In Rajasthan, design is everywhere

At Rasa at Rambagh Palace, the block-printing is done the old way with handmade wooden blocks, but the effect on their clothing and fabric is very modern—all clean lines, fluid silhouettes and striking colours. Life and business partners Manish and Madhu Tibrewal have been honing their craft for more than two decades, employing a team of mostly local women to create gorgeous saris, pillows and bed linen. Some intricate sari patterns are inspired by the wooden jaali window screens in Mughal and Rajput homes, while cushion covers feature layered wave motifs. Website

Run by the Lady Bamford Foundation, the mission at Nila House is to support local craftspeople using old techniques, especially natural dabu indigo dyeing, which is not only part of Indian heritage, but safer to use than many of the synthetic dyes that have overtaken it. It also supports responsible cotton farming, handloom weaving and hand-spinning on the charkha. The duotone products are more minimal than most Rajasthani design—almost Japanese in feel—but table cloths with 60 unique floral block-prints nonetheless refer to local symbolism, as do double-heart saris and napkins with indigo-dye bursts inspired by breaking water. Website

Tableware at Nila HouseAshish Sahi

In Jaipur’s Narain Niwas Palace, Jaimini Handicrafts specialises in modern takes on miniature paintings—an art form beloved by the Mughals. Jaimini uses local artists, who paint on handmade purana paper. Their art might directly mine Mughal times with depictions of court scenes and love trysts or have more contemporary takes on parrots, tigers or blue lilies. “We encourage our artists to remain open to styles and influences, as long as the art is rooted in tradition,” says shop owner Manjot Singh. “We believe this art form can still feel contemporary.” Website

Acclaimed, self-taught artist Shan Bhatnagar brings his devotion to Lord Krishna to his contemporary pichwai art and his work as an interior designer. The 400-year-old temple art of pichwai developed in Nathdwara, near Udaipur. A pichwai painting illustrates myths around Shrinathji, avatar of Krishna. Shan evokes the moods of traditional pichwai while swapping out the conventionally used natural dyes and acrylics on cloth for oil paints on canvas. He also occasionally embellishes the works with zardozi embroidery, semi-precious stones and even thikri—the glass mosaic that once created mirrored palace halls. Instagram

Nigarai M Grusio

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