With its status as a world-leader in both cutting-edge technology and traditional crafts, India is a hub of creative possibilities. Our Home buyers sought to channel some of the country’s oldest aesthetic traditions – choosing age-old crafts harnessed by contemporary Indian artisans.
“It’s all about the juxtaposition of the old and the new – like a shiny New Delhi tower block that’s right next to a crumbling Mughal temple.”
From the moment we opened our doors in 1875, Liberty has been indebted to the craftspeople of Asia. Our floors have long been stocked with the most beautiful Eastern designs that founder Sir Arthur Lasenby Liberty could unearth – Japanese cloisonné vases, fine Indian silks, Chinese carved black-wood furniture and Himalayan cashmere. These goods delighted the Liberty London patrons of the day, who were captivated by the rich colouration and delicate details.
Our homeware buyers aimed to recreate this early Liberty shopping experience, sourcing a diverse range of handcrafted, vintage and traditionally-inspired Indian pieces from a trip to Delhi and Jaipur. Buyer Bryony Sheridan explains, “It was great to meet so many skilled, passionate people who take a lot of pride in what they do. We really like makers and handmade projects – many of these skills have been passed down from generation to generation.”
“In the art of traditional blue pottery in the villages around Jaipur, local artisans make pottery with their bare hands.”
The pieces in the collection cover a wide breadth of creative ground, reflecting the historic status and diverse traditions of India’s arts and crafts industries. Many of the selections are produced by skilled craftspeople in particular regions – for example, Blue Pottery is a Rajasthani tradition carried out in the rural villages around Jaipur, where local artisans craft these distinctive ceramics in their homes during evenings and the rainy season.
“The primary crafts used by us are Kantha and Zardozi. These are both handmade but completely different – for Zardozi embroidery, artisans sit around a wooden frame and use metal wires to accomplish a specific design.”
The collection features a wide range of textiles – a tribute to India’s venerable fabric-working traditions, which date back several thousand years. For centuries Indian weaving and dyeing methods were far technologically superior to those in Europe, making them prized by foreign merchants who hoped to replicate them.
Liberty helped to spark a trend for Indian textiles during the Victorian era, stocking a wide range of elegant fabrics including ultra-fine Rampoor Chuddah wool, hand-embroidered phulkaris and ornate howdah cloths. The Made in India campaign reflects this, with a selection that includes vintage phulkaris from Punjab alongside sari borders from Varanasi and contemporary pashminas and Jamawar shawls from Kashmir.
“The universal inclination to enjoy a bit of Rajasthan in one’s personal living space led to our creation of an imaginative and extensive range of nature-inspired prints, embroideries and hand embellishments.”
Indian designs were prized by a British audience for their vivid tones – this was due to their perceived exoticism, as well as to India’s more advanced colouration techniques. The buyers wanted to replicate this sense of wonder, with Bryony explaining, “the textiles are so vibrant – for us, it’s really all about colour. This ties in really well with current seasonal trends.”
Visitors in store will discover a magnificent range of antique Indian arts and furniture. Online, we have just one figurehead vintage piece for sale – an intricately hand-painted ceiling originally from a temple in Odisha, eastern India. It was created using the ancient Pattachitra technique, depicting multiple deities from Hindu mythology.
The Made in India collection is designed to be mixed and matched with other pieces in your home, framing traditional artisanal and vintage products in a contemporary setting to highlight the luminosity of their handmade details. Each tiny stitch of thread, flick of paint and piece of immaculately inlaid tile is a part of the story of Liberty London – paying homage to the skilled designers and artists without whom we wouldn’t have been possible.
“Ours is an ancestral business, started to promote the cultural handicrafts of the State of Kashmir.”