Pondicherry is a creative playground - with designers, artists and creatives who’ve made the quaint township their home. While many of these creatives are famous in their own right, there are many brands and ateliers based out of Pondicherry, whose work is only known by those who are within the industry.
Ateliers Courtin, a studio founded by French origin designer and creative Cedric Courtin, has resolutely been working with brands of global repute but is less known in India. Located on Auroville main road, this creative studio that creates woven leather and textile elements, has worked with the most iconic brands in the world — from Balenciaga and Loewe to Louis Vuitton and Burberry.
From Brittany to Pondicherry
Hailing from a family of craftspeople in the Northwestern Province of France, Cedric Courtin grew up surrounded by those who were lacemakers, hatters and tailors. His journey to India in 2004 was not just serendipitous but marked by a profound purpose. After completing his Post Graduate Diploma in Luxury Management from the Institut Français de la Mode, he found himself drawn to the rich tapestry of Indian craftsmanship and was invited by a friend to visit the city of Chandigarh.
Inspired by the people and the crafts he was introduced to during his time here, he sought more opportunities to contribute to the community. His chance to make a difference came with the devastating 2004 tsunami, leading him to Chennai to work with a vocational institute for the fishermen community that was affected. What started as a coordination role eventually set him on the path to creating a venture of his own. After a few years, Cedric's passion for craft and luxury craftsmanship inspired him to establish his own workshop in Chennai.
Amid the pandemic, Cedric made a significant move to Pondicherry, drawn to the vibrant creative community and a building that would become the new home for Ateliers Courtin. The serene surroundings provided the ideal backdrop for his work - creating intricate, luxury design objects where French aesthetics meet Indian craftsmanship. Over the years, his dedication to the craft and his commitment to the artisans he work with forged lasting bonds.
His career took him from India to France and back, where he developed a network of like-minded creatives who shared his love for craft and luxury. The connections paved the way for collaborations with renowned designers and creative directors around the world. Today, he shuttles between France and India and works with creatives big and small to create unique luxury pieces. The artisans he has worked with over the years have also stayed with him, even through the move to Pondicherry. Sivagami, one of the artisans at his studio has been with him through the pandemic and the move, and continues to work with him. When asked about what she loves most about her work, she said “Being able to learn new things and experiment with new techniques and materials is the best part of the work that I do. It is a role that I am excited to continue doing.”
Where French Artistry Meets Indian Craftsmanship
One of Cedric Courtin's strengths as a creative lies in his ability to explore and experiment with the same materials in myriad ways. His research and development processes have pushed the boundaries of craftsmanship, resulting in innovative luxury panels that find their way into products such as bags, shoes, and decor pieces. Currently, Studio Courtin is trying to extend its reach and make its bespoke products and services available to those within the nation as well. He hopes to connect with more people who understand the value of the luxe, intricate work that is woven by his studio and to create bespoke pieces for them.
When asked about the impact of India on his approach to work, Cedric reflected on the synergy he has discovered during his time in the country. While he maintains a strong French style in terms of creativity and aesthetics, India's focus on collaboration and the rich history of craft appreciation has deeply influenced him. He highlights the importance of showcasing the sheer diversity of crafts across the nation, emphasizing how techniques and styles can vary significantly even when using the same materials and hopes that more creatives from the nation gets recognised in this regard on a global scale.
While one may come across Cedric Courtin's Atelier and be impressed with the sheer number of renowned brands that they have worked with, what needs to be highlighted is how it has found a place for cultures, ideas, and craftsmanship to intersect. As the global fashion industry increasingly recognizes the significance of Indian craft, Studio Courtin's work stands as a testament to the fusion of research-led innovation in design, highlighting the enduring value of craftsmanship and community that has thrived in the heart of India for generations. Recently, the brand has worked with a Collectible Design Gallery based out of Mumbai to feature leather wrapped objects curated from across India. They also collaborated with Pondicherry based furniture brand 'wood'n design' to create uniquely designed metal chairs with woven details. Through their many collaborative projects, Studio Courtin is celebrating creativity with a Homegrown focus, in their own unique way.
You can follow the brand here.
If you enjoyed reading this, here's more from Homegrown: