Design Feature > Katran


Materials are given second lives in India everyday. Newspapers into peanut cones, old saris into quilts, jeans into storage bags, vegetable peels into compost. Sahil Bagga (College of Art, 2002, Politecnico di Milano) and Sarthak Sengupta (NIFT 2001, Politecnico di Milano) researched on farmers spinning left-over fabric strips (Katran in Hindi) from cloth mills into ropes for making Khatias (string beds). They developed the idea as part of their ‘Zero Kilometre Design Concept™’ to later create a collection of products named Katran.

Sarthak Sahil Design Co was founded in 2009. A multi-disciplinary practice, it works on furniture, products, graphics, brand consultancy, trend development and research, interiors and spatial design. Their portfolio has a mix of identities – the interiors seem to dwell on symbolism, the lamps are slightly kitsch and objects like the metal platter and jewellery have a different aesthetic altogether. But on the whole, the effort seems to do something that is grounded, crafted, local and Indian. Their collection, Katran, seems a coming together of thoughts towards that direction.

Sahil & Sarthak say: “Developed as part of the ‘Zero Kilometer Design™’ concept, the Katran Collection has been our effort to weave ethics, ethnic and ecology with the contemporary culture.”

Sahil & Sarthak say: “Buying our Katran products won’t save the world, but it’s a step towards the right direction.”

The collection is simple and well-crafted. It would be interesting to see their version of a charpai (string bed), perhaps headboards for beds, blinds, even jewellery, using katran.

The choori lamp, made with Indian bangles and a hanger. Lovely.

In conversation with Sahil and Sarthak.

Indian By Design: Sustainable seems to mean many things to many people. What does it mean to you?

Sahil & Sarthak: We try to design products which are as sustainable as possible, through out its products cycle, that is from the time of selecting or preparing the material, transportation, production and finally its disposal. The product has to be environmentally sustainable as well as socially sustainable.

Indian By Design: How did Katran come about? Did you start with the raw material or did the idea lead to the raw material?

Sahil & Sarthak: Katran chair was first made during an interior project for one of our clients, The interior project was based on ‘Zero Kilometer Design™’. We found the material during our research, and it took us more than an year to customize it to our needs.

Indian By Design: What is the process of making products with Katran?

Sahil & Sarthak: After the designs are finalized, the structure is the first step, and then we decide the color pallate and patterns, Organize and sort the material, and then the weaving takes place.

Indian By Design: Your work other than Katran has a varied aesthetic. Did Katran change the way you worked?

Sahil & Sarthak: The Katran products are a part of our Brand philosophy, which Ethics, Ethnicity and Ecology. When we work with other materials and skills, it remains a constant in our design approach.

Indian By Design: Did it change the way others perceived your work?

Sahil & Sarthak: Yes, it is one of our most popular collection in India and abroad. By this collection people have recognized our efforts of using sustainable materials and processes.

Indian By Design: What are you working on currently?

Sahil & Sarthak: Other than new products using some untouched materials and skills, we are exploring new techniques and products with katran. We have recently finished designing and fabricating, products, furniture and lights for Neemrana Hotels latest property Tijara, at Alwar, Rajasthan. We are working on some interesting products for an upcoming project, details of the same have to wait.

<There are little gems hidden away in their portfolio like the Longpi wall pockets and Magia Nera work, the wool hanger cover and the Munjh grass shoe cleaner. Do discover those on their website and keep in touch with their work on Facebook.

Via Purvi Sanghvi

11 Responses to “Design Feature > Katran”

  1. Reblogged this on insideout.

  2. I am really enjoying reading your well written articles. It looks like you spend a lot of effort and time on your Stuff. 🙂

  3. This is a nice post in an interesting line of content. Thanks for sharing this article, great way of bring such topic to discussion. I found lots of interesting information here. The post was professionally written and I feel like the author has extensive knowledge in this subject. 🙂

  4. 4 Nupur

    From where can I buy the Choori Lamp??? email at

    • 5 K

      I’ve shared your query with the makers Nupur. They will get in touch with you on the details.

  5. One gets a sense of relief that the design traditions of India are in safe hands albeit few and far between. I have always felt threatened by what is being sold in the malls and in home stores in the name of design. Design it is , sure, but not pleasing to the aesthetic sense.Katran is a treat to the eyes. It’s stunning.
    Kavita, your writing style makes it so easy to understand art in design.


  6. Fantastic work by katran, and a wonderful article by you… would love some for my place

  7. superb,,, excellent blog,,, keep blogging!!!!!

  8. 9 seemaa

    ABSOLUTELY STUNNING— its so gooood to see that designers in India are bringing together so many different points of views to make product .
    what an incredible exchange of ideas and business. I only hope that the end producer is making wages that at-lest try imitating the western hand made value system– because in all other aspects we do try and walk their walk .
    I see u do business with the UK – Have you ever thought of openig in north America – Brand India



    • Hi,
      Thanks for showing interest in our katran collection. This collection is very near to our heart and we had started this project more as an experiment to see if a seamless and pragmatic system could be created between various actors living in different parts of India, to design and develop products and furniture which has an Indian spirit but an international appeal. We were overwhelmed by the response we got from the market and ever since this collection has grown and spread to various cities and store in a very spontaneous manner but without upsetting the original values.

  9. so amazing and different. Would love to own one.

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