How big is the design team at Obeetee? How different are products in terms of design and quality for export and in India?
Our designers are the backbone of the rug creation process. They have an intimate understanding of the weaving medium and an in-depth knowledge of art and design, both historical and contemporary. We send our top designers all over the world for research and inspiration, and they return to our studios in India and New York with fresh perspectives on traditional crafts. They push the boundaries of colour, texture and pattern to bring to life visual masterpieces, making authentic, handwoven designs accessible to the rest of the world.
What are the activities planned at Obeetee for the next two years?
The plan for the future is to continue to do what we do well and further develop our lines, while also still focusing on the manufacturing. Our products are always of the highest quality and made to ethical standards, and we want to increase our collaboration with designers across the globe. To date, we have collaborated with designers in the UK, the US and Germany and in India we worked with designers like Tarun Tahiliani for the first edition of 'Proud to be Indian' and recently Abraham & Thakore for the second edition. Each of these collections express the unique sensibilities of their designers.
As India's economy continues to grow, weaving carpets will become too expensive. So, what is the future for handmade carpets in India and in the international market?
We are focused on the present and future where demand will still be strong. As with all businesses, the handmade carpet sector will go through a transformation, but we are prepared to meet those challenges with innovative solutions-ones that build on the strength of what we already have- talented, creative, loyal employees and artisans, state-of-the-art equipment and processes and a deep and abiding commitment to ethical standards and environmental responsibility.
How has the handmade and hand-tufted carpet market of India evolved? What kind of challenges do you foresee in the future?
The quality control has been greatly enhanced with improved technology. Every Obeetee product now carries a digital fingerprint telling when it is loomed, and where. Even if your carpet contains over 400 knots per square inch and takes six weavers a year to finish, Obeetee quality control experts watch every step of the way. At the touch of a computer key, we can track its buyer, design and loom owner's name (along with the names of his family). Progress is monitored on a real-time basis; so, the latest updates are always available. The in-house laboratory tests every wool shipment to ensure it meets stringent quality standards. Going forward we expect the technologies to continue to improve and the global economy to continue to provide opportunities and challenges. The growing affluence of the Indian consumer means a larger market for our products.
Have Brexit and Trump's presidency had any impact on the exports?
They have not affected our exports significantly to date.
You launched the second edition of the Proud to be Indian series with Abraham & Thakore. Tell us about the collaboration.
The collection draws on the rich repertoire of Indian textile tradition with a strong respect for material, craft and form, while expressing a quiet and modern design aesthetic. Inspirations include the borders of vintage saris from Kanchipuram, block prints from Sanganer and the traditional tie-and-dye bandhani from Mandvi in Kutch. The geometry of double ikat telia rumals seamlessly unifies with the block prints and tie-dye telling the tale of quintessential Indian textiles. Designs based on calligraphy display the technical virtuosity of a hand-knotted carpet, where millions of threads are individually knotted together to create the complex surface of matt and sheen.
How is the organisation committed towards sustainability?
We use safe dyes and chemicals, and we were the first in the industry to set up a water effluent treatment plant, helping to protect the surrounding countryside, and air pollution control systems. Our environment-friendly power systems run mainly on gas derived from biomass, and we contribute to healthy communities by planting trees and developing parks.
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