WALK through the workshop of Vinayak Home, a furniture-making outfit based in the outskirts of Jodhpur in the state of Rajasthan in north-west India, and the results of globalisation are evident. Sleek hardwood furniture that would suit Scandinavian interiors is being readied for shipment; carpenters distress the paint on a newly-made chest of drawers to make it look as if it has come straight from a flea market in Brooklyn. But the company’s order book suggests that globalisation is fading. Vinayak Home is one of a cluster of Rajasthan furniture-makers that used to do nothing except export to Europe and America, but nearly all of what they make today they ship into Indian living rooms.
Jodhpur, on the edge of a desert with few trees to feed sawmills, is an unlikely woodworking hub. But when tourists came to survey the arid landscape and the 15th-century fort that overlooks the city, many also admired the hardwood carvings by skilled artisans (pictured). When India liberalised its economy in the early 1990s, a small group of European exporting agents encouraged independent furniture-makers. Then volumes…Continue reading