When Patterns Of Nature Met Furniture : In Conversation with Aakriti Kumar

Differeniture—a bespoke furniture store—sits calmly in this quiet locality exuding an aura of creative energies. Meandering through the narrow- yet- posh lanes of Sainik farms, I couldn’t hold in my excitement when I finally spotted the store.

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Warmly welcomed by Aakriti Kumar, the creator of Differniture, I entered her newly launched store, the entrance of which stands out with lush vines and creepers growing on both sides of a little alley that opens into a gigantic hall. The door was adorned with a design made out of circular wooden pucks conveying Kumar’s love for intricate detailing and ingenuity.

The hall, awashed in natural light, serves as an exhibit for the hand-crafted furniture pieces such as a rocking chair, a reclaimed pine bookchair, a pixel console table, asymmetrical and angular table lamps, chandeliers, a piano chair and her photographs – distorted to make an intriguing circular pattern. All the pieces had a sculptural element while being functional at the same time. “I derive my inspiration from the patterns in nature. The ripples on the water surface, topographic maps, step farming on the side of a hill, the Himalayas. Someone from Indonesia who was visiting the ID Symposium said that the design reminds them of the paddy fields of step-wise farming. I feel it has a lot to do with layers. Not only the literal layer that one sees in these pieces but also exposing the rings of the tree trunk.” To me, it seemed like lego pieces with psychedelic patterns put together into functional piece of art. The beauty of her work majorly lies in how one could derive their own interpretations—just like poetry.

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There is a wall dedicated to displaying the name of the store. Each letter is carved out of wooden pieces left over from her previous projects, creating an interestingly profound way of presentation.

“The material that I use are from trees that have been cut down for interfering with power lines or even already fallen trees, or shipping containers that have been abandoned after the material they were carrying has been removed. In terms of my production, I try to create zero-mineral waste designs and also use natural oils and waxes that are not toxic. I, also, try to keep the imperfections in the wood pieces intact as they create a three dimensional look which have a past life that has been translated into something new and interesting.” On the left was a room embellished with a couple of thoughtfully designed tables and chairs along with a humongous painting which covered the entire wall.

Talking about her creative process, Kumar reminisced about Parson School of Design where she studied Product Design. “I took up a class called ‘Rethinking Sustainable Design’ where we had to collect all our trash for a week, keep a tab on the number of flushes one made and for how long one takes a shower. It gives you an insight on how much you consume and how much you’re throwing away every day. We had to turn the data into an infographic and reflect on how we can cut down. According to them, it is a designer’s responsibility to use the right material in a sustainable, zero waste, eco-friendly way and strictly follow the principle of reduce, reuse and recycle.”

After coming back to India, she started working with a manufacturing company for about 8 months before starting her own label in 2014, after her mentor at the factory pushed her into start something of her own.

We strolled into a part of the store that looked like a living space unveiling some more of her wonderful work encompassing a fireplace, a vintage clock, two paintings made by her mother, an antique arm chair which belonged to her great grandfather, two murals, also painted by her mother years ago, and an old jhula. The walls of this particular space were covered with cowdung cakes to impart that rustic, Indian feel unique to homes in rural areas that resonate impeccably with her ideation and design. The workshop, where Kumar created magic along with her team of immaculate carpenters was right beside this space, in the outer region. One could constantly hear the sound of wood being scraped smoothly, blending in with the feeling of calm that surrounds the store where Kumar and her family once resided. Behind the store was a huge garden lined by greenery and a yellow bicycle sitting at a height.

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“I enjoy working with my hands.” chirped Kumar as we made ourselves comfortable on a neatly polished hickory leather sofa paired with a topographic coffee table designed by her. “I have built furniture with my own hands, which is why it becomes comparatively easy for me to convey what I want from my carpenters [a challenges in itself] because each piece that I make is different from the rest. I have the design pretty clear in my head, but I have to give them bite sized chunks that they can digest.”

She hit the right note when it came to the question of dealing with creative blocks, “Inspiration comes when it has to, ideas come when they have to. I get dreams about things and then I get up in the morning jot them down as quickly as possible otherwise they just flow away like they weren’t ever there. Its is always good to keep a journal of your ideas to get back to for reference.”

“I have been asked this question several times about why I prefer handcraft over machines. I genuinely believe that a piece of art exudes reality and authenticity with the imperfections that can only be imparted by human touch. Nothing can possibly beat that. Not machines.” she said gleefully.

W-4D/4 B-225 Sainik Farms

Nearest Metro Station: Saket/Chattarpur

Contact: Write to differniture@gmail.com

 

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