Long associated with royalty and the romance of travel, a company in Jaipur is redefining the idea of trunks as a luggage, by providing the ultimate luxury –customization.
Architectural Digest, Nov - Dec, 2013 - by Divya Mishra
For people whose peacetime pursuits, not less than two centuries ago, included inventing a staggeringly devious range of weapons, and building forts with ramparts 15 feet thick, Rajsthani’s are a warm lot. Their forts might loom imposingly from ochre hillsides, but inside-much like the people themselves-the structures are astonishly pretty, With delicate carvings, shaded walk waves and inlay work that would give the Taj Mahal serious competition, one such structure, The Rambagh Palace inJaipur, now run as a hotel by Taj Group, is a perfect microcosm of Rajasthani culture ,representing the state's royal heritage, its fierce pride, and its tradition of craftsmanship. Placed within it, are two sets of luxury leather trunks, custom-created by the Trunks Company Jaipur. Made of dark , coarse-grained Italian leather, they bear the Jaipur royal family's coat of arms on a shiny brass disc with the weighty words "Jato Dharma Tato Jayo "(where there is righteousness ,there is victory),with appropriate stateliness.
The Maharaja of Jaipur had actually been approached by some foreign brands for this commission. But he chose to give it to us because not only we are an Indian company; we are a Jaipur Company, “says Paritosh Mehta, one of the two founder owners of Trunks Company, Jaipur.
Set up in 2010 by Paritosh and his elder brother Priyank Mehta, the Trunks Company Jaipur intends to take India to the world by creating a global Indian brand built on the foundations of traditional craftsmanship, using the best materials available. It helps that the owners and their chief designers, the half-French-half-Italian architect-turned-product-designer Livio delegues are madly passionate their products.
Owing their invention in the late 18th century to the need for sturdier luggage that could withstand long travel, trunks came to be associated with the aristocracy around the world. Manufacturing them was an expensive proposition and personalized trunks went on to become family for subsequent generations.
In their previous avatar as furniture makers and exporters-a line of business in which they had been for 10 years-the Mehtas acquired insights into leather handling that planted the seed of an idea; what if they used their familiarity with leather and combined it with their knowledge of furniture and products? The seed took hold and grew into, what is today, the Trunks Company Jaipur; a brand so invested in quality, that to test the durability of the Trunks' brass hardware, they often dropped them from the second floor of their building. The Company was in research - and - development mode for three years before it started accepting orders for its products.
While the company began with creating basic leather cases, their products today are focused “more in the inside than the outside," says Paritosh. The line now features a sophisticated range of trunks, wardrobe trunks with elaborate sectioning, minibar-trunks, full scale-bar-trunks on German cases, watch cases(with built in winders)compact jewelry boxes lined with lambskin and a safe for those with more jewelry and consequently less peace of mind. For one particular order -a sikh gentleman's -they even created a display and storage dresser for pre-tied turbans, with each turbans on a specially designed wooden stand, tucked into a pull-out shelf(to ensure you don't have to reach in and ruin the turban's folds) lit with LED'S. The dresser's top flipped up to reveal a mirror at head-height so the gentleman could try on the turbans without having to carry them from one place to another. It is through our clients that our products evolve, says Delegues, adding that 90 percent of our product is bespoke. We are focusing on the idea that we are here to give something special to our customer through the making, through the quality, but most of all, through the level of customization we can give.
Of course, for those who want luggage that makes a stop-that-baggage-carousel statement at the airport, the basic (through heavier than conventional suitcases)leather cases are also available on order.
Each of the products have stylishly understand exteriors that opens out to reveal vivid interiors- a design element chosen to highlight the brands Indian identity, "we wanted to establish that we are very different from he classic trunk makers. So we thought, "well, we are in India, in Jaipur, & India is super colorful, so let's use vibrant colors," says Delegues. This reinforcement of an Indian identity, and specifically the link to Jaipur, is further emphasized in the company’s logo – A flower – like motif inspired by the marble Jalis found in the city’s palaces.
A visit to the factory beneath the atelier showcases the company’s obsessive attention to detail. The suede-used to line the trunks ‘interiors-is hand-rubbed to create a more textured nap.” The wooden skeleton of the trunks are manufactured at the separate facility to keep the wood dust away from the leather and the pasting process, and once the pasting and the stitching are done, a technician marks every seventh minuscule stitch with a pencil-this is where the brass nails ( Imported from Paris) will go. The brass hinges, draw bolds, corners and handles-designed by Delegues for aesthetics and durability-are hand-cast in Moradabad. And if that isn’t obsessive enough, each of the two parts of every draw bold are paired and numbered to ensure the perfect fit. Just hammering in the nails is a process that can take more than 200 man hours.
With so much precision going to the creation of each bespoke trunk, it’s stands to reason that the process of getting the final product to the customer is also very, very, very organized. Trunks are packed in custom made boxes to ensure they suffer no damage during transportation. Every delivery is sent a list of instruction for maintenance, with a company technician in tow, to familiarize the owner with their new acquisition.
“Our orders for now mostly from abroad,” Says Paritosh, when asked who his customers are, adding “but we have started getting orders from India also now.” An ideal situation for a company that prides itself on its world-class products with an unmistakable Indian identity.