Inspired by Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay of India and supported strongly by Begum Sufia Kamal, Ruby Ghuznavi and her colleagues revived natural dyes in Bangladesh in the early '80s, after a gap of nearly a hundred years. In-depth research and experimentation with the rich repository of dye plants in this country yielded 30 colour fast dyes which are eco-friendly and non- pollutant. Permanent colours were extracted from flowers, leaves, fruit, peel and sawdust by combining them with mordants. In 1990 Aranya was set up to establish the commercial viability of the dyes. Through decades of intensive research and development, Aranya has extended its colour repertoire and refined production techniques to cut down production costs and give its products a competitive edge in the mainstream market within the country and abroad. Aranya is a well-established fair trade organization and a member of WFTO; it is also one of the earliest members of the World Crafts Council from Bangladesh.
With its outstanding designs and colours, Aranya has created a brand that is instantly recognizable. Apart from block print it uses a range of Asian craft techniques like tie-dye, folding, shading and various styles of Shibori to enrich its collection. Hand-dyed yarn in silk, cotton and other blended yarns are woven and embroidered in traditional saris, ready-wear, fabrics, accessories and a wide range of home textiles. Aranya's special achievement has been its revival of traditional Jamdanis and Kanthas, sourced from national and international museums and private collections.
Over the last two decades, Aranya has built a strong domestic market; its unique colour palette and designs have also attracted export orders from well-known retail stores like Liberty, Conran Shop, Selfridges, Chandni Chowk, Habitat and others in the UK as well as specialized retailers in Germany, France, Italy, Japan and Korea. It has also worked with international fashion houses like Nicole Farhi, Giorgio Armani, Jurgen Lehl and a host of young designers in the UK, Europe and Japan.
In recent years it became quite apparent that Aranya needed to expand substantially and increase its production capacity in order to respond effectively to the growing demand for its products in the domestic and export markets. Thus, in 2011 Aranya was taken over by the Bengal Foundation, a prestigious organization deeply committed to the development and promotion of our country’s rich cultural heritage. For nearly a decade, the Foundation has provided invaluable support to advance the cause of fine arts, performing arts and crafts of Bangladesh, within the country and abroad. The Bengal Foundation is therefore the best organization to take over Aranya and surge forward to a successful future.