Interview with co-founder Sarah Fotheringham
A feeling of delight and excitement came over me when I first laid eyes on the Safomasi brand. I discovered them at a collaboration pop up shop at Bungalow 99 in Defence Colony several years back. A wonderful display of bright and colourful fabrics, homewares (cushions, throws, tableware), shirts and bags with a story behind each unique fun design. I was simply amazed with their attention to detail in both design and craft.
Founded by British-Indian couple Sarah Fotheringham and Maninder Singh (brand name Safomasi is cleverly taken from the first two letters of their names) the award winning design studio and brand have been a great inspiration to contemporary brands coming out of India. The couple are based in London and New Delhi and we caught up with Sarah via email to ask about their story, inspirations and beyond.
Mangoli Mag (MM): Safomasi the brand was founded in 2012. Could you tell us how the two of you came to create the brand and its concept?
Sarah Fotheringham (SF): Safomasi began as a way for us to work and travel together, inspired by a sketchbook of drawings I (Sarah) had made whilst traveling around India. It started quite organically, experimenting with printing my patterns onto fabrics. We both loved the process and outcome and encouraged by friends decided to take it further as we saw there was a gap in the market for unique handcrafted and high quality homewares with a contemporary, global feel. With Safomasi we create collections of home textiles that tell the story of our travels all over the world that are loved by customers in India and abroad.
(MM) Your travels and the love of storytelling seem to be at the heart of your creations, please tell us about your latest inspirations.
(SF): Our latest collection, Indian Ocean, was inspired by travels to Mauritius. The prints include illustrations of tortoises, birds, flowers and tropical fish, capturing the beautiful nature and vibrant colours of the island.
(MM): Reading about the process of your work, there seems to be a balance between contemporary ways of design and working with Indian artisans. What’s the attraction to working with artisans? Do they add a different appeal to your works?
(SF):We love the character that artisans bring to our designs. We specialize in hand screen printing, a process in which each colour is printed separately by hand. Many of our designs are detailed and have many colours, so the artisans we work with are very skilled and patient, making sure the design aligns well. The handmade process gives it a special quality, which you can’t recreate with digital processes. In addition to screen printing we also work with hand-quilting, and hand-weaving. It’s important for us to support artisans and keep crafts alive.
(MM) We’ve seen on your site and Instagram of the custom works using your fabrics. From cushions to bean bags, even the interior of an auto rickshaw! What else have your fabrics been used for?
We sell fabric by the meter, which often gets used for upholstery, curtains and blinds, however one client used a quilt to upholster a bench, which was unusual but it turned out so well! Other clients have framed the tea towels and hung them as artwork, we’ve also seen a shirt made out of a tea towel! We love seeing where our designs end up and really love it when we get sent or tagged in pictures.
(MM): You are based in the UK and Delhi. What do you like about living in Delhi?
Delhi has such great food – it’s what we miss most when we’re in the UK!
(MM) Any special spot, shop or item of Delhi you would recommend to newcomers?
Our favourite restaurants… Coast café (Hauz Khas) Carnatic café (GK1) and places in Pandara road to name a few.
(MM): Please tell us about any new projects or works in progress or updates you would like to share about Safomasi.
We’re currently working on a new website which we’re really excited to launch, hopefully in the next few months. We’re also working on ideas for our next collection, which will come out sometime next year.
(MM) Any special projects or sales for the Diwali Season?
We don’t have anything planned this year because of Covid, but when our new site launches it will have new products including upholstered poufs and a few other surprises!You can purchase Safomasi products online: https://www.safomasi.com/