Aakriti Kumar is a Delhi-based Furniture Designer and owns a store named Differniture. She learned the art of designing furniture from New York and believes in crafting environment-friendly products while keeping the rawness of wood alive. Aakriti also believes in getting furniture designed instead of shopping for a ready to buy piece of wood.
Q: From where does the inspiration come from to design sustainable furniture that too with the inclusion of non-toxic material?
I studied product design in college at Parsons School for Design, NY. One of the main focuses apart from learning how to create functional, practical products was to keep in mind the importance of a sustainable design process. As designers, it is up to us to create pieces that have a minimal impact on the environment. Thus a cradle-to-cradle approach as what stuck with me even after graduating from design school. When I returned to India I took this ideology with me and started my own brand called Differniture. The idea of creating an environmentally conscious product comes easily then one looks to nature for inspiration. I have used various natural inspirations throughout the ideation of my products ranging from waterfalls to ripples in water and topographic undulations in the form of step farms in mountains. Since the best way to be inspired by nature is to use natural materials. I decided to look for raw material that had been used once and discarded along with using non-toxic finishes on my products.
Q: Elaborate what all went into designing The Raindrop Chandelier, Wooden Upholstery Chaise, The Guitar Chair and other such furniture and can a person get your exclusively designed furniture customized as per his/her space?
Differniture believes in getting inspired by nature as well as using the raw material at hand to create one of a kind products boasting the natural grain of the wood. The raindrop chandelier has been created using the layers of wood that have been hand carves to mimic the droplets of rain in a sculptural manner, the wooden upholstery chaise uses small triangular pieces of reclaimed wood that are compressed onto fabric and upholstered onto a wooden structure. The triangles move when someone sits on them as it conforms to the curves of the body making it comfortable to sit on. The guitar chair is inspired by music and creates a sculptural product that looks like a wooden guitar but can be sat on and has a comfortable scoop for a straight back chair. All the products made by Differniture can be altered to work with the client’s space as well as colour requirements. We can also design some products specifically for projects and their requirements.
Q: How important it is to have appropriate furniture at home or office? Also let our readers know if furniture designing is a budget-friendly affair and what are the essentials they must consider while getting it done?
Each piece of furniture should compliment the space within which it has been placed. Getting something ready-made from the market or online can be done so at a reasonable price point. However getting something that truly fits into your space and is designed specially for it can increase the price of the product. The important aspect while getting something customized to not expedite the timeline of the pieces. Wood must be given ample time to season and that will result in less warpage in the upcoming months.
Q: Being awarded for an exemplary furniture designing, where you find Differniture in next five years and do you plan to work with realtors to offer smartly designed homes in future?
The next five years Differniture will branch off into creating spaces rather than just furniture for sale. The ideology of sustainability will be able to be seen in the form of cabins in the Himalayas that Differniture will be conceiving and building for sale.
Q: Differniture focus on non-toxic materials to design furniture, so tell us about the things you kept in mind while designing a cabin nestled in the Himalayas.
Differniture will not only focus on pushing their sustainable ideology in the form of wood working but also create a socially responsible way of creating these homes. Locally sourced fallen trees, local artisans and masons will be given employment, the sawdust that will be left over from the wooden working of the structure and furniture will be converted into sawdust compressed pellets for fire starters that will be distributed to the neighbouring villagers so that they don’t go into the forests and chop trees in order to start fires to keep warm or make foods in their homes.
Q: The shades of wood play an important role in your furniture designing. So, let us know how important the quality of wood is when it comes to furniture designing? Also, do you trust Indian wood only or you like to work with imported wooden logs as per the choice and requirement of a client?
There are so many different species of wood that can have beautiful varying grain and colour. It is a true tragedy to stain the wood and make it look like something else. I believe in highlighting the natural grain of the wood and thus will choose pine or acacia to create a lighter colour furniture piece or a rosewood or teak to achieve a darker product. Since I believe in a sustainably driven sourcing of material most of the fallen trees are acquired from within the Delhi NCR region barring the pinewood which comes from shipping containers for automotive parts which come from different areas of Southeast Asia. As far as I can help I like to keep the sourcing of wood from within India.
Q: Where do you see furniture designing industry of India in coming time and do you think that homes here can have a different look with the help of furniture designing?
Furniture in India is still stuck in a highly ornamented and opulent direction. However there are a number of designers which are coming up with innovative new designs in India and thus wave will eventually change this ideology which will result in modern, clean space efficient and sculptural spatial design.