World Environment Day: This 125-year-old Bengaluru company is weaving discarded silk saris and PET bottles into their carpets

What began as a simple idea three years ago, has steadily grown into a permanent feature in their range, changing the fabric of awareness on sustainability within the organisation and their clients 
Hand knotted recycled silk - Royal Kashan
Hand knotted recycled silk - Royal Kashan

Conscious carpets. This was a seed of an idea three years ago, and has since become a part of company tradition for Bengaluru-based Carpet Kingdom. Brothers Ali Akmal Jan (29) and Hamza Akmal (33), fifth generation entrepreneurs in the family business, that is now over a century old, wanted to make a difference by making eco-friendly products part of the norm. Using a spectrum of waste materials ranging from discarded silk saris to PET bottles, sisal, coir, jute and bamboo — their sustainable range now boasts over 150 carpets off the shelf, with their latest collection launched just in time for World Environment Day (June 5). 

What has it been like curating an upcycled range that is not just for Environment Day, but a permanent feature on your offerings list?
Our family has been in the business of carpets for over 100 years. And quite recently, my brother and I, consciously took a decision to add and invest in a range of carpets that are sustainable and eco-friendly. We are bringing in checks and balances within our organisation and its extension to create awareness and the need for everyone to comprehend the ideology in its true spirit. We believe this to be a spiritual journey.  

<em>Hand-knotted recycled silk - Tribal Tune</em>
Hand-knotted recycled silk - Tribal Tune

How many carpets are part of this eco-friendly range?
Currently, about three to four percent of our range and by the end of the year, we hope to increase it to about eight to 10 percent. Making these carpets is not as simple as one may presume.  

What were some of the challenges creating these upcycled carpets?
The biggest limitation and task is the sourcing of raw materials from limited resources. To create a carpet in a particular design, one has to work around the conventional process. Many a time we have to work backwards by first ascertaining the quantity of yarn in each colour and then go back and forth between our design boards and stores to create designs for which these yarns would be sufficient.  

<em>Ali Akmal Jan, partner at Carpet Kingdom</em>
Ali Akmal Jan, partner at Carpet Kingdom

What kind of material has been repurposed to create these carpets? 
We use many types of yarn, ranging from silk from saris and other textiles, leather from the garment industry and tanneries, jute and also put in used pieces of carpets. We use these not just to make carpets but also use the finished left-over carpets as a whole or sometimes patch them together to upholster chairs, stools and poufs to give them a contemporary look and feel. Left-over silk from saris has been used to create some of the most beautiful carpets we have on display right now. The yarns are sourced from factories that use them to make textiles and these factories are located in different parts of the country. 
Are you considering making it possible for people to contribute upcycled materials — making it a 
collaborative process for the customer?

That sounds like a great idea but honestly speaking, we have not gone that far. We are still figuring out how to perfect the recycle and upcycle range and the materials we want to work with. The whole process from ideation to completion goes through numerous trials.  

What is your team of designers working on next?
We will continue working with recycled products, upcycling products, launching a wider eco-friendly range and of course widening the scope of using carpets. Not just on floors or walls but really reimagining the carpet as we know it.  
INR 1,500 to INR 3.5 lakh. Available online.

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