When Hilly Grumbar and Carrie Hart began to create their exquisite pleated silk lampshades made from handcrafted textiles, interior trends were just starting to veer away from sleek minimalism to a much more colourful, maximal aesthetic. It was the perfect moment for the pair’s beautiful, bright shades, which, five years on, travel from Delhi to their Devon HQ and sell via their e-shop to a legion of interior designers and design-driven hotels, including The Pig hotels in the English countryside and many of the Soho House properties around the globe.
Grumbar and Hart share a background in costume design and film production, as well as a penchant for intense colour and intricate patterns – which can be seen in their choice of fabrics, largely from India and often in the form of vibrant vintage silk saris. The cloths are hand-gathered onto classic frames in seven sizes (£65 to £235), sometimes featuring contrasting panels just as the original pieces of clothing would have done. There are also shibori shades (45cm Shibori Pushkar silk shade, £195) that use the Japanese tie-dye technique on Tussar silk to create a cooler but no less covetable feel, while the Jaipur collection (25cm Acorn lampshade, £65) uses hand-blocked prints on fine cotton voile. As you would expect with such finely handworked pieces, ethical production and social responsibility have always been at the heart of the brand in both the sourcing of fabrics and the craftspeople the duo chooses to work with.
And it’s no longer just lampshades: Samarkand Design has expanded to include lamp bases – from vintage examples (from £200) to intricate wood and gesso work (£175) and handblown glass (£420) – and also cushions and quilts. The cushions showcase Indian textiles, some featuring Kashmiri crewel work (£80) and hand-embroidery from Nagaland (£94), while “the range of vintage Kantha quilts and textiles [£120 each] from Bangladesh or Bengal can be used as curtains or throws”, says Grumbar. “Our aim is always to add texture and colour to a room.”