Varnam offer a wide range of products in the home décor and lifestyle space. Today, it is a for-profit social enterprise that works with over 20 artisans in Channapatna. Its journey was started a few years ago thinking of rich architecture and innovative home décor products satisfying the need and demand of people. The products make an extensive use of beautiful and elegant textiles which is being sourced from weavers in North Karnataka. The research and development team with craft clusters support traditional crafts through regular work. Some of its range includes kids’ products, lighting, tableware, kitchen and bar, door and wall products and many other accessories.

The idea is to reorient the crafts work to the modern context by ensuring that each design has a utilitarian value relevant today. They focus on meeting the changing market trends in terms of finish, utilitarian value, attention to detail, etc.

Why Us

Craft Philosophy

VARNAM (colours) is an ode to colourful India. My attempt has been to bring my own aesthetic sensibilities and design philosophy to traditional crafts.

The idea is to reorient our crafts to the modern context by ensuring that each design has a utilitarian value and hence relevant today.

There is a constant dialogue on current market trends in terms of finish, utilitarian value, attention to detail, etc.In doing so,I hope to enhance the sense of pride amongst our master crafts-people for their skill and ensure that these crafts continue to thrive.

Varnam (meaning ?colours?) is a multi-award winning social enterprise that has been working with artisans in Channapatna, Karnataka, for over 4 years. The toy town or 'Gombegala ooru' is primarily known for Channapatna toys. However few have explored the true potential of the very versatile channapatna toy craft.

We have produced a series of designs interpreting the 200-year-old channapatna toy-making craft in the home and lifestyle, women?s accessories space, giving tradition a contemporary twist. Using the traditional lac-turnery method popularised by the traditional channapatna toys range, we have produced home and lifestyle products, toys and jewelry.

Varnam closely trains and employs male and women artisans of Channapatna. In an industry where more than 90% of the artisans are men, many of Varnam?s products have been handcrafted by women artisans.Proceeds from the sale of Varnam products go into the design and production of more innovative products while striving to keep the craftswomen employed.

A recipient of the Kyoorius Design Awards 2013 in Design Craft and Packaging, and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Design Excellence award for its ?Oinkston tableware? series 2013 and the CII Design Excellence award for visual communication and packaging 2014, Varnam also trains and works with interns of well-known design institutes.

Each product in the ?Stories from Channapatna? series has been painstakingly handcrafted by an artisan from Channapatna, Karnataka using the age-old tradition of lac-turnery. Traditionally used to make toys, this craft requires tremendous skill and precision. CHANNAPATNA, a small town on the outskirts of Bangalore, is popular for its wooden toys and lac-ware. As a result of the popularity of these toys, Channapatna is also known as Gombegala Ooru (toy-town) of Karnataka. Its traditional craft is protected as a geographical indication (GI) under the World Trade Organization, administered by the Government of Karnataka. The origin of these toys can be traced to the reign of 18th century ruler Tipu Sultan who invited artisans from Persia to train the local artisans in the making of wooden toys.

In recent times though, this craft has been dying a slow death. The major factors have been the lack of innovation in terms of design and the Chinese invasion of mass-manufactured, cheaper look alikes. Also, while there have been design interventions in the past, few have ensured sustainable work for these craftspeople. The fact that this craft was primarily used for making toys added to its woes.

It was in this context, that VARNAM started its work over two years ago. The attempt has been to reorient this craft to the modern context by ensuring that each design has a utilitarian value and an aesthetic that is current. The result is a series of products in the home and lifestyle space that has showcased the adaptability of this traditional toy-craft and widened its appeal. Transformed as cute-sensible products, the glossy toys of Channapatna had now crawled out of the nursery to perk up kitchens & living spaces!

Most Crafts in India continue to remain fragmented and have little focus on building a strong brand or consistent imaging. We at VARNAM believe that a strong communication and product design in the crafts sector hence assumes an even more significant role. It enables these traditional-crafted products to be showcased on par with the contemporary-created products of today in lifestyle stores and not be limited to the craft-fairs alone.

Why buy a Varnam

VARNAM (colours) is a social enterprise that has been working for the past few years with artisans in Channapatna to reinterpret its 200 year old toy crafts. The result is a series of awards-wining, original designs in home accents & lighting, toys and jewelry. An ode to colourful India, our attempt is to reorient our crafts to the modern context by ensuring that each design has a utilitarian value and thereby relevant today. We hope to enhance the sense of pride amongst our master crafts-people for their skill and ensure that these crafts continue to thrive.

While we have never worked for the awards, it does feel good when we are recognised for our work. Varnam's work in the Channapatna craft has won us a few awards along the way.

  • 2013 - The KYOORIUS DESIGN AWARDS Blue Elephants for Packaging & Design Craft categories.
  • 2013 - The CII DESIGN EXCELLENCE AWARD for Excellence in the Industrial design - Home products category.
  • 2014 - The CII DESIGN EXCELLENCE AWARD for Visual Communication Design - overall category winner and sub category winner.
  • 2015, 2016 - Nominated among the top 10 Craft Design studios in India by POOL magazine.
  • 2016 - Featured in the top 100 Design Power List by Good Homes Magazine
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