The Wicker Story founded by Priyanka Narula works with traditional craftsmen on making unique products made of cane.
Priyanka Narula stumbled into studying architecture while trying to avoid engineering. She then discovered how much she loved designing and customizing the designs according to the requirements of people. That is how she came into opening The Wicker Story – a furniture design studio that works with Cane. The Wicker story creates unique and contemporary designs in cane using the traditional weaving methods.
“Cane seamlessly blends in and enhances the interiors of any kind of space. Cane furniture has a rather unique way of blending into any space that it is placed in,” says Priyanka in an interview with The Better India. “It is one material that I feel will never go out of style. So much can be done with it,” adds Priyanka. The 100 percent sustainable products that offer a zero-waste production methodology have also found takers in London.
Priyanka did experiment with a few production methods before settling on the traditional method of weaving. “In fact, it was merging technology with the age-old practices and skill that our craftsmen have that led to the first product being launched – IMLI (a bench shaped like a tamarind pod),” she says.
Speaking about the product, Priyanka says, “The inspiration for IMLI comes from all things that evoke nostalgia. The fruit reminds us of mom’s food and the cane chairs we grew up around. The intent was to make a fluid, soft furniture piece that is both artistic and functional at the same time. The technique of cane weaving used for making the bench is traditional to most parts of India. The aim was to adapt the local technique to designs that were complex and new from global market standards. Our methodology gives us an opportunity to create a seamless design with zero material wastage. The surface is further finished in Linseed oil.”
Since most of the products are customized by Priyanka herself, the products could be slotted as expensive. IMLI for instance costs Rs 42,000. The rest of their pieces cost anything upwards of Rs 18,000. “We are not mass producing and every piece that we produce is different and unique. It is a slow and skilled process, which requires the input of senior weavers,” she adds.
Before they started, Priyanka was not sure how the Indian market would receive products made from cane. But in 2019, one of their furniture products won an award at the ELLE DECO International Design Awards (EDIDA), India and subsequently, they bagged the Trends Design awards in 2020 and the Lexus Design awards in 2022 as well. The awards gave Priyanka the motivation to continue on the same path. Today the brand employs more than 25 people.
Having worked with over 100 clients so far, Priyanka says that their products have a pan-India reach while they plan to supply their products to a global audience.