to&from is a homeware design company based in London, co-founded in 2016 by interior designer Somya Singh and product designer Bob de Graaf. It offers beautiful, timeless, everyday objects of desire.
to&from works with specialist artisans from around the world on its collections, promoting design traditions and skills through its collaborations.
The company name is significant for two reasons. The ‘from’ denotes the discovery and exploration of things from different cultures, while the ‘to’ stands for sharing of gifts and knowledge between people; values it would like to up hold. to&from can also be taken to mean from me to you, from place to place or from workshop to workshop.
Interior designer Somya Singh graduated from the Glasgow School of Art. Emanating from India, she has international experience working on a diverse range of high-end residential and hotel schemes around the globe. She has worked with universally acclaimed design studios including Studioilse and Anouska Hempel Design and now works with Echlin in London.
Dutch product designer Bob de Graaf graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven/the Netherlands. He has worked for Ilse Crawford/Studioilse on design projects for Ikea/Sweden and Vitra/Switzerland. Living in London he now collaborates on a number of projects with various architects and design studios.
Somya: 'We met three years back through mutual Studioilse friends and soon discovered our mutual love for materials, crafts & culture. So we started to plan ways of bringing together these elements'.
Bob: 'Somya wanted to start the first collection from India, as she wanted to show me the hands on approach to design in India and watch me respond to it.
After looking around for a while, she found the perfect small independent marble maker just outside Jaipur, Mr Jitendre. He was passionate and very excited about the thought of collaborating'.
Somya: 'A few months later we went back to India to spend some time in Rajasthan, to observe people carrying on with their daily rituals, getting inspired by them. What we wanted was to have a first collection that reflected India but with a Dutch simplicity'.
Bob: 'Coming from the Netherlands where less is more, visiting India is an incredibly overwhelming experience, the abundance of colours, floral patterns and shapes that are used everywhere are exciting and exotic, at first a temptation to get into. On a second look, the actual shapes of everyday objects, that have been used and perfected over centuries, are even more exciting.
Somya: 'The dialogue between the makers and us was the best part; seeing how they completely disregarded the proportions we had spent months trying to master; the minute you go to the factory, it was all about paper, rock and scissors'. Cutting out shapes from old newspaper and tracing it onto marble.'
Bob: 'At first this was a bit of a throwback. But the direct way of working proofed to be a very useful and rewarding process, as there is an immediate result to respond to. This made the range into a real dialogue between the designer and maker.