6 Ways to Incorporate South Asian Elements into your Home

By Mitesh Trambadia

There is something about the traditional arts of the Indian subcontinent that has always fascinated me. Although I come from parents who were born and raised in India, I myself have never lived there. And perhaps that is why I am drawn to these hand-crafted objects as they offer a connection to my roots. From the textiles to bronze sculptures to Pichhwai paintings I have loved it all and knew when it came to my own home, I wanted to have these elements of South Asia incorporated into my design. My overall design aesthetic has always been contemporary, and I certainly did not want to go overboard and make my home look like an antique shop. It was all about carefully incorporating into my home select pieces that spoke to me and I feel I was able to create a successful balance. I wanted to share a few ways that you can also bring a touch of South Asia into your modern, contemporary home.

Accent Furniture

While I believe your larger pieces of furniture should be more neutral in tone with clean lines it’s the accent pieces that can allow you to really personalize the space. I have found that coffee tables, console tables, accent chairs, and benches are great ways to incorporate something from South Asia. I have used everything from a traditional charpoy bench to a Rajasthani bone inlay coffee table in my home. It can blend in well with your other contemporary furniture and be just the right touch without feeling overboard.

A charpoy inspired bench or carved wooden side table
bring in a touch of South Asia


There is no denying that the Indian subcontinent dominates when it comes to its textiles. From block printed cotton to silk handlooms the variety is vast. I have found that this is the easiest way to incorporate a South Asian element into a modern space. Fabrics can be displayed in a variety of ways from their use in cushions, throws, and bedding. Examples include Kantha or gota embroidered cushions, Kashmiri throws, and Jaipuri block printed bedding. A woven table runner or placemats can also be another simple way to include various textiles. These pieces can instantly add color and texture to a space. Fabrics also allow flexibility as you can select colors and tones that compliment and coordinate with the palette of the room.

Jaipur block printed bedding

Jaipur block printed placemats to bring in pattern to a table setting

Gallery Frames

A gallery of simple frames on your wall can instantly make your space feel modern.  The obvious would be to frame traditional artwork in contemporary frames but the options are endless. Framing swatches of fabrics and embroideries would make a great display. This can be something you may already have such as that old dupatta or printed scarf. Even mixing that up with wooden printing blocks, brassware, or even traditional jewelry in shadow box frames can add an extra dimension while presenting the objects in a fresh way. A gallery of photographs highlighting South Asia would be another way to create a modern themed display.

Framed wooden printing blocks in shadow box frames A gallery of frames housing traditional Indian fabric motifs

Metal accent pieces

South Asia has a long history of metalwork from majestic bronzes to intricate silver filigree work. I have been displaying various metal objects and antiques even before mixing metals became a trend. A traditional Indian brass bell or silver etched box can not only be easily displayed together but would work well with more contemporary accent pieces such as a modern brass planter. These objects would look great on a coffee table, console table, floating shelves or a bookshelf. Repurposing traditional metal vessels as planters is also great and would allow you to bring greens into a space as well.

Contemporary console tables with clean lines serve as spaces to add traditional metallic accents


Some of the greatest rug weaving is done in South Asia. Varieties include thinner dhurries to thicker wool pile rugs to woven chindi. The patterns can range from the very traditional to the more abstract. Rugs are an easy way to bring in not only pattern but color as well and using a transitional design can bring in a touch of the traditional that works in a contemporary space.

A traditional dhurrie rug in a contemporary pattern

Smaller rugs in more traditional patterns add texture and color while keeping the space feeling contemporary


Contemporary Art

While South Asia has a long history of traditional and folk arts, there is a lot of contemporary art being produced by talented artists that incorporate South Asian themes. This can range from large canvas paintings to prints. But it is not limited to just wall art. Even cushions featuring pop art or a painted tea kettle celebrating chai culture can bring in some while clearly being rooted in South Asia.The arts of South Asia are vast and are worthy of display and admiration.


A Contemporary painting with an Indian theme

A cushion with South Asian themed pop-art in the modern space


I hope a few of these ideas inspire you to incorporate such elements into your own home.

Follow Mitesh on Instagram @desimeetsdesign for more tips and inspiration.

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