‘Heated gold becomes an ornament. Sculpted stone becomes a statue and handcrafted metal becomes ‘Bend’. ‘
L.A. based Gaurav Nanda, the founder of ‘Bend’, may be fairly new on the design map but he has started off with a thunderous bang. Bend predominantly designs bent wire furnishings which are handmade and the complicated wire patterns used are not just another super – tricky matchstick puzzle, they are designed to provide strength to the frame of the designed piece. Made out of recyclable iron the furniture is pretreated with anti – rust agents which makes the products a perfect option for both outdoors and indoors.
There is more to Bend than just furniture, typically the idea of animal trophy heads bring out mixed reactions from the audience, however one can’t miss the humour in Gaurav’s whimsical bent wire trophy heads. Gaurav has been studying and building on the legacy of bent wire furniture left behind by Harry Bertoia. His chairs look like the vibrant and comfortable siblings of the 50’s Bertoia collection. Gaurav’s work is greatly influenced by Buckminster Fuller and those who know Bucky’s ‘iconic’ Geodesic dome would be able to note the resemblance.
He may be a newcomer in the industry but we have our GPS marked on him and after reading this interview I am sure you would have yours too.
When did you realise design was your true calling?
As a child I grew up in the suburbs of Detroit. Those early years I found myself building, joining, or bending something, whether it be constructing a teepee, painting with oils, or throwing pots. Once, I made a screen printing machine, where I built a frame, stencil, and got a squeegee to pass paint through. It was to mark the beginning of my t-shirt printing business.
Those early creative impulses were to prove instrumental in my professional life as a sculptor, designer, and entrepreneur.
After graduating from Purdue and studying animation in Vancouver, my early career years were spent working as a sculptor/designer for an automotive company. I learned a lot about form and line quality, which set the stage for working with wire.
In 2008, I took an opportunity to work with my sister on her invention, Clocky, the runaway alarm clock that gets you out of bed. After a couple of years it became time to start my own venture.
I moved to Los Angeles and pursued my interest with California life. California has so much to offer with every beach, desert, mountain and interesting cities like Palm Springs filled with mid-century modern homes.
Bend is heavily into metal products. Can you take us through the journey of the product right from drawing board to the store?
The process starts with something I see, like maybe a cup I am inspired by or a certain type of bird. From there, I sketch out some rough concept drawings of what the furniture might look like. I play around with scale and shape, and once I have some solid ideas I build paper models with vellum paper and clear tape. Previously I would build products in a 3D software program, but I am finding it more and more useful and tangible to see a physical form.
After a physical model is made we make samples and go through extensive testing.
The manufacturing process of our chairs involves a handcrafted method of shaping and spot welding, a process we like to call ‘bending.’ Each bend is carefully arranged to ensure structural strength, while the angles of the back, the curves of the seat, and the closeness of the wires are designed to encourage relaxation and utility.
A material that you would like to explore and think has a great potential…
I want to explore the uses of wool and ceramic. These are very earthy materials.
Are there any inspirations that trigger your design sensibilities?
I spent two years developing my line and took cues from 1950’s sculptor Harry Bertoia’s metal rod chairs. I set out to find a way to update the concept and offer something different and edgier and lot more intricate and comfortable.
Inspiration comes from everywhere but music plays a crucial role in my process. New songs and artists are constantly playing in the workshop, which makes for a lively and happier work environment too.
I also take cues from the work of Buckminster Fuller, who created the geodesic dome, movie maker Wes Anderson, and my mother’s handmade macramé plant-holders.
In a way the patterns used in my work can be traced to my Indian heritage, as an homage of sorts to my thriving culture.
What makes you tick as a designer?
My focus is to reinvent simplicity, execute impeccable craftsmanship with modern concepts and to inject the environments around me with wit and functionality. These are important characteristics to my work. I believe in doing what you love to do and the rest will follow.
What are the challenges faced when you work with metal?
Designing in metal for outdoor furniture is more challenging than indoor furniture. We have to take measures to prevent corrosion. Materials that can be used are limited because they come into contact with harsh elements in the environment.
Any plans on entering the Indian market?
Shipping costs are too expensive to ship small orders to India. We are looking for a distributor who can purchase a large quantity to sell locally in India.
You are primarily into furniture (outdoor and indoor) and décor. Any plans to diversify your product portfolio?
We still have lots to explore in furniture and decor. No plans to venture in another direction.
On a lighter note…Is there a place/ space that makes you say “it’s good to be here” every time you visit it?
Home and the beach… Love those two places, they are relaxing and peaceful.