LEL Inlay Craft: From Peshawar to Italy and Beyond

ESTA Close Out Event
Creative Director Meherunnisa Asad with some of the talented artisans of LEL Inlay Craft

Trained in stained glass techniques, LEL Inlay Craft founder Farhana Asad has been working in the visual arts since the late 1980’s. Farhana established LEL (Persian for “mountain”) after finding a pietra dura (Italian for “hard stone”) box in a shop in Peshawar, Pakistan. The art of pietra dura, an approach rooted in 16th century Florence (where it later spread across Europe and into Russia, Afghanistan and Pakistan), has become the base of LEL’s fusion of contemporary and traditional handcrafting techniques.

LEL works with Afghan artisans who came to Pakistan following a conflict between the Soviet Union and Afghanistan. With a focus on skill and technique, these artisans work under a traineeship model, starting as an apprentice for a year and completing their training after their second year. The influence of classic motifs and traditional Islamic, Turkish and Florentine art are highlighted in LEL’s home décor and furniture items such as tables, lamps, candle stands, tabletops, bookends and coasters as well as jewelry crafted from onyx, jasper, lapis lazuli and jade, among other semi-precious stones.


Iznik Filigree tabletop (material: lapis lazuli & marble w/ silver cloisonné)

Farhana’s daughter, Meherunnisa Asad, assists her as Creative Director of LEL. A graduate of the Pratt Institute Graduate School of Digital Arts, Meherunnisa represented LEL at the 2013 Market Readiness Program™ and in 2014, LEL made its first appearance with Aid to Artisans at the NY NOW™ Gift Show. LEL Inlay has also appeared in shows in the United Arab Emirates and most recently, LEL showcased its contemporary, luxury line Stone Soup in collaboration with Phoebe Henleigh Designs at the world’s largest and most important Stone Expo, Marmomacc in Verona, Italy in September of 2014.

As LEL has further expanded with Stone Soup, Meherunnisa Asad has exclusively designed, developed and produced a fresh new and visually forward collection, of beautifully handcrafted, raw and polished textured contemporary collection of bowls, spheres, free form sculptures and statement cube forms, this collection has been gorgeously crafted in pure Lapis.


Magnolia decoratives (material: onyx, marble, turquoise, agate)

In the continuation of expanding the LEL vision with Stone Soup, Meherunnisa has brought on board the direction of design. Her last collaborative collection presents itself in collaboration with Dondrill Glover, CEO and Creative Director of emerging lifestyle luxury brand Phoebe Henleigh. In this collection, LEL has worked exclusively in the design medium of Lapis with an incredibly luxurious polished copper overlay, with influences and form interpretations inspired by art of Mediterranean, South African, Scandinavian, Japanese design elements.

This fusion of design influences is a testament to the boundless course that LEL has taken in a successful effort to create beauty from stone.