World Wood Day: Meet India’s homegrown artists crafting everything from wall decor and furniture to jewellery and toys with wood

India’s homegrown artists are using salvaged wood and traditional crafting techniques to fashion wall art, jewellery, toys, and furniture. On World Wood Day this March 21, we look at a few brands that have been creating functional art out of wood

March 17, 2023 03:27 pm | Updated 03:27 pm IST

‘Dawon’ by Indian Haathi.

‘Dawon’ by Indian Haathi. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Dancing deities @ Indian Haathi

Launched in 2021 to support artisans impacted by COVID-19’s first wave, the Hyderabad-based Indian Haathi takes pride in its quirky creations that depict mythical and folk characters: Surabhi, a white cow, Ambhra the elephant, and Dawon the lion, among others.

Their latest collection of dancing deities (upwards of ₹600) is a tribute to the divine, says founder Krupanand Karthik Rambhakta, adding that he works with around 60 artisans from the craft community of Etikoppaka, Andhra Pradesh, who are famous for their lacquerware toy craft, locally known as Lakka Bommallu. “From the cheekiest Ganesha to Vishnu and Lakshmi, the stories, myths, and the symbolic representation of these deities have always been an intangible part of our life since childhood,” he says of the collection launching in collaboration with Bengaluru-based store Greenhouse.

‘Veera’ earrings by Indian Haathi.

‘Veera’ earrings by Indian Haathi. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Also part of their new launches is a range of earrings (upwards of ₹350). Krupanand explains how a skilled artisan can chisel and assemble each piece within an hour, but the “meticulous part of the production is the hand painting of various facial features and the finer details which usually takes up to six hours”. “We are working with various freelance storytellers and illustrators across the country to come up with a range of mythical storytelling books and activities, and also looking at launching our website and expanding our offline presence through various stores in South India,” he adds.

@indianhaathi are on Instagram

Custom caricatures @ Ulta Pulta Designs

Creations by Ulta Pulta Designs.

Creations by Ulta Pulta Designs. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Launched in 2015, Piyusha Singhvi of the Jaipur-based Ulta Pulta Designs draws from life’s complexities and “simplifies them by creating quirky products that bring joy”. The artist works with different mediums such as wood, paper, waste boxes (match boxes, phone boxes), and fabrics to create hand-painted and illustrated wooden plates, art prints, collectibles, and block-printed apparel. Launching this month is a range of wooden collectibles — Kaath Ki (meaning, of wood) — based on Rajasthan’s famed Kathputli craft, and a collection of quirky clay figurines of Gods and Goddesses. “We are also planning to launch a range of hand-painted wooden plates that will be available for sale from July,” says Piyusha.

A creation by Ulta Pulta Designs.

A creation by Ulta Pulta Designs. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Upwards of ₹200. @ultapultadesigns on Instagram

Custom decor @ Differniture

Known for her functional coffee tables, dining tables, chairs, wooden upholstered sofas, etc., crafted from salvaged wood, Aakriti Kumar believes all her products “are somehow inspired by Nature”. If not in its physical appearance — the Topographic Coffee Table has been inspired by terrace farming in the Himalayas — then definitely in the natural feel and texture of the wood, she says. For example, the way she accentuates a tree’s annual growth rings or the live edge (natural curve of trees and branches) of the planks cut from fallen tree stumps. 

Aakriti explains how, pre-lockdown, the Differniture team worked with interior designers, architects as well as homeowners to custom-make wooden products for residential and commercial projects. “That took a shift towards a larger project — the development of holiday homes in the Himalayas. Currently, all the products we are making are to furnish those cabins, however, we do have an inventory of pieces at our studio in New Delhi where clients can pick up ready pieces,” she says, adding that their manufacturing moved to Uttarakhand in 2020 “where we have better access to our raw materials — fallen trees from neighbouring forests of UP and Uttarakhand”. 

Chandeliers by Diffurniture.

