Tarini Jindal Handafounded æquō in Mumbai in 2022 to create a home for Indian designers who fuse traditional craftsmanship and contemporary trends. She’s given a platform to artists like Cédric Courtin, a French designer based in Tamil who manipulates leather to give armchairs lively fringed skirts, and Chamar Studio, who warps and grommets rubber and canvas to form light sconces that double as wall sculptures.
In æquō’s London exhibition, Tarini will be spotlighting new works by Florence Louisy, æquō’s creative director. Florence’s new collection, Esmal, plays with India’s ancient art of enameling. In this practice copper and colorful glass are thrown into wood fire, which melds them into an iridescent, slightly translucent material adjacent to stained glass. The laborious process is usually applied to small trinkets, but Florence worked alongside artisans to experiment with enameling large pieces of furniture.
“Enameling is a universal technique, however, as is often the case, the most traditional methods create the most beautiful results. We have been working with these artisans for many months, learning about their processes and how we could respectfully push them to create pieces that are unlike anything else in the world,” Florence said. “My starting point for the designs were the enameling processes itself; only by understanding these is it possible to push them into new directions.”
The technique is beautifully featured in the Esmal Lights, which are rectangular sconces that sit flush to a wall, then rigidly fold along a copper corner to pop into another dimension. Green glass looks like it has been lightly brushed with gray pigment, a smoky texture generated from the firing process. The high heat also produces a coarse, rippling texture, which makes the forms feel more natural, like moss has grown over the fixture.
The wide and narrow Esmal Console is a delicate, oceanic fixture. It’s easy to see where its three individual sections have been bound together. They veer into a vertical border, following the shape of their mold, screwed together like the industrial seams in a submarine. They contrast the visibility of labor against the fragility of material, displaying the expertise needed to achieve perfect enameling.
In addition to the Esmal series, Florence is showing other works at PAD London. She’ll exhibit her piece “Office Bar,” a discreet cabinet made from oxidized copper and stainless steel sourced from Jaipur, and the “Camur” table, made from plywood with a shiny teak veneer supported on two thick, curvy pillars.
Other æquō designers include French interior designer Valériane Lazard, multidisciplinary artist and designer Boris Brucher, and their newest client, Estudio Campana, helmed by Brazilian designers Fernando and Humberto Campana. Each designer finds a way to combine their personal aesthetic with Indian crafts—like weaving, leather work, and metalsmithing—to create a new language in India’s design world.