Samarkand Design was founded by Hilly Grumbar and Carrie Hart in 2014. A pair bound not just by friendship but also by their shared passion for design and artisanal craftsmanship. At the beginning of 2020 Carrie retired from the business so Hilly continues to run it, ably assisted by Trish and Catherine. Harry, Hilly’s son is our technical guru.
Samarkand Design has been born out of a desire not just to reuse and recycle vintage Indian fabrics, but to also support the cultures they originate from and encapsulate their artforms. As inspired by the classic ‘English’ look as we are by our extensive travels across India and Africa, we have bought together a vibrant, eclectic mix of our favourite things. From lampshades handmade from vintage silk saris, beautiful and eccentric lamp bases, to suzanis, kanthas and rugs. Samarkand Design HQ (the barn next to our home here in North Devon) is a real Aladdin’s cave bursting at the seams! We are very much a small, family-run business and we welcome you to come have a look around if you ever find yourself at a loose end in the heart of Devon.
We love preserving and celebrating craftmanship that has been passed down through generations of families and supporting smaller businesses like ourselves. Our lampshades, interior design pieces and accessories are all ethically made and responsibly sourced. Every effort is made to reduce the impact we have on the earth and we are proud of the relationships we have built with individual artisans, fabric makers and small businesses involved in making Samarkand Design possible.
Our lampshade collections, explained...
All of our lampshades are lovingly handmade by artisans based in either India, Portugal or the UK. We actively try to reduce the air miles travelled by our products wherever we can. Where some of our products do travel a little further, we actively support small businesses in the community rather than relying on large production line corporations for which their working conditions and pay are unknown and possibly questionable.
Vintage silk sari lampshades – sustainability conscious unique interior design
Our vintage sari lampshades represent a beautiful collection of one-of-a-kind statement pieces which are handmade from repurposed Indian silk saris. Saris are functional garments for the women of the Indian subcontinent and are worn every day. They have a rich history behind them and every lampshade has its own story to tell. There are a wide variety of designs to choose from. Each vintage silk sari has been picked for its jewel-like patterns, colours and textures, reflecting the richness of India’s textile traditions. Ranging from zinging oranges and fuchsias to more subtle, neutral shades, we have endeavoured to curate a range to suit every design scheme. They are truly unique. Once they are gone, they are gone so no need to worry that your rival will copy your interior design style after complimenting your lampshade when attending your most recent drinks party!
The ’repeatable’ lampshade lines – hand picked and responsibly sourced
How frustrating it is to find the perfect shade you have been searching high and low for only to realise it’s not the right size? Unfortunately, this is the downside with the vintage sari lines. However, we have tried to combat this somewhat by now offering a range of repeatable lampshades. Over the years, we have formed relationships with some well-established small businesses in and around Jaipur that specialise in block and screen print artistry and are passionate about protecting our planet. The Bagru, Assam (cotton), Jaipur (silk), and Scallop (linen) collections are made from these fabrics especially for us. The intricate designs have been carefully picked by Hilly herself, some of her favourite vintage saris are the source of inspiration. These ranges represent her love of the textile artistry which she has experienced on her travels in India and along the Silk Road. All of these lampshades come in a range of sizes, starting with the miniature 10cm shade, (perfect for chandeliers, for example) right up to the largest 60cm shade. For detailed dimensions please see our fitting guide.
Bespoke Lampshade Service
Still can’t quite find the lampshade you are looking for? No worries! Please get in touch and we can almost certainly find you the perfect fabric, shade and fitting combination. We have a large (and rather beautiful looking) wardrobe filled with saris in a vast array of stunning colours and patterns, eagerly waiting to be turned into that special piece you are looking for. Just let us know what you are after and we will do our best! Bespoke lampshades have a rough lead time of 6 weeks and pricing will be dependant on the size and requirements.
Samarkand Design’s collection of unique and unusual lamp bases are specially designed to complement our shades.
Contemporary lamps include the Patala candlestick, the Adita Tree, and Curly Manali are all unique to us. Or if you are looking for something sleek and contemporary then the Iki lamp with its sensuous curves is a great choice and the ever popular and slightly quirky Aakriti can be ordered in a variety of colours.
We also have a collection of vintage Turkish pots, Moroccan Tamegroute, Ukranian glass and Japanese Kokeshi Dolls.
If we didn’t offer you enough already, we strongly recommend checking out our eclectic choice of cushions, rugs, throws and other accessories. All inspired by talented artisans and designed to enhance and preserve ancient skills, we have a unique collection of beautiful and inspiring textiles which is sure to satisfy most interior design tastes and trends.
We can also arrange to upholster headboards or chairs for you using any of our vintage textiles.
Fair trade, ethically sourced and sustainability conscious
The idea of Samarkand grew out of a desire to encourage and promote the traditional skills of the people we encountered on our trips. Sustainability and education are at the heart of Samarkand, which focuses on improving the lives of each of the artisans we work with, bringing hope and prosperity to communities where opportunities and living standards are often limited. We aim to build lasting and positive relationships with our suppliers based on the principles of fairness and social responsibility. Please read our ‘conscious creativity’ blog for more info.