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Exploring Contemporary Artisanal Living With Ikai Asai

  • 14 Feb '21
  • 12:27 pm by Tarjani Samani

Ikai Asai is a handcrafted home decor brand whose product offerings centre around the table, and vision is realised as a global community movement towards contemporary artisanal living. Officially launched in January 2020 at Maison et Objet, the brand has swiftly garnered critical global acclaim for bringing into limelight the diverse hidden craft techniques of India. In the midst of the increasing globalisation of design aesthetic, CEO Kanupriya Verma aspired to explore the traditional crafts belonging to different regions in India. For her,
infusing this myriad local craft aesthetic with a fresh contemporary global outlook is the central brand ideology.

The philosophy of collaboration is deeply ingrained in Ikai Asai’s recent collections. With these collections reflecting various moods- it re-enlivens the philosophical narrative behind various craft techniques. For the team, these artisanal narratives are a means to contribute towards a sustainable lifestyle. It takes inspiration from the aesthetic language of these lost crafts and blends it with contemporary design language. The result of these collaborations results in refined eccentric pieces which then appear resplendent and timeless. In the recent four standalone collaborations, the brand has collaborated with various architects, designers, artists and craftsmen from across the country. These collections are a conceptual ode towards the spirit of the various craft techniques it embodies.

The ceramic collection “Lila” is inspired by traditional folklore and earthy textures

For the Lila collection, Ikai Asai has collaborated with Rina Singh – the founder and Designer at Eka. In this paster hued ceramic collection, one can notice the subtle undertone of the Indian aesthetic. The designer who originally works with textile design has incorporated the knowledge of 300-year-old signature block printing techniques from the village clusters of Gujarat and Rajasthan. The collection thus embodies a floral narrative imprinted on a set of pastel handcrafted glass pieces. The raw uneven textures, subtle floral imprints, and the handcrafted shape of these pieces reminiscence memories from our vibrant past. Furthermore, other collaborations include a meditative collection named “Deva” which includes pieces inspired from, Longpi pottery craft technique from Northeast India juxtaposed with the ancient craft of Kansa. The Deva collection was done in collaboration with architect Dharmesh Jadeja and craftsmen Matthew Sasa.

The “Deva” collection consists of deep earthy texture which emotes a spiritual mood

Supporting craftsmanship is the starting point for these collaborations between designers, the brand and the artisans. The “Kama” collection envisioned by designer Ayush Kasliwal reflects the colours, celebrations and a yearning for sensorial experiences. The deep sensual colours of the dining collection are done in collaboration with Jaipur’s finest jewellery stone carving clusters. The Junoon collection in collaboration between architect Ashiesh Shah and craftsman Noor Salma celebrates the traditional Chanapatna toy-making technique from Karnataka. The Junoon collection balances the duality of vibrant red colour paired with solid white enlivens the relentless spirit of creativity sans restrictions.

Sensual spirit of the “Kama” collection
The “Junoon” collection embodying an unrestrained fiery spirit

In a bid to reach out to the wider market, the brand has fostered online retail partnerships with Amazon, Cult Modern, House of Things, Le Mill, Ogaan, Okhai, Tata Cliq Luxury, amongst many more. Partnerships with these leading retailers in the Indian and international marketspace has further ensured that Ikai Asai garners the attention of the larger global audience. Ikai Asai has also exhibited in leading design exhibition fairs such as Maison et Objet and the London Craft Week. The brand’s relentless vision of fostering a rich collaboration between the industry and the artisans has garnered critical acclaim globally.

In a world now moving towards slow and sustainable choices, Ikai Asai will forefront this market trend. In the near post-pandemic times where consumers are becoming more conscious of their lifestyle, the brand’s collection subtly positions themselves towards these aspirations. Ikai Asai continues to inspire the larger audience of the rich possibilities of nostalgia of old crafts carried forward to the near future aesthetics.

The fine nuances of traditional floral print patterns set against raw handcrafted ceramic pieces of the “Kama” collection
The hedonistic nature of the “Deva” collection


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