DesignRaaga - sustainable, fair trade homewares

DesignRaaga - sustainable, fair trade homewares

Not all fair trade homewares suit contemporary homes, but Nandita Narayan, founder of online boutique DesignRaaga, has been scouring the world for pieces with real design flair as well as being eco-friendly and ethical

DesignRaaga products add colour but can be incorporated into modern homes

DesignRaaga products are made by artisans who are paid fairly for their work and use locally-sourced sustainable materials such as wool and wild cotton. Founder Nandita Narayan works closely with not for profit organizations such as Craftmark - Handmade in India to ensure the products she sells are made to fair trade standards. Pictured above: wool and cotton crewel work cushions, 12 x 24 inches, made in Kashmir. From £30.

No one likes to think that the products they buy might could have been made by someone in bonded labour in a sweatshop far away. So more of us are wanting assurance that if we buy something with a Made In India or Made in Vietnam label on it, then we can be pretty confident the person who made it received a fair day's pay for their work.

Nandita Narayan has set up her online boutique DesignRaaga to offer people the chance to buy stylish, original artisan-made homewares that are fairly traded and sustainable (many of the soft furnishings products are biodegradable). Pieces she's chosen for her first collection have the vibrant colours, originality and handmade charm of products made in India, Afghanistan and Mexico, for example; but what they don't have is that dated ethnic look that simply doesn't work in contemporary homes.

Chevon silk/cotton ikat floor cushions, made in Uzbekistan, 24x24in, £52
Block print quilt, made in Rajasthan, 90x90in, cotton voile, £75
Bread basket made in West Bengal from sabai grass with wood handles. Medium £14.50
Pink chevron stripe crewel work wool cushion, £27
Blue chevon ginger jar, hand-made and painted in Mexico, £59.90. 37cm high
Ceramic bowls with gold lustre made in UK by Kerry Hastings. From £73

'People want to buy fair trade products and they like artisan-made goods because of the skill that goes into them. But I think what people don't want are products that look too ethnic because they don't suit modern homes.

'So what I have done is to source pieces that have artisan charm and quality and which are unique, but which can been easily incorporated into our homes. I'm thinking of the chevon stripe, which is very popular. Our ginger jars from Mexico are hand-made and hand-painted and they look stunning in a minimalist interior, the same with our ikat chevon cushions, which are made in Uzbekistan.'

DesignRaaga has a very good collection of wool crewel work cushions made in Kashmir which offer a splash of vibrant colour;  block print quilts made in Rajasthan; ornately patterned ceramic trays from Jaipur and useful and attractive sabai grass baskets from West Bengal. But not everything is from outside Europe -  Narayan has sourced pretty ceramic bowls from ceramicists including British designer Kerry Hastings.

Narayan moved to London six years ago and after a career in the corporate sector decided she wanted to set up her own venture. 'I love hand-made products and on my travels was always amazed at the wonderful things people made,' she says. 'When I came to doing up my own home I couldn't find the type of homewares I wanted, so I decided to source them myself.. and DesignRaaga grew out of that.

'It aims to tell stories that bring beauty and melody, which is what the Sanskrit word ‘Raaga’ means. In an industry cluttered with mass-produced goods, we want to stand out by bringing tradition and history into your home through textiles, pottery, decorative items and art. Our products are made in countries that have a rich cultural heritage such as Mexico, India, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, as well as France and Belgium.'

DesignRaaga pieces are competitively priced and the company holds stock so you won't have to wait weeks for your order.