The life of Gajanan Upadhyaya, the man who shaped Indian furniture design
by Shilpa DasNov 02, 2021
•make your fridays matter with a well-read weekend
by Meghna MehtaPublished on : Dec 07, 2020
Five Indian furniture designers collaborated with American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) – in a first-of-its-kind collaboration called ‘REMAKE’ - to recreate their own furniture pieces in American hardwood. The project challenged the designers to select three pieces each from their existing furniture range and remake them using American hardwoods. Prior initiatives by AHEC involve collaborations with the likes of Zaha Hadid, Thomas Heatherwick, David Adjaye , Matteo Thun, Sou Fujimoto, Norman Foster and Paul Smith among others.
The five Indian designers who were a part of the REMAKE are: Bram Woodcrafting Studio, Esvee Atelier, Kam Ce Kam, Studio SFDW, and Studio Wood. The brief asked the designers to remake their existing pieces using American red oak, white oak, cherry, hard maple, tulipwood or hickory where AHEC supplied the lumber to them. Roderick Wiles, AHEC Regional Director, said, “The wealth of legally-harvested and sustainably-managed hardwoods that the United States has to offer is of increasing interest to India’s furniture manufacturers, as they seek to explore new materials, look for long-term alternatives to traditional furniture hardwoods and also widen their appeal to their intended markets, be they in India itself or overseas”.
Here, we explore the designers and their products under the REMAKE collaboration.
Bram Woodcrafting Studio (BWS) was set-up by Bram Rouws, a French carpenter, in 2004 in Bengaluru, India. “When we started BWS we saw scope for design and manufacture of solid wood furniture in the same premises. REMAKE is a good platform to promote our design and awareness for sustainability, and we are also proud to have been selected as one of the five studios by AHEC,” said Rouws.
The three products created by BWS are - Ergos, Ellipse and Ionic.
Ergos, an unconventional piece of furniture, features shaped wood and an upholstered seat. It was designed to provide the right amount of support and comfort while standing or working on a high workstation. Ellipse, initially designed to showcase the potential of a five axis CNC machine, was developed in a way that it can be manufactured on the classical machines. The Ionic chair was inspired by the proportions of Greek and Roman Orders with slight ornamentation in the form of an elaborate backrest. The flutes in the traditional columns were translated into a layered, fluidic backrest that curves into the leg in one motion.
Esvee Atelier was established in 2018 by furniture designer Srikanth Varma in southern Indian city of Hyderabad. “Wood is our mother material and we absolutely love and respect it. We look forward to creating and seeing the stories our designs tell through the chosen materials,” said Varma.
The three products designed by Esvee Atelier are tables with unique concepts - Kaluva, Comet, and Flamingo.
Kaluva is a coffee table with its design inspired by the floating state of lotus leaves, with intricate and beautiful brass inlay depicting the veins of the leaves. And inspired by the mesmerising event of meteor showers is the COMET console table that attempts to make a statement with its cosmic story depicting the meteor radiate in custom handcrafted brass details. Flamingo is a sleek and compact server table design that moves around along with the user and sits by the side to amuse and serve with its humanistic form.
Set up by Jehanara Knowles, Kam Ce Kam is a studio in New Delhi that was established with the passion to use traditional methods to create innovative designs. “When we founded Kam Ce Kam, our aim was to promote Indian craftsmanship in a contemporary way. Through collaborating with AHEC on the REMAKE project, we are introducing a new and exciting material into the collection, which is sustainable, durable and beautiful,” mentioned Knowles.
The three pieces that the studio created for REMAKE are - Mausam desk, Mausam side table and Mera chair.
The Mausam desk combines two strong materials, which have been given a delicate form through the craftsmanship of carefully carving details into the piece. It is a practical desk with a delicate reeded detail and is available with either a timber or a white or black marble top. The Mausam side table in the same series as the desk features a reeded detail and is a versatile piece of design that provides a hint of style and minimalism. Inspired by a traditional cane chair design, the Mera chair is a contemporary version of much-loved classic that we have seen in many forms.
Saif Faisal Design Workshop (SFDW) was set-up by architect Saif Faisal in Bengaluru in 2014. “We have always celebrated natural and humble materials in our work. The consistency and fine quality of beautifully processed woods and our contemporary pieces that will be beautifully crafted,” said Faisal.
The three products designed by SFDW are - the Split Bench, the Night Stand and the Trays.
The Split Bench is a detailed and crafted piece that articulates the wood to achieve lightness and refinement. The flow of the surfaces and slicing expresses the beauty of wood. The Night Stand is a simple yet unique design that has a rechargeable lamp integrated in it. The inconspicuous minimal design humbly fits in any environment. The Trays are a series of pieces that have been CNC milled, and work as trays and server or chopping boards. These simple objects embody the versatility of a contemporary lifestyle and use.
Founded in 2014 by three designers - Navya Aggarwal, Sahej Bhatia and Vrinda Mathur, Studio Wood was established in the Indian capital as a young practice. “From the very beginning of our practice, we have been convinced that wood is an adaptable material and has tons of potential in the art of furniture making. This project has given us a chance to experiment with timbers that aren't easily available, introducing tulipwood and cherry to our material palette,” they said.
The three products designed by Studio Wood are - Drawer Poufs, Ludwig Chair and Sweep Study Table.
Drawer poufs is a part of the studio’s Re-Love collection, where discarded wooden drawers were revived. A simple addition of a foamed seat and wooden pegs and knobs, the function of a drawer was transformed while retaining its identity. The Ludwig Chair is a tri-legged T-back chair was designed to ensure comfort and ergonomics mixed with good design, owing to its straight-lined aesthetic and a hand-woven cane mesh back. The Sweep Study Table is a sturdy piece of furniture that caters to the new-age workaholic with just enough storage, a large table-top and a slanted magnetic board.
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