Jaipur, India

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 April, 2007, 12:00am

Design-savvy travellers who want to buy into Jaipur's timeless taste need not drape their home in ethnic tat. Extraordinary antiques and unique modern homewares can be found all over this town.

AFKD (below; B-6/A-1 Prithviraj Road, C-Scheme, tel: 91 141 236 4863), Jaipur's first true interiors shop, sells wire coffee tables (US$133) woven by artisans who used to make bird cages, groovy pillowcases threaded with recycled plastic strips (US$15) and modern stacking bowls (US$55 for a set of three) made with Rohida wood, traditionally used by Jain priests. Founded by an industrial designer and his architect wife, this basement boutique should top any Jaipur design tour.

Blue pottery, a Turko-Persian artform, fills the red house of Neeja International (S-19 Bhawani Singh Road, C-Scheme, tel: 91 141 222 3511; www.neerjainternational.

com). High-quality plates (from US$2) line the shop's walls and hand-painted tiles and drawer knobs (25 US cents to US$1) make it easy to introduce a hint of India to any interior. Colour lovers should also visit Saroj (A-2 Tilak Marg, Nandanam Apartments, C-Scheme, tel: 91 141 511 0927). Collectors flock here for late-19th-century Ravi Varma prints (from US$35) depicting Indian life. Antique maps (from US$50) and vintage advertisements (from US$35) also line the walls.

Collectors and curators agree that the affable Subhash Sharma at Rajasthan Fabrics & Arts (Laxman Dwara, City Palace, tel: 91 141 260 1432) is the man to know in Jaipur when seeking antique textiles and traditional clothing. His well-stocked shop is a virtual South Asian tour: handspun fabric from Peshawar (from US$600), Gujarati knotted tie-dye (from US$500) and Rajput finery (from US$2,500). Modern updates at more modest prices can be found at Satayam (Laxman Dwara, City Palace, tel: 91 141 260 1432), his son's chic address next door.

A saffron-hued gate leads to Ambika Exports (Naila House, Moti Doongri Road, tel: 91 141 261 5059), a cavernous warehouse piled with yarn in every shade, waiting to be woven. Hand-knotted rugs were traditionally made in Indian villages as 'dowry dhurries', before the craft was commercialised by the British and woven by prisoners. These days, wool or cotton carpets can be custom designed and made to order in about 90 days by non-child labour (from US$2.50 a square foot).

Housed in a residence in the shadow of Amer Fort, the Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing (Anokhi Haveli, Kheri Gate, tel: 91 141 253 0226; anokhi.com) celebrates Rajasthan's block-printing heritage. Three floors of galleries take visitors through the history of this colourful craft from the 18th century, highlighting regional stylistic variations, such as Sanganer's red and black flowers or the masculine indigo prints of Bagru.