How an Ancient Clay Water-bottle became a Contemporary Lamp

Tubular Surahi Lamp is inspired by the ancient pottery of India and in particular, vessels of water — the (surahi), which in this case were carried by men during the hunt. They would carry them on their shoulder to keep both hands free for hunting. Even though, there is no word for design in any Indian language, we believe this object, the surahi or water-ewer (of which there are numerous kinds) are objects of high indigenous design, made by the anonymous artisan-designer and evolved and refined through thousands of years of practical use. Surahis differ in material, shape, size and even the contents they hold. The earthern everyday surahis were used for storing and drinking water while the "richer" cousins made of brass or even silver were used to serve rose water or liquor to the royalty.

We have taken this ancient form and transformed it into an elegant container of light — which can be both hung or as used as a table lamp. While this lamp uses LED and other hi-tech materials, we have stayed true to the original method of manufacture — which is still made by hand by a potter who uses reduction firing at high temperature to make the product strong, durable and sleek. The handmade quality means that no two pieces will be identical.

It has been a joyous but painstaking experience to evolve this product over the last couple of years. The challenge to take a terracotta vessel used to store water and figure out how to make it into a lamp and create something that's not only timeless, universal but still rooted in the Indian craft ethos.

This product has been a part of two lighting shows — Luminance by Apparao Gallery at The Lodhi (2016), and Crafting Design for Living Spaces by the Delhi Craft Council at India Habitat Centre (2018).

At Ishan Khosla Design LLP, we believe in the richness and skill of the Indian craftspersons. We also try our best to help support as many crafts from various parts of the country. We have worked with craftspeople in Terracotta Pottery, Block Making and Printing (Delhi and Rajasthan), Molela and Kaavad (Rajasthan), Black Pottery (Manipur), Dhebaria Rabari, Kachchhi Rabari and Pakko Embroidery (Gujarat), Tal-patra chittra (Odisha), Chittara (Karnataka), Godna tattoo tribal art (Chttattisgarh), Sanjhi (UP), Mithila (Bihar), Gond (Madhya Pradesh) among others.

Team: Artisan: Vinod Prajapati | Concept and Design: Ishan Khosla | Technical Expertise: Shirley Bhatnagar