Sustainable Luxury

Studio Variously’s handmade, eco-friendly textiles are giving a modern look to ancient artisanal craft
HANDMADE // The Sea Shell Throw, like many of Studio Variously’s textiles, was handwoven in India by master weavers. // Photography by Laur Nash | Styling by Anjali Purohit

Growing up in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, where design, art, textiles, and architecture are among the city’s many treasures, Anjali Purohit, the founder and creative director of Bloomfield Hills-based Studio Variously, a sustainable design studio whose in-house brand Variously focuses on ethically-sourced materials and artisan craftsmanship to create modern textiles, couldn’t help but soak up the inspiring visuals.

“I come from a place with a very strong legacy for design,” says Purohit, who earned her bachelor’s degree in accessory design at the National Institute of Fashion Technology in New Delhi, and her master’s at Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti in Milan, Italy.

Working through college in various design fields gave Purohit invaluable real-life experience and exposure to working with different materials, industries, and markets, learning what it “took to design collections” as well as gaining a better understanding of “the whole supply chain.”

“Most of your first experiences are to understand how things are getting made, how things are getting done, and that it could be (mass-produced) or it could be done by hand,” says Purohit, who has had opportunities in the past to work with both larger, more mass-produced businesses and on smaller more artisan-based projects. “You get these various kinds of experiences when you’re really young … and it changes the way you think and also helps you appreciate your own work.”

For Purohit, the biggest pitfall of working in larger-scale industries was that “you’re just simply churning out pieces after pieces without thinking, is this really necessary? Also, everything was heavily made on machines.”

Wanting to open her own company and feeling a pull toward more handmade designs, Purohit knew she wanted her business to take an artisan-based direction. “It was just a space I felt I could give more justice to my creative energies, as well as a better use of my time and my experience as a designer. I would rather enable more artisans than more factories, so it was a very conscious choice. I’ve had the fortune of working with many factories and big suppliers, so it could have been a really lucrative opportunity to just continue doing that. But I felt there would be nothing new that I would be doing, and if I’m taking the risk of starting a business, I might as well make it worth it.”

In 2016, Purohit launched her company, Studio Variously, with the mission of creating responsible products that are sustainable; crafted of ethically sourced, natural materials; and that utilize heritage weaving and dyeing techniques. She also wanted to ensure the safety of the artisans and the communities they reside in by only employing the use of non toxic dyes. “When you’re using materials that are natural and sustainable, it’s a safer environment for the artisans, because if they’re using highly toxic dyes, it can cause water pollution in the areas around them. So, for the people who are putting in their time and effort to create these pieces, their ecosystem shouldn’t be hampered,” Purohit says.

Clamp-dyed Tisa black cotton napkins, one of many thoughtfully crafted items from Studio Variously.

At the basis of her award-winning business is her commitment to the direct partnerships she has fostered with mostly women artisans in India, Nepal, and Peru who create the modern and minimalist lifestyle goods she designs and offers to both retail and wholesale markets under her trademarked Variously brand. From gorgeous rugs (this year she’ll be releasing hand-knotted, hand-tufted, and handwoven varieties) to graphic pillows, handwoven cotton throws, shibori hand-dyed napkins, and scarves (in sumptuous fabrics like linen, cotton, alpaca and silk with details like block prints and hand embroidery), her luxurious creations are giving new life to ancient craftsmanship.

A hand-knotted rug and silk chiffon scarf from Studio Variously.

She also collaborates with interior designers and architectural studios on projects in both commercial (such as hotels) and residential spaces. The beauty of working with skillful artisans, Purohit says, is that they can customize colors, sizes, and specific looks to “provide extremely unique, high-quality products.”

This May, Purohit’s remarkable designs will be showcased at ICFF + WantedDesign Manhattan, an annual trade event in New York City that promotes the creative community both nationally and internationally with conversations, exhibitions, and workshops.

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Text by Patty Lanoue Stearns | Photography by Laur Nash | Styling by Anjali Purohit