The deafening whir of a hand-held drill keeps drowning Ira Maurya’s voice as we inspect a newly-minted, honey-coloured bookshelf in her workshop. Her partially muted explanation on the benefits of working with pine wood slats used for packaging, versus heavier, traditional materials like sheesham (Indian rose wood), teak or mango wood, needs better audibility. So we settle in at a nearby coffee shop. Here, I fully understand the trajectory of The Second Wind, her design studio that focuses on upcycled and repurposed furniture.
Maurya is one of many upcoming designers in India who are bringing a sustainable dimension to décor for homes and commercial spaces. Brushing the idea as ‘nothing new,’ she insists that upcycling is a longstanding ethos of Indian homes. The inspiration came from her grandmother, who would regularly conjure a new purpose for weathered things around the house. The Second Wind is not alone on the journey. There is a clutch of furniture and décor designers and their patrons, who are firmly holding the baton to adding a unique touch to your home with limited edition upcycled materials and one-of-a-kind, painstakingly sourced pieces that add character to our interiors.
Here’re 5 design brands who are changing the way upcycled, recycled and sustainable home decor is perceived in India.
Raahul Khadaliya, The Second Life | Studio ABCD
Sustainability lies at the core of Bengaluru-based design organisation, Studio ABCD and its sub-brand, The Second Life. Founded by Raahul Khadaliya, the company straddles the design realm of UI/UX, communication, photography, and development. But it’s the lighting solutions that have ignited interest amongst interior decoration enthusiasts of the city. The 2018 collection of handmade pendent lights bear the coveted insignia of sustainability, with materials sourced from discarded paperboards sourced from printing presses. Dingy sheds of waste vendors and printing units are veritable treasure grounds for Raahul and team, who go foraging for materials and morph them into stylish and durable lamps. Visit: www.abcd.co.in
Anu Tandon Vieira, The Retyrement Plan
Translating urban waste such as textile waste ropes and used tyres, The Retyrement Plan gives a unique slant to contemporary home aesthetics. Anu Tandon Vieira keeps an eye out for worn-out tyres and gives them a new lease of life for an added journey in the form of chairs, pouffes, charpais, floor cushions, swings, and more. Not only does Vieira lift the literal and figurative weight of urban waste from cities, she works with skilled urban migrant craftsmen to create a meaningful and sustainable source of income for them. The Retryrement Plan products bear the magical stamp of designs in bright colours, inspired by traditional textiles. Ever since a truck tyre transformed as a seater in phulkari-inspired colours was displayed at the London Design Festival in 2017, one can safely say that the brand is literally going places. Visit: www.facebook.com/TheRetyrementPlan
Bandana Jain, Sylvn Studio
Bandana Jain’s Sylvn Studio works under the tenets of the self-created motto ‘love for art and love for earth.’ Her creations, made out of recycled materials like sturdy corrugated cardboard and burlap, remove any misnomer that recycled materials cannot translate to premium products. Handcrafted pieces like lamps, mirrors, wall art and accents are geared to address the environmental challenges and offer characterful options to homes, offices and restaurants. Jain’s love for art and earth has led her to extend sustainable design solutions to larger projects. One of her finest works can be seen at Pa Pa Ya, a Mumbai-based restaurant, where the undulating ceiling is made entirely out of recycled cardboard. Visit: www.bandanajain.com
Aakriti Kumar, Differniture
Breaking traditional norms of design, Differniture aims to create alternate pieces of furniture for the discretionary 21st century user. Sustainable practices lie at the core of manufacturing and procurement, while design is hinged on sculptural characteristics and functionality. Founder Aakriti Kumar’s focus lies on eclectic designs in reclaimed wood with a minimal waste policy. Non-toxic polishes and finishing material, and salvaged fallen trees are not mere conversation starters but integral to her business. Operating out of Gurugram, many of Kumar’s designs resonate the fluidity of nature with inspiration trickling in from waterfalls and varied landscapes. Visit: www.differniture.com
The spirit of reviving discarded things and giving them a new avatar runs strong at The Second Wind, founded by Ira Maurya and Abhinav Mehta. The upcycling brand is christened after the phenomenon in which exhausted long distance runners find a surge of strength to perform at their best for a short sprint to complete a race. The second chance in this case is reserved for discarded and unusable furniture, and other recyclable materials. Old cribs fashioned into a bookshelves, fresh coats of paint on beer caddies, ornamental doors turned into sofa backs, tyres that are now turned into pouffes, and faulty wooden printing blocks used as table embellishments are common at the workshop. They’ve all gone through the rite of passage – refurbished, upcycled, reimagined or one of its kind furniture pieces that feature in the special section ‘Finders Keepers’