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The Saga of Modern Legacies

In this essay for ID, international interior designer & entrepreneur Shalini Misra talks about the importance of contemporary heirlooms that carry forward their stories through generations

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Every space I design holds a captivating story and for me, craftsmanship is the language of storytelling. Throughout my life, I have been deeply moved by the power of design to evoke emotions and create meaningful connections. Growing up in India, I was immersed in a vibrant tapestry of colours and cultures, where craftsmanship thrived. From religious festivals to the bustling streets, the artistry and skill of local craftspeople was everywhere.

It is this rich heritage that continues to inspire my approach to interior design. I seek out talented artisans and artists who can help me weave narratives into my projects. Whether it’s a hidden gem or an established talent, I embark on a journey to find those exceptional individuals who share my passion for creating something extraordinary. In my pursuit of meaningful design, I recently founded Curio, a platform dedicated to unearthing beautiful furniture, lighting, accessories, and art. These pieces serve as a celebration of human creativity and offer a profound counterpoint to our throwaway culture.

They are more than objects; they are heirlooms that will carry forward their stories through generations. Through Curio and my design practice, I aim to cultivate spaces that not only reflect individuality but also connect on a deeper, emotional level. Each piece I source, each artisan I collaborate with, adds layers of authenticity and soul to the spaces we create. It is my belief that by curating narratives through handcrafted items, we can transform ordinary spaces into extraordinary experiences.

The platform brings together the work of makers, designers and artists from across the globe who share a passion to experiment with materiality and technique. A great example of this is designer Nada Debs. Describing her work as “handmade and heartmade” her approach to design combines form, function and feeling, whilst celebrating Middle Eastern craft. I love the way she uses materials and traditional techniques to tell a story, as each product highlights the incredible ability of human hands.

Similarly, India-based lighting designers Klove Studio combine indigenous knowledge with contemporary practice. Employing age-old glass blowing techniques, the studio champions artisanal craftsmanship and local supply chains, with inspiration for their collections coming from sources as diverse as Indian temples, shamanic totems and the light of the Nordic region. Their unique sculptural lighting pieces play with reflection and geometry in such interesting ways.

Also based in India is design studio, Scarlet Splendour, working with some of the world’s leading designers to create extraordinary collections of luxury furniture, lighting and accessories, whose maximalist designs are handcrafted by the finest Indian artisans. Founded by siblings, Ashish Bajoria and Suman Kanodia, their childhood in metropolitan and multicultural Kolkata influenced their internationalist attitude, blending cultures with talented global designers. The result is distinctive and bold pieces that inject personality into any interior.

The purpose of Curio is to make it much easier to find and enjoy these amazing but little known makers, and in doing so, also help preserve their skills. Ane Christensen is the perfect example of an expert in her craft field; a silversmith by trade, Ane’s metalwork results in striking designs that contrast strength and fragility. Exploring a variety of different metals, she utilises this material using traditional techniques such as hand piercing, drilling and soldering, resulting in spectacular bowls and sculptural art.

Other masters with materials are Greek designers on.entropy, who explore both the character and capability of the archetypal Greek material, marble. Challenging the perception of Greek marble tradition, the studio produces intricate and delicate sculptures, evolving stereotypically heavy and compact qualities in a contemporary way. Their furniture and lighting pieces carry the story of millennia in their veins.

Equally inspired by age old tradition are Italian glass designers, Casarialto. Built upon centuries of Venetian expertise, each Casarialto glass creation is blown and finished by hand by Murano glass masters. The handmade nature of the products means each is totally unique, which can sometimes be identified from slight differences in markings. From jugs and glasses to vases, each piece is a colourful work of art, combining tradition, innovation and Italian craftsmanship.

Curio is the platform that I so often wished existed: a place where it is possible not only to source beautifully crafted accents for more artful interiors, but also to explore the stories and get to know the creative talents behind them. Our mission is to bring new communities of makers, aesthetes and creative patrons together to celebrate human creativity and craftsmanship. In doing so, we hope to preserve and safeguard these precious skills for the future.

Words by: Shalini Misra

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