Obeetee: Preserving India’s Legacy of Carpet Craft and Empowering Rural Artisans since 1920
Think about Obeetee and you will be transported to a vast terrain of rugs and carpets. What started as Oakley, Bowden & Taylorin 1920, just after the First World War, in Mirzapur, India,transformed into a leading global brand today under the banner of Obeetee. Mirzapur eventually became the heart of rug-making in India. The founders initially acquired an old Indigo bungalow and started making carpets for grand old homes.
The tradition of rugs was cosmopolitan from the first knot. Unlike Tabriz, Kashmir, Bikaner or Anatolia – Obeetee rugs have always communicated diverse artistic traditions, weaving methods and switched between materials such as wool, silk, cotton and even sisal or hemp.
Ethical craftsmanship, innovative design and traditional processes give Obeetee the distinction of being the oldest, largest and most reputable exporter of handmade Indian rugs. The group’s ethos is defined by our century-old legacy and our commitment to social entrepreneurship. The brand will turn 100 years old in 2020.
Talking about the success of Obeetee as a brand, Mr. Rudra Chhaterjee, Chairman, Obeetee said, “There are three major factors that make OBEETEE a successful brand in the global market- the aspect related to preservation of ancient craft, creating a vocation and a sustainable livelihood for thousands of people in the villages of UP, and respecting and extending fashion in a way that is both indigenous and cutting edge. Marrying these themes into a living organization is the greatest achievement of Obeetee.”
Obeetee has won several awards, the latest being The No.1 BRAND award in the best carpet manufacturing company category. The brand has also been felicitated by CM Yogi Adityanath for first prize for “U.P. State Export Award”. The brand has also won other reputed awards by CIDBI, Federation of Indian Exports Organisation amongst others.
Obeetee creates hand tufted and hand knotted carpets in a wide range. With a pool of the best designers, Obeetee creates classic designs which are then hand woven, hand tufted by skilled weavers. Obeetee also launched a series, Proud to be India, where they have tied up with designers like Tarun Tahiliani and Abraham & Thakore to create a special line of designs inspired by India.
The Rashtrapati Bhavan is home to two majestic OBEETEE rugs, the largest measuring 452 sq mt and containing billions of intricate knots. Our consumers and our weaving community lie at the heart of everything we do.
OBEETEE carpets are renowned in the world over for their distinctive designs and impeccable quality. Our carpets blend traditional carpet-making skills with modern computer techniques to create handwoven masterpieces that are Persian in genesis, Indian in essence and international in appeal. The exquisite carpets made by OBEETEE have as many as 400 knots per square inch. So a 9×12 foot carpet comes to you with nearly six and a half million knots!
Apart from India, Obeetee is one of the largest exporters of handmade rugs from India to markets like USA, UK, Europe, to name a few.
“Our carpets blend traditional carpet-making skills with modern computer techniques to create masterpieces that are Persian in genesis, Indian in essence and international in appeal,” says Mr. Rudra Chhaterjee.
“When you buy an OBEETEE rug, you support the lifestyle of those who create them. We pay higher wages and insist on favourable working conditions of our artisans. We use safe dyes and chemicals and are the first in the industry to set up water treatment plants and air pollution control systems. We have invested deeply and are committed to supporting children’s education and have a zero-tolerance for child labour,” says an Obeetee spokesperson.
OBEETEE focuses on a very robust work culture. Their power systems run on gas derived from biomass and the water used in dyeing is recycled. Obeetee also hosts a special program for the women; a training programme on rug weaving, to empower women and give them a viable, long-term employment opportunity. Obeeteesupport children’s education. They also ensure that the minimum age for employment at the brand is 16, a policy that is strictly enforced.
In 2015, OBEETEE partnered with Sulabh International to build 125 toilets in the village. Some of the toilets have been constructed in the homes of elderly women, some in the school, and some in the home of individual villagers. Obeetee believes access to clean water and sanitation is not only about hygiene and disease prevention, but about dignity too.
OBEETEE’s unique onsite effluent treatment and waste water recycling facility makes it a one-of-its kind success story.
For over 30 years, OBEETEE has been ensuring that water used in its manufacturing facility is treated to the highest standards before disposal. In 2007, the carpet giant invested INR 10 million to build a physiochemical-biological water treatment plant inside its manufacturing facility in Mirzapur, in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, to ensure a more efficient treatment of effluent.
The brand has introduced ‘OBEETEE Express’ – a program that helps the customer to customize their rugs as per their choice. The customers can choose from hundreds of designs available on their website or can submit their own design as well. Each design can be recoloured using the OBEETEE color bank (200 stocked colors in 100% New Zealand Wool) and resized as per their specifications.
One can visualize the custom rug as per the many room settings on the website. All these designing can be done in minimum of duration – 2 weeks lead time for strike –offs after rendering approval and 6-8 weeks production time for most sizes.
Being first carpet brand to collaborate with Indian designers– Obeetee started a new concept, Proud to be Indian series, to integrate Indian design elements into rug making. As far asthe rug category is concerned, there was little or no presence of Indian art in this domain.
In fact, Indian art was perceived to be hiding in the shadows of Indo-China, Indo Persian or Indo-Nepal for that matter. There was a need to break out of the shackles of colonization and create something uniquely Indian. With this initiative, we wanted to promote contemporary India, its growing aspirations and its unique design sensibilities, by creating an exhibition of modern carpets, as conceived by the Sub Continent’s most talented fashion designers.
Obeetee’s vision to introduce the incredible Indian craft to the rest of the world saw coming together of India’s leading designers to display high end couture rug pieces that have never been woven before. The first of the series was designed by couture king Tarun Tahiliani and thereafter was designed by Abraham & Thakore. This will be followed by several notable designers designing for this series each year.
Talking about the future, Mr. Rudra Chhaterjee winds up, “We have started recognizing that sustainability begins with sourcing holistic craft that is preserved – Obeetee is a part of this movement. It will be at the confluence of creating good work for artisans, involving the most cutting edge designers and working with the global, socially aware consumer.”