Behind The Design | September 1, 2018
From Sketch to Finish: Meet the Divya Handcrafted Cabinet
At Arhaus, we believe in telling the stories of our artisans and the history behind our designs—to honor the work that goes into every collection and bring that history into your home. With that in mind, we are proud to introduce one of our newest Arhaus favorites …
In collaboration with the finest bone-inlay artisans in the world, from the remote city of Udaipur, India, the handcrafted Divya cabinet is over 2 years in the making. Inspired by traditional craftsmanship and natural beauty, this piece puts generations of culture at the forefront of contemporary design.
We spoke to the Product Designer, Arhaus’ own Douglas Davis, to get the full story of how this stunning cabinet came to grace Arhaus stores this season.
our inspiration – jasmine and bone
Complemented by a modern, solid oak frame hand-painted in chic, distressed greys, the Divya cabinet features three cabinet doors inlaid with an intricate mosaic of elegant jasmine vines.
Image Source: Cleveland Botanical Gardens
“I wanted to honor the floral aspects of Indian culture,” Davis says. “Jasmine is pervasive there. When you go, you’re welcomed with fresh garlands … The aroma is everywhere. Plus, floral patterns are very on-trend right now. When drawing the vine-work for Divya, I focused on a client that might not wallpaper a wall, but might want the same look.”
The bone used in the Divya cabinets is humanely sourced from naturally deceased water buffalo, which roam the streets and countryside of India. Arhaus’ artisan partners—who are non-violent and strict vegetarians—select shape, polish, and place each inlay by hand onto cabinet doors—a process that takes about ten days to complete per door.
“Divya is all about how we use bone inlay differently,” explains Davis. “It’s very on-trend and there’s a rich tradition of bone inlay in India. You see it everywhere from smaller pieces to the interiors of buildings—walls and ceilings covered with ornate patterns.”
breaking tradition with contemporary design
Before creating this truly unique piece, Arhaus felt it was important to understand the rules of traditional bone-inlay design. Our designers traveled to the artisans’ workshop in Udaipur, India to learn how traditional bone inlay was crafted. “We knew the only way was to roll up our sleeves,” Davis tells us.
Traditional Indian bone inlay is intricate and graphic with dense, symmetrical mosaics. Each piece is kept roughly the same size and shape with straight, precisely ground edges. “A good bone-inlay craftsman prides themselves on uniformity,” says Davis.
But, to craft a cabinet that fit more modern spaces, Douglas wanted a fresh approach. “I’ve always been successful doing the opposite of what’s expected,” Davis says. “So, that’s what we did.”
Basing his work on his own plants and his love for bonsai, Douglas hand-drew each vine and leaf displayed on the Divya cabinet’s doors—graceful curves and bends in branches reflecting Davis’s plants.
Instead of designing a symmetrical pattern, the Divya cabinet features a flowing, asymmetrical motif with gracefully curving edges that were painstakingly perfected with the help of our artisan partners. Instead of a flat, two-dimensional surface, overlapping shapes were used to create depth. Instead of a dense motif, Divya’s negative space was celebrated by creating texture and color variation—making the grey resin a featured part of the design.
“We decided not to focus on traditional uniformity but to celebrate the organic un-uniformity of each shape. We wanted to show beauty in imperfections—in doing so, we created something that you don’t see anywhere else,” says Davis. “It’s very Arhaus in that regard.”
designed for your aesthetic
With its chic juxtaposition of traditional craftsmanship against a subtle, minimalist silhouette and organic details, Divya is surprisingly versatile. Hand-painted in a modern, neutral palette complemented by a hand-distressed finish, the Divya cabinet easily transitions from classic to more contemporary aesthetics, while adding an intriguing focal point to any space.
“I always ask ‘What do you want to be?’ and ‘Who wants you?’” Davis says. “So, when I first saw Divya, I thought about my family, ‘Could I see this in my mom’s or sister’s house?’ My mom, who lives by the water and has a very traditional style with coastal colors, loved it. And, my sister, who is much more dynamic would really love it because it’s funky and unique.”
When we asked Douglas to pair Divya with some of our other Arhaus collections, he said, “I don’t see an upholstered piece this would not look great with. Even a lot of our dining tables would look really fantastic.”