Ayush Kasliwal and wife Geetanjali are helping evolve crafts into contemporary artefacts, says Teja Lele Desai

Ayush Kasliwal spent an idyllic childhood in Africa. The rich sights and sounds left a mark, and when it was time to choose a profession, he decided to study design at National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. He specialised in industrial furniture design, a non-existent industry in India at that time of his study, and then went on to explore other crafts in his home town, Jaipur.

Today, Kasliwal is known as a design visionary, one whose work fuses creativity and integrity. He believes that design “is in the relationship between an object and the people who interact with it. This is a very individual experience and the result is value”.

“To me, design is not just a physical-intellectual-commercial exercise, it is this all-consuming impatience, and an attachment more akin to giving birth (forgive my gender for not partaking in the more natural way if giving birth),” he says.

Supporting him ably at every step is Geetanjali, his wife and cofounder/muse of their design label. The couple has been working together since 2001.

The duo believe it’s as important to innovate as it is to preserve a skill, and so are constantly looking for ways to evolve traditional crafts into contemporary artifacts, accessories, textiles and furniture. The label also stocks lighting fixtures, personal accessories, stationery, and wooden toys.

The birth of their label was “meant to be”. Involved in myriad interior and architectural projects, they found that there was a lack of simple, well-made products and accessories in the market. They decided to step into the fray and develop their own. And their label, AKFD, was born. Soon after, Anantaya came along.

The architect and designer duo launched their flagship store in Jaipur. Anantaya showcases the edgy in-house brand AKFD besides curating an interesting mix of luxury objects rooted in tradition. Since then, they have put interior projects on the back-burner, preferring to focus on developing décor items, be it furniture or accessories. The key words when it comes to design at AKFD are “sustainability, social impact and future-ready”.

The designers are committed to development of ideas using local crafts that have evolved over centuries, and keen to create craft objects with a stylish cutting edge and contemporary twist. According to the designers, their label is about “being Indian, about making a cultural statement, and having fun with resources, craftspeople and ideas in the process.”

Being based in Jaipur is an advantage, according to the designers, as it gives them a wide variety of crafts to play with - beaten brass, stone carving, or mirror work. No wonder all their products reflect a detailed understanding of processes and materials, simultaneously paying homage to the tradition of crafts. Anantaya’s state-of-the-art production facility is located near Jaipur and is geared to high-quality manufacturing of furniture and objects.

All products at Anantaya are made with unusual yet traditional materials and processes, and wed form with function beautifully. Ayush and Geetanjali are keen to fashion products that are “simple, clever and useful”. The idea, they say, is not about making pretty things; it is about making things that are intelligent, things that have a reason to be, and things that solve common day-to-day problems.