Transforming Communities Through Design

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We are excited to feature Maka Maka‘s beautiful custom accessories as part of our latest Paint It Forward partnership.

maka maka bedding designFrom bedding to ceramics, their unique and detailed designs add a vibrant and eye-catching touch to any room. Maka Maka’s commitment to creating beautiful, quality pieces directly with true artisans is what drew us together in our latest search for the perfect partners to create custom sculptures and upholstery.

Saloni, our founder and CEO, and Mitun, Maka Maka’s CEO, offer more insight into why our artwork collaboration is big news!

Saloni, this partnership with Maka Maka reflects many of AFI’s core values. Why was Maka Maka the perfect fit for our upcoming projects?

peace silk pillow

Peace Silk Pillow

Saloni: It’s really refreshing to meet people who know how to gain success from helping others succeed. I really respect the fact that Mitun and Maka Maka are making a difference by supporting the welfare of skilled communities in need. They provide fair pay and cut out middle-man wholesalers who takes unfair advantage of the artisans. Maka Maka also seeks to eliminate animal cruelty (an issue that is very close to my heart) with initiatives like the Peace Silk.

How has this partnership spoken to you personally?

Saloni: I embarked on my current venture strictly because of my passion/expertise in the arts, and I am very keen on representing where I come from by spreading the handmade skilled work from India to the rest of the world. I really want to explore the world of social entrepreneurship and this is a niche that I am very enthusiastic about personally.

Mitun, we love to follow your travel blog. How are your designs influenced by your travels?

Mitun: I am inspired by patterns, colors, interactions, pretty much anything that catches my eyes when I’m traveling. I usually like to take a concept, an image, photo I took, etc. and create an abstraction from it to create the design. There’s usually a story for each design.

For example, the design for the Patagonian Spring pillow came from a rock I had picked up in Grey Glacier in Chilean Patagonia that had these beautiful striations on it.


The Gaudi pillow is based on the tile patterns I saw in Parc Guel in Barcelona.


The Leheria pillow in multicolor is inspired by these set of poles in vibrant colors that I saw in a reclaimed furniture workshop in Jodhpur.



In addition to being inspired by the natural world, how does Maka Maka protect the environment?

Mitun: We try to be as eco-friendly and sustainable as possible. Each time we design a home textile collection, we use the scraps to make patchwork items, such as, one of a kind quilts, tote bags, tea cozies, etc. We also work with artisans who use scrap metal to create their designs. We use only natural materials, such as, peace silk, handwoven linen, khadi cotton, etc. 

patchwork bedding

metal sculpture design


Tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind Maka Maka.

Mitun: Maka Maka means friend in Hawaiian. When I had visited Hawaii a few years back, I had loved the laid back spirit of the place and the melodious language. When the time came for me to open a concept store, I decided to go with Maka Maka, where the essence is to offer the patrons a friendly experience while they shop for their home just to enjoy a great cup of coffee and snacks in a friendly cafe. People should feel like they’ve come to a friend’s place.

table design maka maka


How have your products been influenced by the artisans you work with?

Mitun: I am constantly inspired by the amazing artisans I work with! What I am trying to do is come up with innovative and more contemporary designs leveraging their traditional craftsmanship. This way the product assortment remains relevant to the times and they are commercially viable and not just works of art. For example, we’re developing windchimes, cheese knives, napkin rings, etc. using the ancient craft of Dhokra (lost wax). In textiles, I use ancient embroideries, such as, Sujni to create more contemporary home textile collection by using geometric patterns embroidered in Sujni and not the folk aspect that is usually seen in this art.

artisan embroidery design


artisan design



Maka Maka’s curated craft tours allow people to experience the artisanship at work – describe what happens on a typical tour.

Mitun: Curated Craft Tours is an initiative between Maka Maka and Starline Travels. We have designed curated craft tours for various regions of India, through which you will not only witness the local beauty, uniqueness and hospitality of that region, but get to meet the artisans whose hands or the hands of their ancestors have given life to the fabric of that grandeur. A tour focused on sustainability will take you behind the scenes for a true hands-on experience of the crafts and artisans of the region. Learn the basics of Blue Pottery or how to create your own Indigo block printed scarf or solve the mystery of bronze casting or paint a Pattachitra art or create your own copper bell wind chime! Either Commander Krishnan (Krish), President of Starline Travels, or I will be the tour guides on these custom designed and curated craft tours so the guests enjoy a great experience with personal attention.

artisans 2

ceramic artisan painted

teapots artisan painted


How do you see Maka Maka’s appreciation for and partnership with the artisanal process impacting the larger design world?

Mitun: I believe that it’s high time we took stock of what consumerism means and how it has impacted our lives and the environment. By offering the world market consciously produced products, be that in home or fashion, we hope to shift the balance to sustainable solutions in products and processes. The more we bring the stories of the artisans, their crafts, and how we are trying to create a more collaborative endeavor to support sustainability and revive dying crafts, the more we hope people and the larger design world will adopt similar practices or incorporate the same philosophy in their design processes.

We are very excited to be partnering on several new projects, including a public space sculpture from Maka Maka. Check back soon for updates on how our artwork is transforming communities and supporting artisans.