Good Businesses 2014

Romancing the wood

Varnam is reinventing Channapatna’s lacquerware to keep the craft contemporary

Photographs by RA Chandroo

Overhead speakers belt out Kannada film songs loudly and enthusiastically, almost drowning out the cheerful conversation and quiet hum of power lathes. A large, sparse room carpeted in wood shavings, piles of small blocks of wood lying haphazardly all over, several windows letting in air and the bright afternoon sunlight and a bunch of young women wearing dark cotton uniform jackets over their colourful clothes — it’s not quite the bustling industrial scene one imagined. This is a cottage enterprise. Quite literally.