Bharat Floorings is a single stop destination for quality cement floorings. The company is one of the few manufacturers of heritage tiles which adorn timeless architectural marvels of the city and the nation.
It’s two hours past noon and we are greeted by a gentleman who looks at us straight in the eye with curiosity and asks, “So you guys want to…” following which we go on to explain the eagerness on our part; which justifies the inquisitive aura which has probably set in.
We are in conversation with Firdaus Variava, the Director of Bharat Floorings and Tiles. For those who came in late, Bharat Floorings is considered as the leader in quality cement floorings - a reputation it has held on to for ninety years.
In 1922, Bharat Floorings pioneered the cement tile industry in India as part of the Swadeshi movement. From these humble beginnings Bharat Floorings grew to deck the palaces of Maharaja’s, Governor’s mansions, landmark buildings, airports and many other spaces which are landmarks today.
As the conversation builds, Firdaus Variava points out, “Today, more and more architects lean towards minimalistic designs, however, with regard to floorings we have proceeded in reverse; we are going back in time, a time when handcrafted luxury was a viable and a sustainable option. You will be surprised to know that the heritage tile, which is one of our superstar products, is a handcrafted entity. The heritage tile takes a minimum of 45 days to deliver from the time of purchase. And when I say purchase, I mean the day you place the order after going through the designs, patterns and colour combinations we have to offer.”
Bharat Floorings and Tiles manufactures a range of tiles suited for homes that city-skylines are dotted with. The company manufactures plain vitrified tiles too, while their mosaic and chequered varieties have been a favourite when it comes to mass housing projects, where cheaper and sustainable varieties are more in demand.
At Bharat Flooring you can also mass customize, let’s say you have your own design or pattern which you want to impinge upon the coloured tile of your choice, the firm will be more than happy to oblige.
Then, there are those buildings reminiscent of the era gone by, an era when a regular bank note carried the picture of a King George V. For such heritage structures and others which reflect the timeless work of architecture which bloomed in this country in the British era, just any tile won’t do; it needs to be crafted with zeal, and aesthetically it has to be in sync with the sublime period of pre-independent India. This is where Bharat Floorings’ heritage tiles play a major role.
The manufacturing process of these heritage tiles is a closely guarded secret, however, after a lot of persuasion Firdaus shares some sketchy details, “Coloured cement is poured carefully into the various sections of a mould by hand. After the mould is filled, it is compressed under hydraulic pressure to give the tile strength. Finally, the tiles are cured in tanks of water for an extended period of time for them to gain strength. Then, they are packed and dispatched!”
Talking about heritage tiles directs our conversation to the pre-independence era, and Firdaus’ face brightens up. He goes on to share an anecdote which led to the evolution of Bharat Floorings, “In 1923 Bharat Flooring was pitted against the best that Europe and Italy had to offer. Following which my grandfather Mr. Pherozesha Sidhwa went to Italy to study the process of manufacturing world class tiles with the intention of emulating the same back home. Once he was back, Bharat was ready to take on the fight,” he declares proudly.
“But it was not until 1991 that our most prized product, the heritage tiles came into the picture, these tiles which have enticing motifs on them was a rage abroad in the 20’s. Even today the motifs that we use are actually the ones which were made in 1923. It’s true that we have put some indigenous designs to use as well, but honestly, 90% of what you see in our showroom still belongs to that bygone era,” he adds.
Firdaus has reason to be happy, not only do his products continue to keep the cash registers ringing with notes impinged with the Mahatma, but the company has also floored the city along its length and breadth.
Some landmark installations include the High Court, Metro Cinema, Mumbai Airport, Churchgate Station, Max Mueller Bhavan, the Mint, Mantralaya, Air India Building, Taj Mahal Intercontinental and the list goes on.
Going by the price of these exquisite hand crafted tiles on offer we must add that they are quite a steal, considering it lets you own a piece of history and brings that added touch of renaissance to your living space.
Text By Vikas Bhadra
Photograph By Snigdha Hodarkar