Lucy Ferguson was living in Kerala when she went to her first Pooram festival – an intoxicating frenzy of decorated elephants and elaborate umbrellas that would then inspire the East London Parasol Company she launched in 2016, now located in Hackney. Her wonderfully intricate designs draw on traditional crafts: the beautiful fabrics are block-printed in Jaipur or handpainted in Bali, while fringes are made in Kerala by artisans who create the same trimmings for temple umbrellas. As Ferguson puts it: “Lots of hands have worked on our parasols to make them splendid.”
Take the 3m-wide Big David (from £595) in a classic cream cotton-canvas with a perky parrot-printed interior – it has Arabian-influenced scalloped edges punctuated with substantial tassels. The similarly shaped Big Aretha (from £595) is also popular in a variety of zigzag prints. Both designs are waterproof and built around elegant pale-wood structures and brass fittings. There are also 2m-wide versions (£315) of the same designs, as well as more ornate styles, such as the hot-pink Whitney (£399) with a gold-painted Balinese pattern, fringing with beaded pom-poms and a hand-carved durian-wood pole and finial, and the suzani-print Dolly (£315), which has a tilting pole, pink tassels and a turquoise interior.
Bases are covered, too, including one (£295) in cream carved sandstone from Rajasthan; another (£120) using lava from Mount Agung. And with alfresco entertaining front of mind, Ferguson has also developed a range of complementary pom-pom cushions (£30) that add vibrant pops of colour to garden party proceedings.