• Decor
Gulmohar Lane is a brand that is serious about sofas. Saurabh Ailawadi and Shweta Mewara had always been interested in the design space and were surprised to find a gap in the market for good quality, affordable sofas. We caught up with Saurabh to learn more about the stylish brand that they built together.

Discern Living

How did Shweta and you decide to begin a furniture brand?
Shweta and I got married in 2004 and began working together in 2012. Shweta graduated from NIFT and has since worked with brands like ITC, Madura Garments, VF-Arvind Brands and on several design projects. She has a great flair for home textiles and print design.
 
I also graduated from NIFT and worked with brands like Nautica, Lee, Diesel, Superdry, Paul & Shark and Steve Madden as a Visual Merchandising Head. I gained lots of experience with the constant involvement in the design process for projects of the store interiors where I would design and source a lot of furniture for some of these international brands in India.
 
Both Shweta and I had a clear goal - we had a common passion for crafting furniture alternatives that are simple, yet emanate and understand elegance. We were shocked to find such a huge gap when it came finding to a piece of furniture that was luxurious, beautiful and also came at a fair price.
 

Gulmohar Lane
Saurabh Ailawadi, Co-Founder & Managing Director 
Shweta Mewara, Co-Founder & Creative Director

 
Why the interest in sofas particularly?
Due to our past jobs, we moved cities every three to four years, which meant that we had the opportunity to plan our home décor every few years. Being passionately involved in designing our home, we struggled to find simple yet elegant furniture. Having grown up in cities such as Bhopal and parts of Assam, we both were drawn to natural materials and appreciated understated aesthetics, which we felt were rare to incorporate in the home. We found an abundance of low-quality products, over-the-top pieces made in ply-board, or cheap wood wrapped in synthetic fabrics. On top of that, everything was mass-produced from China.
 
With a natural flair for home and interiors, we had the idea of starting a lifestyle brand. Although initially we thought we would be traders, our research helped us realise that the quality upholstered furniture category was missing entirely in India; soon, we decided to jump into the designing and manufacturing of upholstered sofas. We started our product development from the terrace of our home with two karigars in 2012. From concept, product development to finally creating a customisation-friendly website, it took us nearly two years to launch we launched our platform on 14th February 2015.
 

Leatherette Sofas
Manchester Chesterfield Sofa, California Sofa, and Chesterfield Sofa 

 
What is your relationship with the artisans you work with? Why is it important for us to support these groups and their work?
While building our team, some of our new craftsmen would be amused by the amount of time we spent on each of our sofa designs for sampling and design development. At times, they would have to open and re-open a sofa to achieve the desired look. Many of them would crib that the amount of time spent on making one sofa at Gulmohar Lane was endless. Today, when they see the results of their hard work, we see how much pride that they take in their craft.
 
It is important for us to support our artisans and the craft because we love what we do. We’re both passionate about hand-made products and we are able to bring awareness about hand-crafted work through Gulmohar Lane. Our business model is predicated on generating continuous work for skilled artisans. While most businesses revolve around investing in innovative technology, our approach is different. We want to revive dying traditional crafts, bring awareness to such crafts, and make hand-made products mainstream. 
 
We are also associated with an NGO, Vishwakarma Swayam
Sahayata Samuh
, which is engaged in helping and providing education and training to local artisans.
 

Craftsmen in India
 

What would you say your aesthetic is? What kinds of designs do you gravitate toward?
We greatly admire the works of Timothy Oulton, Laura Ashley and Charles & Ray Eames - our design language is rooted in the timeless quality of classics. We also take a lot of inspiration from the rich heritage of upholstered products available in historic buildings around the world, and we feel that antique shops are great places to find classic and vintage designs.

 

Gulmohar Lane Furniture 

 
You use a lot of Ikat prints in your designs, was this conscious decision? How did it come about?
Ikat has been central to home décor before we can even remember. From traditional, scaled-up, printed, and embroidered versions, it has been constantly re-invented in each trend cycle. and we’ve seen some great embroidered versions too. It works great as an accent for any room. The traditional craft of Ikat weaving represents precision, technique, perseverance and a celebration of colours and patterns. It’s a must-have element for décor enthusiasts, worldwide.
 

Ikat prints furniture
Ikat Sofas and Armchairs

 
What trends do you see emerging in the Indian market?
We’re seeing a growing sense of love for homegrown brands and designers, which is very encouraging.  With the emergence of contemporary styles in home décor, we see a lot of people combining Indian sensibilities with global aesthetics. For example, you will see a wooden rattan armchair from Kerala combined with a pristine slipcover sofa. People are experimenting with their home décor like never before. This entire trend of buying “sofa sets” is waning and people are ready to combine different shapes to create an eclectic look that reflects their personality.  The Indian customer is evolving like never before, owing to the fact that they are well informed due to the travel, blogs, Pinterest, interest groups, etc. With the rising spending power and the awareness about the new home trends, the market has immense potential for growth. 

To discover more designs from Gulmohar Lane and buy their products (not limited to sofas!), download the Discern Living app (available now on Google Play store or iOS app store)!
 

 

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