At the most basic level, what sets luxury brands apart from fast-moving labels are the quality and craftsmanship of their products, and storied histories that span decades, sometimes centuries, that they often draw from. It is uncommon to find relatively new brands functioning in the same league, but it’s a bridge Cocoon Fine Rugs, the luxury rug makers who craft each one of their carpets by hand, have crossed. Be it raw materials, handicrafts, colours, patterns, textures – the brand focuses on all to create fine floor furnishings that are unlike any other in the country.
Completing a decade this year, they celebrated the occasion with the opening of their fourth store in Jaipur, which follows outlets in Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Kolkata. Terming their stores as ‘rug galleries’, founder Ayush Choudhary calls it a unique rug browsing experience where one can soak in the story behind each piece. The idea is for anyone to browse their collections at leisure, and take their time to understand the legacy of each carpet.
The 5,000 sq. ft. Jaipur store certainly aides this, as we experienced when we visited it for the launch. With award-winning collections such as Colors of Life, Chand LC, Isfahan, Superluxe, Urbane, Kasbah being showcased, Choudhary explained how the brand’s signature hasn’t changed in an overarching sort of way, “but our style has evolved. Underlying principles remain the same but it has just got a fresher approach – based on our travels, the art and media we consume, interactions with export customers, designers and architects in India…”
What’s added to the brand’s legacy are its collaborations, including with fashion designers Varun Bahl and JJ Vallaya, and with architects Rooshad Shroff and Ashiesh Shah. “What we started with about five years back was to push ourselves out of our comfort zone and also have a distinct ‘India modern-ness’ to our brand [which led to these collaborations].”
A second-generation rug maker, Choudhary developed an eye for the craft early on, while making rounds of carpet weavers across Rajasthan and Gujarat with his father as a young boy. Fast forward to 2009, when he was backed by dual degrees from University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and a Masters Degree from London School of Economics, and set out to establish Cocoon, now recognised for its signature of amalgamating ornamental elements from classical carpets with contemporary abstract designs.
Having spent his childhood in Jaipur, it was only a matter of time that Choudhary brought the brand to the heritage city. A family-run business, his father and wife are actively involved in everyday on-goings, and the effort that goes into the making of each rug is apparent – weavers make each knot carefully, setting it in place with a ‘khurpi’, and coordinating the colours based on the graphic representation of the rug in front of them. However, this is just the beginning. The rugs then go through a rigorous cleaning process requiring two persons, polishing off extra thread work, and undergoing three quality checks before they make it to the store. Starting from a weaver’s house in the outskirts of Jaipur to gracing spaces as far as South America, the US, Europe, and more, the journey of each piece is a long, meticulous one.
From inception to completion, each rug takes about seven months to make. All of their stores house 200-300 rugs, and one design is not repeated more than 4-5 times, thus making each one a limited edition, even though not officially called so. While the classics continue to be in demand, the current bestsellers are transitional prints, Choudhary tells us. “Modern, contemporary styles; a play on the classics, are doing very well.”
Consistently building Cocoon Fine Rugs’ legacy over the last 10 years, he shares his philosophy behind the brand, “A good rug guy is like a family jeweller. It’s not a one-time purchase, and the idea was never about making one deal, not being transparent and passing on crazy prices. If you have good relations, then the customers’ family, friends, everyone is going to come to you and have greater trust in you. So maybe we’re that ‘family jeweller’ rug brand!”
As the spanking new store takes forward the ethos of Cocoon Fine Rugs, Choudhary signs off by speaking of his inspiration for designs. “Good design comes from looking at the past. And it also comes from very simple things of joy from around.”
All images: Courtesy Cocoon Fine Rugs