Launching today in public beta, MADE x HANDS aims to inspire interiors that are exquisitely handmade and intentionally inclusive.  The company’s contemporary designs celebrate the cultural contributions of the Asian and African diasporas while helping revive the ancient art of natural dyeing.  MADE x HANDS’ debut collection of throw pillows, rugs and blankets are all made by hand using luxurious, sustainable materials such as cashmere, wool and silk.  

Bryan Turpin, African-American and raised in the U.S, and Samita Malik, a native of India, founded the business in Bangalore.  Already partners in life, they combined their corporate experience with their cultural curiosity and passion for travel.  The couple have lived in five countries and visited almost four dozen more; along the way, acquiring a strong appreciation for traditional textiles, foreign art and antiques.

Rewriting the Narrative

In the conception stage of MADE x HANDS, Bryan already knew what message he wanted the brand to deliver to the world – one of authenticity and inclusivity. 

“When we first researched this category [of home décor], we noticed a disconnect in how décor from Asia and Africa was being presented to Western audiences – it’s essentially whitewashed,” he says.  “We reflexively refute the colonization of decor and interior design by Eurocentric gate-keepers.”

In turning this narrative on its head, the MADE x HANDS collection is decidedly different, almost defiantly so.  Crafted to be conversation starters, the pieces are richly colored and tantalizingly textured, a refreshing contrast to the monotony of muted tones and plain patterns masquerading as modern in the industry today.

Distinct by Design

The first debut product category is throw pillows, featuring a series of signature MADE x HANDS patterns and colors.  One highlight, the Chokwe comb collection, is inspired by antique hair ornaments that were originally carved by artists along the Congo River.  Each pillow is woven by hand, with hand-embroidered Chokwe comb designs on either sustainable silk or crisp linen

Also included in the launch are hand-knotted runners and area rugs.  Carpets were highly coveted and one of the earliest textiles traded along the ancient Silk Routes.  Each rug’s plush pile is knotted by hand in mulberry silk, bamboo silk or worsted wool.  The original designs draw inspiration from ancient architecture, abstract art and tribal traditions across Afghanistan, Egypt and Morocco just to name a few.

The third pillar of products to premier on the site is an exclusive assortment of 100% cashmere throw blankets.  After sourcing the finest cashmere from Kashmir, MADE x HANDS weaves its unbelievably soft throws on simple wooden looms, relying on the spectacular skill of artists whose history weaving cashmere goes back generations.

Deep Roots

For Bryan and Samita, the work of bringing culture and craft to the forefront of contemporary design is a calling close to their hearts.  Bryan’s late grandfather, Dr. Robert Turpin lived in an architect-designed, mid-century modern home that showcased a handmade collection of art from his trips to Africa.  For a time, Bryan lived with his grandfather, and being exposed to craft from the continent, left an early imprint on him.  Halfway around the world, Samita spent her early childhood in Kashmir, the contested region at the foothills of the Himalayas.  In Kashmir, working with cashmere is a way of life.  Locals make their livelihoods herding and shearing goats, spinning and dyeing yarn, and weaving beautiful blankets and shawls.  She was also exposed to the vast outer reaches of India, as her father’s military career took her family on a trek across the country.

However, it’s more than just a personal journey: with decades of ecommerce and operations experience, the duo is bringing their professional expertise to the forefront as well.  Bryan worked in New York, driving demand generation for Amazon’s fashion subsidiary Shopbop and while based in Hong Kong, he built digital marketing capabilities for companies across Asia Pacific.  Samita is a digital pioneer in her own right, honing her craft in the insurance space. 

A Bright Future

The beta launch of MADE x HANDS forms the foundation for a robust roll-out of collections and categories over time.  Each future release will follow the same formula - made by hand, naturally dyed and celebrating the cultural heritage of peoples and places along the ancient Silk Routes.

Aside from a broader and deeper product assortment, the website will expand and evolve into a rich user experience that includes integration with inventory and offline services. 

“We want to consistently inspire those who seek out exceptional, original decor for their homes… We want customers to feel seen, and feel like their culture is reflected in the products they buy.  MADE x HANDS will be a breath of fresh air in an industry that is stuffy, stagnant and stifled by its lack of diversity.  Our tribe values design, sustainability and diversity; and now they have a brand to call their own,” says Bryan.