Monday, 17 March 2014
Founded in 2012 by Manasa Prithvi whilst undertaking her Masters degree in London, Ira is a developing design agency producing attractive contemporary pieces that merge traditional Indian hand-crafting techniques with contemporary presentation. With each design a reflection of new and old practices Ira is helping to create a modern identity for Indian craft products in today's design market.
Returning to India after graduating Prithvi has expanded on her early designs by establishing working relationships with craftsmen across the country. Whilst intensive, Prithvi enjoys the diversity that comes from continually working with individuals in different regions. "Crafts in India mainly arise out of various socio-economic and cultural backgrounds," she says, "traveling in research of different crafts and in search of craftsmen is a beautiful way to connect with the people and culture of this country."
Prithvi's love of the traditional aesthetics of her roots in India is the driving force behind her work, but she is eager to establish a new kind of appreciation for the products created here that focuses on the techniques behind each piece rather then just the products origins. "Indian crafts have plenty of heritage and traditions, but we've already broken away from traditional branding. I think the true value to each product comes from the labour intensive process where the craftsman pours his heart into making it. We want our customers to understand this aspect of each product." With the intricate work of these artisans evident on pieces such as hand-beaten copper tables and the handmade beeswax moulds on Ira's recent Dokra lights, the skill required to create them is evident at first sight.
Ira's inspiration from tradition continues in their approach to the availability of their products, focusing on producing specific ranges in limited quantities. Speaking on this Prithvi is keen to point out how this approach has helped Ira establish a strong identity amongst peers. "Traditionally artisans either made exclusive pieces for their patrons or would create unique products where two pieces were never alike," she says. "Traditional craft is a very hand driven process, mass manufacturing not only reduces the quality of the products but also makes us no different from any other design brand."
Since returning to India Prithvi has successfully completed a number of ranges under the Ira name and is continually developing new projects with her growing network of craftsmen. With her passion for utilizing the skills inherent to her country, coupled with a modern perspective on how her products are marketed, Prithvi continues intrepidly on her company's development with few obstacles in her path.
Tuesday, 14 January 2014
With a wealth of new companies making their debut at this years IMM Cologne, locating collections of note can prove a time consuming task amongst the vast sea of stands. Fortunately, ahead of the show, attention has turned to the elegant Leather Collection from the London based designers at H Furniture. Composed of four simple pieces (chair, stool, high stool, and triple stool) the collection's construction draws reference from Danish mid-century furniture in both material and form, maintaining a pleasing silhouette whilst offering comfort in use also. Most notable in the collection is the Leather Chair, an appropriately adaptable article that would not only make a suitable dining chair but also a comfortable piece of lounge seating.
Also standing out amongst the offerings in the collection is the Leather Triple Stool, an item that seems to fit perfectly in to imagined office lobbies and intellectual campus hallways.
With the Leather Collection frames available in a variety of wood finishes and with a choice of standard or premium leathers to upholster their furnishings, the collection marks a notable starting point in this young company's history.
Tuesday, 7 January 2014
Produced at Iceland's only distillery, located in the small coastal town of Borgarnes, Reyka Vodka is an essential component to any stockpile of fine alcoholic libations. First sampled during a trip in 2010, this vodka has become a preference when chosing to philosophically sip over an evening measure, served simply with a single cube of ice. Undergoing filtration through ancient lava rock, a resource abundantly available across the Icelandic landscape, the vodka displays a smooth, unique flavour with a pleasantly clean, lingering finish. Refreshingly, suggestions for its use in cocktails are kept minimal, allowing this refined distillation the opportunity to be savoured with only the subtlest of alterations.
Friday, 3 January 2014
After much deliberation an investment has finally been made in Uniform Wares. The British watch manufacturer has always offered a concise selection of covetable timepieces since it's launch in 2009, but it was the bold yet understated design of their 251 series that finally parted me from my hard-earned funds. The series heavily references the design of classic mid-century timepieces, typically characterised by their large open dials; the Smiths Astral is a great example of this style. Minimal though it may be at first glance, closer inspection reveals the 251 dial to have subtle depth, achieved through the use of a chamfered chapter ring that borders appliquéd hour markers, which add additional texture to the design. Whilst the watch is assembled in England the movement used within is Swiss in origin, tested carefully at each stage of assembly to ensure not only reliable timekeeping, but also that the final watch is as immaculate inside as it is out. The 251 series is available in three finishes, though the satin gold is particularly attractive, with a rich depth of colour achieved by bombarding the case with accelerated metal ions inside a vacuum. This process conjures images of early craftsmen experimenting with physics, perfectly capturing the essence of Britain's industrial heritage that is continually referenced throughout the Uniform Wares range. Welcome investments suited to decades of use.
Wednesday, 1 January 2014
Start as you mean to go on. 2014 began amid the smoke of a Cohiba Maduro 5, an exceptional cigar from one of the most highly regarded manufacturers in Cuba. With leaves fermented to create a strong sweet smoke it made the perfect accompaniment to a night soundtracked by fireworks in the street. Formerly reserved solely for consumption by diplomats, Cohiba only began producing cigars for the public in 1982 and has since gone on to become a favourite amongst many connoisseurs. For anyone looking to explore other cigars bearing the Cohiba name, a full selection can be sampled in the tasting lounge adjacent to Casa in Soho, where this gesture to a successful year ahead was purchased.
Friday, 8 February 2013
After spending a little over 3 years perched at the end of Redchurch Street, philosophical skincare experts Aesop have relocated their east London outlet to the centre of the thoroughfare. Housing a full compliment of applications the new space retains the humble atmosphere of their previous location on the street, complete with the original wooden point of sale installation built by furniture designer Gareth Neal, who operates from his studio in the nearby area. With new neighbours including a branch of gentleman's barbering destination Murdock and specialty coffee roasters Allpress, the new location sits perfectly placed for a visit from connoisseurs of quality.
Sunday, 20 January 2013
A good nights sleep relies on a few important factors: temperature: lighting: volume. Your bedroom should ideally be cool, somewhere in the range of 16-18C. Rely on your bedding to keep you warm, not your central heating. The room needs to be dark and it needs to be quiet, so consider an eye mask and earplugs if street light and traffic noise are unavoidable. Appropriate sleepwear should also be considered, and a pair of Sunspel Boxer Shorts make the ideal partner at bedtime. Constructed from 100% Egyptian Cotton these classic shorts come with an elasticated waistband and are cut with loose proportions, ensuring absolute comfort throughout the night. Available in a number of seasonal colours and prints, there's a perfect pair for every bedroom.