ISSUE 13  |  India Song

Vintage Revival: Kitchen Essentials Made in India

April 01, 2014 11:00 AM

BY Margot Guralnick

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What’s more riveting than the love letters of famous writers over the centuries? From tabletop company Sir/Madam, mash notes replicated on cloth napkins–plus other made-in-India household basics that strike a chord. 

Above: On August 25, 1819, Lord Byron sent this missive to Teresa, Contessa Guiccioli: “I feel I exist here, and I feel I shall exist hereafter–to what purpose you shall decide; my destiny rests with you, and you are a woman, eighteen years of age, and two out of a convent.” Nearly two centuries later, Byron’s outpouring is part of a collection of 12 love letters immortalized on napkins by Sir/Madam, a New York design company that’s a division of Aesthetic Movement.

Set your table with these designs and you’ll always have good company. Here’s Virginia Woolf to Vita Sackville-West: “Look here Vita, throw over your man, and we’ll go to Hampton Court and dine on the river together and walk in the garden in the moonlight and come home late and have a bottle of wine and get tipsy, and I’ll tell you all the things I have in my head.” 

Above: The letters have been transcribed in a vintage typewriter font and are hand-screened in Karnataka, India, on a cotton-voile that evokes onion skin paper. Emily Dickinson, D.H. Lawrence, Charlotte Bronte, and Oscar Wilde all put in appearances. 

Sir/Madam has also assembled a collection of letters of advice (shown here, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wisdom to his daughter, Scottie, at camp: “Things to worry about: Worry about courage. Worry about Cleanliness. Worry about efficiency. Worry about horsemanship… Things not to worry about: Don’t worry about popular opinion. Don’t worry about dolls. Don’t worry about the past. Don’t worry about the future. Don’t worry about growing up.”)

Above: Sir Madam packages the napkins in yellow envelopes that tie closed with red string. The napkins measure 14 by 16 inches, and are sold in sets of four: there are three “editions” of Love Letter Napkins, one of Advice Letter Napkins (shown here), and one of Shakespeare Sonnet Napkins. All are available for $50 per set of four from The Paris Market in Savannah, GA. 

Above: Sir/Madam offers a colorful collection of what it calls Found Cotton Cloths–multi-purpose, all-cotton towels from India in a range of stripes and plaids. They can be used as napkins, dish towels, or cleaning cloths, and are sold in sets of four. Anthropologie will be carrying them soon; contact Sir/Madam for a list of other retailers.

Above: Sir/Madam is about to begin offering beechwood spoons hand carved by a workshop in Karnataka, India, that funds a school for girls. The designs are replicas of vintage mixing spoons collected by Sir/Madam’s owners at flea markets and yard sales. 

Above: The spoons come packaged in muslin sacks; each holds a baker’s dozen, no two designs exactly alike.

Above: The spoons will be available in stores across the country starting in late April; they’ll be sold individually and in sets of 13–$140 for the large collection; $90 for the small. See Sir/Madam for a list of shops that carry them.

Above: Sir/Madam’s aprons are made of solid linen or herringbone-pattened linen-cotton and are unisex. 

Above: The aprons come in two sizes: Grand (shown above) is 41 inches long; Workers is a waist apron.

Above: The aprons have pockets and adjustable neck loops; contact Sir/Madam for a list of vendors. Intrigued by Sir/Madam’s vintage revival designs? See more in our posts: Kitchen Icons and Now Serving: Perfected Tableware from the Past.

DIY Black Walnut Tie-Dyed Napkins? Yes, you can learn how–go to Erin’s post on Gardenista.