New Delhi: Every home is different, but not necessarily every house. In identical metal and concrete apartment blocks, with similar sized rooms and windows, a lot depends on the decor to bring in a touch of individuality. Filling homes with the same kind of furniture from online stores, or local markets, may further give them the appearance of sameness.
A bunch of bespoke — or custom-made — furniture brands in the national capital region are bringing in that much-needed individuality to Indian homes with a range of innovative designs and unique pieces. Many of them import their raw materials from abroad, and each has a distinctive style and company policy to ensure that their pieces stand out.
For Kayu Inspirations — a high-end luxury brand with a warehouse in Gurugram — this individuality is born out of respect for the wood from which they craft their products.
“Wood is a living creature,” says Kayu Inspirations co-founder Ritu Vij. “It changes shape according to weather, it adapts according to climate to survive the best. The people who appreciate this key thing about wood are our customers,” she tells ThePrint.
Vij founded the brand with Monica Echavarria Modak in 2013. The two handpick all their wood from Indonesia, making trips once a year to stock up on their collection.
The shape and raw colour of the wood is respected and left untouched, says Vij. Each design is done within the limits set by the piece of wood they pick. This is the reason every piece of furniture they make is unique, no two tables or chairs would look the same.
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Furniture with a difference
Aakriti Kumar, 32, launched Differeniture — another Delhi-based bespoke furniture brand — in 2015. A sustainable brand, Kumar makes designs out of scraps.
“I repurpose old, discarded wood and scraps from cardboard and other materials for my furniture,” she says.
Kumar repurposes furniture from shipping containers, automotive parts, floor boards, structural beams, among other things. Her pick of raw materials may strike many as restrictive, but, according to her, “it’s been an interesting experience to work with restrictions, and working to embrace them instead of hiding them”.
At the other end of the bespoke furniture spectrum is Attrattiva, a brand that only works with wood imported from Italy, and also offers furniture pieces imported from there. Other raw materials used by them are also imported from Italy or other European countries.
The company — the brand name means “attractive” in Italian — comprises a team of 40 people headed by Sachin Aggarwal, the proprietor.
“We don’t even use nails in our furniture. We use screws and bolts that are imported from abroad. Even veneers, paints and polish are all imported,” he says.
Attrattiva offers furniture, home decor, bars and even interior design services for their clients. In their studio in New Friends Colony Delhi, which Aggarwal calls a living room-cum-studio, are displayed breathtaking pieces of furniture — a centretable made of bull horns, a wall hanging with intricate strokes, a pool table that doubles up as a dining table and a home theatre.
To ensure an Italian experience for their Indian clients, the brand has “even sterilised its factory to replicate Italy’s dust-free environment”.
“I travel to Italy a lot, and I saw there that the wood has a different finish than Indian furnishings because it’s a dust-free environment. So, at my factory in Ghaziabad, we’ve ensured that it’s a sterilised environment, without any dust. You won’t see any carpenter wear a mask there,” says Aggarwal.
A niche market
Of course such beauty, perfection and distinction comes at a price. While Kayu’s furniture starts at Rs 1 lakh for a coffee table, Differeniture pieces are priced in the range of Rs 50,000-60,000.
This makes the market for such pieces “niche”, a word used by all three brands, although none of them gave an estimate of sales.
As Kumar explains, there’s greater demand for exclusively decorated homes — a complete look, rather than isolated pieces of furniture. Which is why, like Attrattiva, she’s also working on doing up entire houses, based on customers’ requirements, including making bespoke furniture for them.
The demand for bespoke furniture is higher in tier-2 towns and holiday destinations, she says. “In Goa and hill towns, people want to lavishly do the interiors of their house for the simple reason there’s also more space to really showcase each and every piece of furniture they buy. This is not so in cities. I have also decorated a cabin in Himachal Pradesh and a holiday home in the hills,” she adds.
Those who have experienced furniture made by any of these brands once — and revelled in their uniqueness — say they may find it difficult to go back to anything more run-of-the-mill.
A 60-year-old finance professional, who did not want to be named, is among Kayu’s customers. “Kayu gives my house that unique Asian look that wood work from Indonesia gives and yet sets it apart from the Indian goods that decorate the houses of my friends and family,” she said.
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)
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