Highlighting the beautiful imperections of wood, Solid Bench, a carpentry boutique, venerates woodworking skills.
Emulating the reigning trends of slow fashion and slow-food, Solid Bench, a boutique carpentry studio in NCR, India, approaches woodworking by stressing on processes and resources. Hailing from engineering and management background, the founders Anant Khirbat and Jitesh Sharma, celebrate wood, the material – its imperfections et al – by fusing it with fine woodworking skills to craft ground-breaking furniture pieces. Hitesh tells The Inside Track how they take pride in their craftsmanship and enjoy the process of giving a tree a new life and form.
Tell us about the inception and intent behind Solid Bench.
We started Solid bench, when we wanted to buy some furniture for our house, a few years ago. It was very difficult to buy high quality pieces at an affordable price. When we searched online for the same, we felt that there was a real need for a fine woodworking studio in our part of the country i.e. NCR.
Would you briefly tell us about your background and training?
Anant and I jointly run the studio. We are both engineers and MBAs. Solid bench is actually an offshoot of our packaging company where wood is a key raw material. So our experience in running manufacturing centers and managing people came in handy when we decided to start the wood studio.
What are the key factors that influence furniture making at Solid Bench?
Minimalism is something which is close to our hearts. While we do custom furniture as well, we usually do not deviate in our choice of material, which primarily is Indian Rosewood. Moreover, design inspirations for us, in all honesty, come through social networking pages these days. Pinterest, Instagram etc., have been a great source of ideas.
Your collections are sensibly crafted and celebrate the spirit of creation and natural wood. Is there a conscious thought behind the development of each creation?
Not really. So far, it’s mostly on intuition and objects around us. For example, we conceived the space time table, while watching a documentary about black holes on Natgeo.
Tell us something about the LIVE EDGE Furniture Collection.
Live edge furniture has been used for centuries, and in last few decades it was popularized by legends like George Nakashima. The Japanese American crafts movement has been a great source of inspiration for us.
Our live edge pieces are individually attended to and designed. It is a very fuzzy process, in the sense that only when we see a piece of wood, spend some time thinking about what it could be turned into, that the final piece comes out. So it’s not pre-determined by design, but by the timber that we have.
With the alarming increase in environmental hazards and depleting natural resources, it has become crucial to be responsible while choosing materials and manufacturing products. What are the special measures undertaken by the studio to counter environmental deterioration?
We only buy certified wood. We are Vriksh-certified by EPCH and have been in the export market for some time now. Rosewood especially, is a much regulated species in the export markets and we ensure that we do not buy anything which is not legal. Also, the finishing we use is essentially natural oils like Tung and Linseed.
There is a marked evolution in how design is perceived in India. The end-user acknowledges the importance of both ergonomics and aesthetics while purchasing furniture. How does the studio cater to the diverse needs?
Ergonomics are important – especially when it comes to seating. Any new design spends a few months in our studio before launched in the market. We use it ourselves, take it home, see if people use it or avoid sitting on it. We do not feel that it is difficult to merge ergonomics and aesthetics. It though, at times limits the possibilities in terms of the structural details.
What are you currently working on and any plan to expand you’re work portfolio in future?
We are upgrading our studio with a few new machines and tools, also investing in new seasoning kilns (which we feel is the most important process step i.e. preparing the raw material). We haven’t worked with upholstery and sofas so far, so, our new project is around creating a few pieces where while exploring upholstery, we will still ensure that we do not hide the beauty of the wooden grain.
So far, most of our work is custom- designed, but we are changing our business model to a ready-in-store. Where clients can come to our studio, choose products on display and take them home.
Where can people buy your products: in-store/online/directly from you?
We list our regular products on our website, we also post on www.instagram.com/solidbench.