Chandeliers by Diffurniture. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Taking us through the process of finding the wood, Aakriti researches and finds areas that consolidate wood deemed “useless” and put it up for auction. “I then go out to look for logs that I can use in my furniture, and I also reuse discarded wood from shipping containers, byproducts of the automotive industry, as well as old wood from floorboards of homes which are the best kind since they have been naturally seasoned and ready for use,” says the designer, who is also working on villas in Goa.

Upwards of ₹18,000 on

Watch | Hearing and speech-impaired artisan carves wooden pieces worth lakhs

Tabletop accessories @ The Beehive India

The Rooster Table by The Beehive India

The Rooster Table by The Beehive India | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The New Delhi-based design studio that works with indigenous species of wood such as neem, babool (from Alwar, Rajasthan), Ghana teak, and padauk (from Africa) to craft tabletop accessories and furniture is rooted in Indian craft. “Our prime philosophy was to have a close conversation and observe every piece of wood and allow the wood to decide the form of the product rather than us deciding the product,” says founder Pankaj Narain, who is now studying bird forms to create 2D wooden artworks. “Connecting a specific colour of wood with the appropriate colour in the bird’s body was an interesting experience. Once we receive the artworks from Mysore (where the marquetry work happens), we inlay them on a solid wood base to convert them into a table, tray, or a wall panel,” he explains. Other products in The Beehive India catalogue comprise trays, boxes, napkin and cutlery holders, cutting boards, and cheese serving platters, among others. The furniture range, he says, includes dining tables, chairs, beds, wardrobes, and more. 

Qutub Flower Coasters by The Beehive India.

Qutub Flower Coasters by The Beehive India. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Post the completion of the bird series, Pankaj says he will craft furniture cabinets using bird inlay as the front panels, and would also like to explore Kashmir’s famed pinjrakari art “to develop a series of furniture. “We are in the process of finalising the product ideas. We are keen to play with the grain, colour, lines, and texture further to create wall art,” he says.

Upwards of ₹2,500 on

Gond art @ Earthen Strings

From coasters and paintings to cotton tote bags and stationery, Preeti Thakur’s brand is a “personal ode to India’s traditional art forms”, particularly Gond art. “I find the combination of vibrant colours and seemingly simple shapes like dots, dashes, and curves mesmerising,” says the artist based in New Delhi who has now launched a collection of hand-painted wooden wall plates inspired by the art form which originated from the tribal communities of Madhya Pradesh.

A wooden wall plate by Earthen Strings.

A wooden wall plate by Earthen Strings. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“Each plate features intricate motifs such as animals, birds, and trees brought to life with warm, earthy colors of ochre, red, and green,” she adds, “the wood comes from small business units in Uttar Pradesh, and each piece typically takes me two to three days to complete” 

Plates upwards of ₹1500. @earthen-strings on Instagram.

Channapatna toys @ Toy Trunk

Launched in April 2021 by Priyanka Mangaonkar-Vaiude and Ajay Vaidya, the start-up aimed at engaging children sans screen time, champions Channapatna’s artisans who craft functional toys from wood. Co-founder Priyanka says their latest launches include Montessori bowls, threading shapes, lacing beads, kitchen sets, and rope stilts.

The kitchen set by Toy Trunk.

The kitchen set by Toy Trunk. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“Threading shapes and lacing beads are for preschoolers which help develop finger muscles and hand-eye coordination. Through our rope stilts, children learn to move, balance and lift their bodies against gravity and simultaneously develop full body coordination,” she says, adding that a stacking toy, designed to develop imagination in children and a folding busy board for children aged three and above are in the offing.

Toys by Toy Trunk.

Toys by Toy Trunk. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

While the Maharashtra-based brand’s artisans in Channapatna traditionally use ivory wood (locally known as hale wood) for making toys, they now work with other variants such as neem wood (locally known as Gauda neem), beech wood, and rubber wood, and use non-toxic colours. “Turmeric is sometimes used for yellow, indigo powder for blue, and deep red cosmetic powder, also known as kum kum, for orange and red.” 

Upwards of ₹390 on 

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