The brands are giving a new lease of life to traditional artistry and practices by translating them into spectacular craft-intensive furniturewith universal aesthetics

By Pallavi Mehra

March, 2021

The Soda coffee tables are made from hand-blown Murano glass
Photo Credit-Alessandro di Bon and Laura Pozzi Studio

A number of Indian and international design companies are striving to preserve age-old crafts that have seamlessly transcended generations of artisan families. The brands are giving a new lease of life to traditional artistry and practices by translating them into spectacular craft-intensive furniture with universal aesthetics. These labels are marrying traditional crafts with contemporary techniques and processes, in an effort to revive and reinvent craft-based production and help them stay relevant in today’s world. Here’s a look at five such furniture pieces or collections that are a modern take on traditional crafts or customs.

The Soda coffee tables are crafted by Murano glassmaking maestros

Photo Credit-Alessandro di Bon and Laura Pozzi Studio


Greek designer Yiannis Ghikas has partnered with Italian furniture brand Mini forms to conceptualise a striking collection of coffee tables that are made from Murano glass. Titled the ‘Soda coffee table’ series, the range comprises awe-inspiring coffee tables in two sizes and two hues—rich amber and an exquisite petrol green. Each ‘Soda coffee table’ is made upside down by three master glass makers from Murano, Italy. Every piece weighs around 20 kgs and showcases a one-of-a-kind, primitive surface and aesthetic. Due to the randomness of the glass blowing technique, Yiannis Ghikas and Mini forms could not standardize the texture of the glass. This adds an additional unique quality to each piece.

Each ‘Soda coffee table’has a one-of-a-kind primitive surface and aesthetic

Photo Credit-Alessandro di Bon and Laura Pozzi Studio

“The style of Soda reflects our brand—it is iconic, simple, colourful, maybe even funky. We have a light-hearted approach to design and Soda reflects this attitude. Also, we love to mix traditional elements of the past, like working with Murano glass, and insert them in a contemporary environment. An aphorism that we remind ourselves sometimes is: ‘It's ok to look at the past, just don't stare,'” adds a spokesperson from Mini forms.

The Chhau Donna Cabinet with the Strings Cabinet Gold and the Coronum Armchair


Scarlet Splendours’ iDanaztori collection in collaboration with Elena Salmistraro is an ode to ethnic dance. Last year, the Chhau Donna Cabinet from this collection was unveiled. This cabinet is a celebration of dance, specifically the classical dances of India. It is inspired by the traditional Chhau dance from Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha. This classical Indian dance form has martial, tribal and folk traditions and is performed during festivals and celebrations. The Chhau Donna Cabinet pays homage to the magnificence of the dancers’ awe-inspiring costumes.

Chhau Donna Cabinet

While the luxurious design of the Chhau Donna Cabinet is inspired by classical dance, it is in no way traditional. In fact, its one-of-a-kind form and vibrant colour palette are modern and avant-garde. The thought-provoking Chhau Donna Cabinet showcases Elena Salmistraro’s love for dance and is a tangible manifestation of this emotion. With this cabinet, Elena has captured the dancers’ flawless movements through geometric details, an alluring gamut of colours and materials such as plywood and nautical resin. The Chhau Donna Cabinet, with its arresting form, riot of colours and intriguing inspiration, will take people by surprise, and engulf them in a warm embrace. It is a fantastical, handcrafted piece of furniture, which is a poetic union of traditional customs, luxury and utility.

The Exquisite Corpse collection exhibits a modern take on the age-old art of straw marquetry

Photo Credit-Victoria Zschommler


French marquetry artisan Arthur Seigneurand Australian industrial designer Adam Goodrum have created pieces of furniture that are a contemporary take on the 17th-century art of straw marquetry. Known as The Exquisite Corpse collection, this vibrant range comprises a tallboy, a console and a credenza. This series features furniture that showcases geometric motifs, which have been handcrafted with straw. The designers worked with artisan cabinet makers to craft these pieces using the traditional straw marquetry technique. Thin and flat strips of rye straw from Burgundy, France were utilised to create the eye-catching geometric patterns on the furniture. The straws were hand-dyed into custom colours before being laid on the pieces in contrasting grain directions to create an illusion of three-dimensionality.

The Exquisite Corpse collection includes a tallboy, a console and a credenza

Photo Credit-Victoria Zschommler

“The pieces allow synergy of pattern and form; every available surface is dressed which in turn allows them to be interesting from any angle and so resist being confined against a wall or in a corner. In addition, the flexibility of the material allows us to apply the straw to any shape. Also, contrary to common perception, straw isn't fragile. In fact once applied, rye straw is inherently durable, creating a precious impermeable finish,” add Goodrum and Seigneur.

The Zabuton Sofa is a modern interpretation of traditional Japanese seating

Photo Credit-Umé Studio


American design studio Umé Studio has crafted a modular sofa with traditional Japanese Zabuton cushions that are conventionally placed over woven-straw mats known as tatami. The Zabuton Sofa comprises alow, maple wood base with grooves, triangular-shaped partitions, Zabuton cushions and bolsters. The wooden dividers can be inserted in the grooves in a number of configurations, resulting in different setups like a bed-like platform or a sofa with two seats. Moreover, a wooden divider can also be placed in the middle of the base. This central partition is available in two variations—a full-height backrest or a low table with a flat top that can be used as a desk or a coffee table.

The Zabuton Sofa can be configured in a variety of arrangements

Photo Credit-Umé Studio

Umé Studio reached out to Japanese furniture company Takaokaya to makethe cotton-filled Zabuton cushions for the sofa. The wooden frame of the sofa, which wascoated in water-based, clear polyurethane, was built in California. “Our Zabuton Sofa is a take on re-introducing traditional Japanese living into a modern piece of furniture. With the raised floors being popularised in the 17th century, Japanese society as a whole adopted tatami living as the driving design principle of housing design. Zabuton cushions were used to bring comfort to the seating of the nobility,” states the studi

Vanilla Noir’s The General Study Table and the Big Parade Tall mirror


The General Study Table from the Vanilla Noir collection by Scarlet Splendour and MatteoCibic is an arresting piece of furniture that has an extendable writing top, and small details, which are evocative of a traditional desk. This desk combines Indian workmanship and a Western aesthetic in such a way that it appears timeless. The General Study Table features a unique resin that replicates ivory inlay and it exhibits a contemporary twist to the play fully geometric designs of traditional bone marquetry. Scarlet Splendour’s artisans have used locally sourced materials and pigments to meticulously craft The General Study Table.

The General Study Table combines Indian workmanship and a Western aesthetic

With The General Study Table, Scarlet Splendour celebrates Indian culture by elevating indigenous art and taking it to the world. For this desk, Matteo Cibic has taken age-old Indian crafts and seamlessly blended them with unexpected Italian design. Moreover, The General Study Table was selected as one of the best-designed products of the century by famous furniture design magazine Metropolis. This desk is an epitome of contrasts—it is bold yet elegant, it is opulent, while still being highly functional.