Located in Jaipur, Rajasthan – Jaipur Rugs is fostering the economic independence of the rural women folk whilst showcasing Indian creativity across the globe. In a candid chat with Team iDecorama, CMD Nand Kishore Chaudhary & Design Director Kavita Chaudhary share interesting anecdotes about the exciting journey.
What led to the inception of Jaipur Rugs?
The inception story of Jaipur Rugs is quite interesting. Nand Kishore (N.K.) Chaudhary, the founder and CMD of the company, grew up in a small town in Rajasthan, a state in northwestern India. After graduating from the University of Rajasthan, Chaudhary began his career in his family’s shoe shop. However, he wanted to do something on his own. He heard that high quality rug weaving was in demand and hence he bought two looms and installed them in his home, and fell in love with the weaving business. He quickly learned the technical aspects of weaving from local weavers and expanded his business, adding six more looms in his house, and then more looms in six nearby villages. He gave up a bank job and borrowed Rs. 5000 from his father to start his carpet business. This was the time when India was under great influence of caste system and intermixing with backward castes was not socially accepted. NKC rejected this and in over 3 years, NKC’s production expanded to 10 looms with a larger pool of artisans and then there was no looking back.
In the age of mass production, did you feel there was an element of risk involved when the firm was incepted, what motivated you to stay strong and focused?
Jaipur Rugs started working on a business model which was dedicated to serving the society and at the same time, it was required for it to be a capitalistic institution. The company worked on a vision to bridge the gaps between the two worlds, viz. the grassroots and the global markets. This vision motivated us to stay strong and focused. Over the years, working on this model helped Jaipur Rugs in becoming a successfully scaled global social enterprise which connects the richest of richest with the poorest of poorest through its luxurious quality carpets.
When it comes to the finer aspects of design, how is it addressed? Are you personally involved in the designing process given the fact that you have a dedicated task force of weavers, who hand craft the end product?
Our design philosophy brings in newer trends where original designs are created from the rural weaver communities. Many of our aesthetic and appealing designs emerge through the process of rug weaving as well as through the interaction between the weavers. Normally designs emerge in design studios on a computer, but we allow art to be born on an unassuming loom. The craftsmanship of our weavers has created a unique language in the world of design which has gone on to win the world’s top global awards. These rugs have also created a trend as they are handcrafted using reclaimed yarn. Jaipur Rugs is the story of thousands of empowered weavers.
Integrating current designs with the sustenance of our communities, Jaipur Rugs brings weaver’s art directly to homes and delivers not just a carpet but the blessings of a family. Offering a curated line-up of contemporary to transitional and eclectic carpets handmade in rural India, Jaipur Rugs works with close to 40,000 artisans in 600 villages in India, providing families with sustainable livelihood at their door steps. Each of our rug passes through 180 hands, perfecting the timeless art of handmade rugs. We continue to work with over 2500 women yarn spinners from Bikaner to spin yarn on a rudimentary ‘charkha’, consciously choosing not to replace hundreds of hand-spinning jobs with machines.
What kinds of skillsets are imparted to the karigars who design the end product? Does everyone in a work group start from ground zero or is it a mix of trained and amateur weavers who learn along the way?
Tucked away in some of the most remote corners of the country, there resides a community of artisans which produce some of India’s finest carpets through the age-old craft of hand-weaving, a practice that is, however, on the verge of extinction. In 2004, Jaipur Rugs Foundation (JRF) was introduced to conserve this craftsmanship.
JRF concentrates on involving unemployed and unskilled women, living in rural villages and provide them training in the craft of rug-weaving. Once the women transform into working artisans, they get an opportunity to integrate with Jaipur Rugs’ ‘inclusive development model’. The subsequent phase is to deliver technical training and augment their skills and knowledge through up-gradation. This completes the skill-building facet of transforming women artisans to ensure they earn economic independence, working from home.
In an attempt to recognize master craftsmen and the potential of women in business, JRF started the Bunkar Sakhi Programme in partnership with British Council through this programme, young women weavers, with a thirst for more knowledge, are chosen for managerial positions and further trained to develop their skills .In order to identify master craftsmen/master weavers, who have the potential to grow, JRF engages weavers through a Weaver Engagement Programme in which they are given the opportunity to visit the Head Office, where they can see, firsthand, the finished carpets that have been woven by their own hands. This experience helps to instill in them pride in their work
For our average reader, how many steps are involved in the process of creating a Jaipur Rug?
Over 82 processes are required to make the rug. Round 180 hands work to bring out a handknotted carpet.
Jaipur rugs was conferred with the German Design Award, can you tell us something about this achievement?
Jaipur Rugs has become the only Asian carpet manufacturer to be awarded with the German Design Award-2016 in the product design category by the German Design Council. The Anthar Rug designed by Kavi, which won the international accolades, studies the beauty in imperfection as three weavers struggle to find their rhythm to produce a design side by side. The Project Error collection comprises contemporary rugs which discover beauty in errors. Project Error studies the concept of misprints, nature’s interruption of mechanical duplication to create unique pieces of overlooked art. Made of hand processed wool and bamboo silk, each rug employs 180 artisans to create these exquisite rugs. The German Design Council is an independent and internationally active institution that supports companies in efficiently communicating design expertise and also seeks to strengthen the broader general public’s understanding of design.
After winning the GDA 2016, Jaipur Rugs has garnered German Design Award 2017 (Special Mention: Excellent Product Design), second time in a row. What makes this achievement all the more special is that this year it was two of our rugs which had won the accolades. The award ceremony had taken place on February 2017 in Frankfurt, Germany. The two rugs – Kras and Taittu – were a part of Jaipur Rugs’ Free Verse collection, designed by Kavi. Kras recreates patterns from crushed foil paper. The rugs are created through carefully studying the way light falls on each crease. Taittu is designed from the patterns of a rib knitted sweater. Each rise and fall is the result of carefully hand-knotted wool and silk.
Given the number of man hours involved in designing the final product, what is the level of customization you offer and how much time is required to design a customized marvel?
We accept customization requests selectively from customers and interior designers. This offers customers an opportunity to choose from a variety of materials and get rugs custom made in varied qualities. Since we offer a wide selection of rugs available in various designs, sizes, colors and materials, we also encourage customers to buy from the available stock
When it comes to consumption of the products, is it more of Indian clients or international, if possible can you cite the names of some of your prominent clientele?
Our client’s base involves connoisseurs who have an impeccable taste for good design. Some of our prominent clients are Ritu Khandelwal – Alila Fort, Bhishangarh project, Rosy Malhi- Zanaki Creation, Vinod – Samriddhi Buildwell, Sruthi Reddy: Ceebros Hotels Pvt Ltd and Rakhee: Space Conception
Jaipur Rugs reminds one of the milk revolution ushered in by Dr Kurien, like Amul, Jaipur Rugs has played an important part in imparting freedom in the lives of the women folk who otherwise have very little options in a globalized world, how does it feel to have contributed to the society in a noble way?
Nurturing the creative capacity of our artisans and empowering them to fulfill their aspirations gives a satisfactory and happy feel. After making the women empowered in the rural belt, the expectation is that these women emerge as grass-root entrepreneurs, managing a specific component of the rug supply chain. Our endeavor lies in completing the skill-building facet of transforming women artisans; we aim at bringing economic independence for them while working from home.
Does this encourage you to widen your commercial interests outside your current entity which is dedicated to designing hand crafted rugs? What are the possible areas of your interest?
We have to mention that our core focus is rugs- We also make cushions with handmade rugs as they complement the aesthetics of any living space. We believe in focusing on our core product we are not into other floor or home furnishings at the moment.