Ahmedabad’s boutique carpentry studio, StudioWorks artfully integrates India’s indigenous craft in their collections, and articulates their passion for good design through insightful explorations.
Overriding the extremes of stiff pragmatism and poorly devised idiosyncrasies in furniture design, StudioWorks, an Ahmedabad-based furniture studio, strives to achieve a balanced exploration of form, function and materials in their collections. The studio displays insightful adaptation of the materials, astute understanding of the function, and a thrilling passion for innovative design.
Here, Nehal Bhatt tells The Inside Track, ‘comfort is primary to furniture design since it is the most tangible’, and hence their exploration and study revolves around function first, followed by material and design.
Tell us about the story behind inception of StudioWorks.
We have a passion for design. We always want to find new expressions in design through experiments with material, form and detail. In our early years as interior designers, we found the constraints and limitations of on-site manufacturing, frustrating. With the desire to achieve excellence in everything we made, we decided to set up a workshop to design, experiment and develop our own furniture and interior products.
Would you briefly tell us about your background and training?
I graduated as an interior designer from the School of Design, CEPT, Ahmedabad in 2000. As a part of the course, I did my internship with Anish Shah Designs, Mumbai. Anish’s office was part of a furniture manufacturing unit, which was my first real exposure to furniture making. After my graduation, I joined Quetzal designs, which was a furniture firm based in Bangalore. After a short stint at interior work in Surat, I moved to Ahmedabad and started practice as an interior designer. I was offered a teaching position in CEPT and taught as a full time faculty from 2005 to 2012. I set up the workshop in 2012.
Your collections are sensibly designed and celebrate the beauty of craftsmanship. Is there a conscious though behind customising and developing all your products?
Each product is an opportunity to explore new ideas and comes with its unique set of possibilities. The function and usage pattern opens up avenues for exploration of form and structure. Once an idea is in place, it’s the process of making that takes over, which governs the development of details.
There is an astute sense of structure, ergonomics along with striking aesthetics showcased in your work; how do you incorporate these factors seamlessly in your work?
Our outlook to materials is very pragmatic. We believe that good design can only evolve from a clear understanding of materials. We strive to use a material meaningfully. We attempt to bring elements from different materials, together in an evocative manner. This is realised through details of construction.
We believe that comfort is primary to furniture design since it is the most tangible and so each product goes through a rigorous routine of prototyping before it is put into production. A lot of these decisions are guided by intuition but based on experience over a period of time.
Tell us about the entire scope of work undertaken by StudioWorks.
At StudioWorks we indulge in design in more ways than one. We primarily design and develop our own range of furniture. Besides, we also take up projects with designing and productions. In cases like institutional furniture, we develop designs for the furniture and take up production work separately.
What role does India’s extensive craft heritage and craftsmanship play in your own signature style?
In India, we are fortunate to have ingenious craftsmen using local materials and age old techniques. We take it as an opportunity to integrate these in our design solutions. We try to understand the techniques of a craft so that we may seamlessly apply it in our designs. We believe that it is our responsibility as designers to integrate crafts into mainstream design so as to keep them relevant and surviving in current times.
Take us through the manufacturing process. Are the objects handcrafted in your studio workshop or machine-made?
The wood working processes such as cutting, sizing and shaping are machine done since it saves time and replication is accurate. But the fine skills of craftwork, joineries and assembling are completely hand done. We believe in doing most work in-house so as to have complete control over the process and finishes. In case of craftwork, it gives us an opportunity to work directly with the craftsmen.
What are the materials you essentially work with? Any plans to explore new materials?
We work predominantly with wood and metal in combination with other materials. We look forward to working with stone and concrete as and when the opportunity arises.
Does StudioWorks take any special measure to counter environmental deterioration?
We believe in responsible design. We use only reclaimed teakwood for all our furniture work. All the wood we buy is locally sourced so as to engage minimal transport. Besides, all our wood coating is natural, oil-based materials.
What are you currently working on and any plans to expand your work portfolio in future?
We are working in collaboration with some interesting design firms. Besides, we are also working on developing some seating ideas for residential spaces. We are in the process of developing furniture with ceramic art. In due course of time, we plan to develop a range of furniture for kids.
Where can people buy your products: in store/on-line/directly from you?
As of now, we mostly sell directly from our studio. We have also tied up with a couple of stores – Decove in Surat, to sell our furniture for that region. It is a model we intend to follow in the coming time. We are looking at stores in Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore to showcase our furniture.