– NK: You say, “Business is next to love. It is the creator and preserver of civilization.” Can you please start by telling us, how and where do you find the relation between business and love. Both, spiritually and practically?
– NK: Innocence, resilience & empathy is the foundation of your journey. How do you reconcile the hard capitalist mentality of business and empowering rural India and Indian women especially?
– KC: Can you share a macro picture of textiles in India w.r.t world standards?
– KC: How has your definition of design evolved when you look at India and the outside world?
– NK: How would you define the creativity of artisans in India? What does Art mean to you? How has your definition of creativity changed over time?
– NK: Given the inequality, can you share briefly the process of how you architected this bottom of the pyramid?
– KC: Indian’s are famous for their intricate work, which, because of the colonial rule and industrialization was lost. How come it still exists? You said it takes about 4 to 6 months for one weaver to make a hand made rug. Can you tell me more about this?
– KC: Can you talk a little about “aas-pass”? This is where they derive inspiration from.
– KC: Can you tell us the story behind Manchaha project? How and why did it emerge? What is the biggest learning from Manchaha project w.r.t ego battles of designers?
– NK: What is the long term future of Jaipur Rugs and overall artisans in India? Not just with Atmanirbhar Bharat but as a whole.
As a tradition that began over 2500 years ago, India remains one of the world’s largest exporters of handmade carpets. In fact, I recently read somewhere about why Mahatma Gandhi decided to use Charkha as a symbol of independence. Because the Britishers invaded India for our textile capabilities, quality, and overall output. Gandhiji wanted to symbolize the freedom movement through one of the attributes of textiles – Charkha – But that’s a story for some other time.
For ages, until 1978, exports have often been exploited by middlemen, and – artisans were undervalued, most weavers stayed at the bottom of the pyramid with very meager income levels.
Nand Kishore Chaudhary recognized this inequality in the weaving market and created the company, Jaipur Rugs which offered employment opportunities in remote areas of India. Starting with only two looms, he was able to connect people and now has built a network of over 40,000 artisans spread over five Indian states, 80 percent of whom are women.
His daughter, Kavita Chaudhary steers the design and brand philosophy at Jaipur Rugs. Before joining the family business, she refined her aptitude for design by working with design houses in Chicago and New York.
Today we are here to understand the broad landscape of textile design in India at the backdrop of Jaipur Rugs, real design sensibilities of India, and a short but beautiful case study called Manchaha.