Artist: Sultana Ahmed
By Fatima S.Khan
to Sultana Ahmed, a designer of soft home goods
based in Karachi, “My inspiration is the beautiful
things I am surrounded with”. Her exotic hand
embroidered tapestries, cushions, table covers and
plethora of decorative pieces are a feast for the
Sultana goes out on a limb to surround herself with
exotic, antiquated, ornate and luxurious silks,
and velvets and through a painstaking process of
selection of drawings, fabrics, threads and embroidery
the outcome is a timeless artwork.
She is a purveyor of some of the finest embroideries
in the region; she artfully blends and overlaps
Eastern and Western, antiquated and modern, the
Mughal with Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo and Louis
XV. Each piece is unique for present-day lifestyle,
whether eclectic, modern or glamorous.
Zhandra Rhode,s an English Fashion designer fascinated
by Sultana’s innovative choices of finest
hand embroidery and rich textiles, worked with her
during 1990s on several of her collections. After
some years, Sultana decided to make a transition
into soft home goods.
The luxurious fabrics consisting of velvets, silks
and jamevars, provide visual and tactile comfort.
The tapestries are one of a kind enriched with dull
embroidery with deep colored stones and dull gold
threads. The gold threads, especially dyed to retain
an antiquated stain finish, are then used with selective
semi precious stones indigenous to the regions of
She works with several color palettes; however,
they can easily be distinguished into two groups,
autumnal color, with richer color tones such as
cranberry and chocolate brown, for summer more of
a pastel palette of peaches and creams.
The initial concepts are renderings, which show
artfulness and appreciation for classicism, than
illustrated in some of its more stylized patterns
of motifs by some of the finest artisans.
Once the drawing selection takes place, the process
continues with further selection of jewel-toned
fabrics, perfectly dyed and than the more tedious
hand embroidery with the exotic semi precious stones
and antiquated gold threads. Experienced artisans
work on it for days, where each piece appears as
if handed down since generations. According to Sultana,
“It is all in the detail”. She thrives
on the completion of each piece of artwork.
Most of Sultana’s artisans have been working
for her for more than a decade. Her Karkhana in
the outskirts of Karachi, houses thirty - sixty
artisans, each one excels in his field. Being an
employer, she goes an extra length to provide benefits
for her employees like paying for schooling and
healthcare for employees’ children. Schooling
is paid for up to a certain grade for each child.
In addition, an employment opportunity for protégé
taken into consideration, as the artisan in eastern
culture passes down the fine techniques from generation
Some of Sultana’s
illustrious clients are from the Royal Saudi family
who became her devout customers, furnishing their
homes with drapery panels, valances, calligraphy
on tapestry, dining chair upholstery, table covers
Within the last decade, her business expanded to
various parts of the Middle East, Europe and the
She is a successful Pakistani businessperson and
mother of two daughters who are equally talented
and successful, Nadia Kassam the older one who is
a famous shoe designer and Aleezah Ahmed who makes
trendy kurtas and tops embroidered with jewels,
Sultana is gracious and thankful for all her blessings.