by a chance discovery of old handwritten letters—a further celebration of the human hand, and an anomaly in our digital age of emails and text messages.”

It has been a distillation of 18 months of hard work, from inspiration, ideation, mood board to designing the look to finally transforming them into rugs. And the delicate craftsmanship is evident in the fine detailing. “Nothing can duplicate the luxury of a handmade product. After all, a creation of the human hand is always unique, no two pieces are identical, and true connoisseurs respect this,” says David.
This is the second phase of Obeetee’s ‘Proud To Be Indian’ campaign. The first was a collaboration with fashion designer Tarun Tahiliani.

As Rudra Chatterjee, chairman of Obeetee, explains, “We launched this campaign with the intention of coming out with collections that showcase India’s creative talent, and transpose her rich heritage of artistry and design into modern renditions. We partnered with Abraham & Thakore because of
their cutting edge mastery of design that stands rooted intricately to India’s ethos. Of course, one pleasant by-product of the ‘Proud To Be Indian’ series has been the opportunity to engage
weavers countrywide and preserve their craft.”

Obeetee is one of the largest handmade rug-makers in the country and one of the oldest hand-woven rug companies in the world. Founded as Oakley Bowden & Taylor in 1920, Obeetee has grown to 650 permanent employees and works with 15,000 independent artisans engaged in weaving and processing their rugs.

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The New Indian Express