At Alankaram, which means the art of decoration or ornamentation in Sanskrit, Anupriya Sahu, the founder and design head, primarily focuses on customizing indigenous, minimalistic designs with precise joinery, combining the strength of solid wood with a modern range of upholstery.
Sahu, who was born and bred in Sagar in the Madhya Pradesh state of India, completed her schooling from Saraswati Shishu Mandir, where she had actively participated in extracurricular activities such as painting and sketching.
“My family background is also responsible for the path that I took,” she says. “My mother has been an artist, and my father a civil engineer. This made me inherit their creative skills, and I decided to pursue my career on similar lines.”
Sahu moved to Mumbai to study architecture at the Pillai College of Architecture.
“Curiosity and attentiveness to assignments led my thesis project, ‘Redevelopment of Balganga Housing,’ to be recognized in urban design development,” she says. “This was the product of my fortunate training under mentors like Smita Dalvi, Jinu Kurien, Shilpa Sinha, K.T. Ravindran, Ujan Ghosh, Sanjay Kanvinde and many such great teachers.” The work in urban design and architecture sowed the seeds for her entrepreneurship journey.
After she completed her master’s degree in urban design, she worked for a few years with architectural firms.
“I was very fascinated with furniture design,” Sahu says. “Additionally, I found wood very interesting during my design practice. That’s exactly when I decided to start with furniture designing.”
Alankaram originally started as an interior design practice back in 2013. It was then that she discovered there was a dearth of skilled artisans for the furniture industry during that time.
“My husband, Dhwanit Parmar, hails from an IT background, and I had an architectural one. So, by 2015, we planned to work on this problem and decided to start with Alankaram,” she says. “He has always found me full of potential and supported me in fulfilling my aspirations of setting up a furniture manufacturing unit.”
Sahu described her strategy: “Our products are flexible with upholstery and wood finishes. The customizations in the existing designs are executed as per the client’s requirements. It is because of our design skills and aesthetics that architects, designers, and clients trust us with work ethics and flexibility on bespoke services. For the entire residential projects, we also develop storage unit designs.”
The range of furniture includes residential and commercial, indoor, and outdoor, wooden and metal, standalone and fixed, ready-to order and bespoke. It covers everything from as tiny as a tea coaster to as large as a 24-seater dining table.
Design trends change every season and recur in cycles, evolving each time.
“One trend that I notice is that the users are going for minimalistic and sleek designs that have a touch of Indianness,” Sahu says. “Such designs incorporate vibrant and bright upholstery with defined motifs. Additionally, furniture clubbed with artistic elements like hand-painting and inlay work is also trending.”
Sahu is inspired by Danish designs and style, which speak of minimalism, are simple yet utilitarian. H. Wegner, a respected Danish furniture designer who is one of her personal favorites.
Since the inception of Alankaram, Sahu says her family has stood by her side.
“My father has been a huge help in our startup,” she says. “When Alankaram was being started in Delhi, there were space constraints. He assisted us with a knockdown shed. Later, when we moved our entire set-up in Indore, my younger brother Aman, a civil engineer, helped us build a 200,000 sq ft workspace with well-equipped and latest woodworking machines. All this time, my mother has always been the backbone. While we were busy taking care of our new venture, she took care of us in every possible manner. All the artistic furniture collection is designed under her guidance as she is the art director of Alankaram.”
She says cousins Harsh and Himanshu have also been a huge support.
Outside work, Sahu loves spending time with her twin sons.
“I like taking them on a two-wheeler ride and watching them learn,” she says. “Apart from this, pottery and sculpting are my leisure time activities.”
Looking ahead, Sahu says she hopes to make Alankaram a complete home décor and furniture brand is not limited to the Indian market, but across the globe.