As I step into a small, yet neatly organised apartment in Khar, Mumbai, an aura of nostalgia grips me and reminds me of times when locomotives were driven by steam and movies like ‘Casablanca’ were all the rage.
‘Ironworks’ – the name perhaps creates the visual imagery of a workshop where workers toil all day to create a country made revolver or an iron bust or figurine. However, I am delighted to share that it’s a brand name for furniture pieces which regale the industrial era.
Tejal Mathur needs no introduction, a well-known interior designer she has forayed into furniture and the results are splendid. Explains Tejal, “Basically ‘Ironworks’ would be used as a suffix to a brand that was engaged in steel or machine tool manufacturing back in the days. Factories then had steel trusses and big windows, and you had a lot of people working there welding by hand. The kind of furniture I do is actually created using similar processes.”
A number of furniture pieces of Ironworks are also an amalgam of wood and iron – together they create a story which brilliantly depicts the era when revolution and counter revolution was on the rise and the world was ruled by big names in history like Churchill and Roosevelt.
This industrial vintage kind of furniture that Ironworks produces can’t be done in a jiffy; it requires a significant amount of effort and time. All finishes are hand done, and Tejal personally checks on the finer details of the end product ensuring that it meets her stamp of approval.
As I analyse the Ironworks coffee table displayed at the store, Tejal explains “I use teakwood only if it is already in furniture form, hence for a large part of my creations I prefer using the substitute varieties instead. When it comes to durability, most Indian hardwoods thankfully respond appropriately to the climate when used in the right way and with the right application, and this has certainly made my job easier.”
Though the vintage pieces take you back in time, they are well suited for today’s luxury apartments that dot the city skyline; furthermore since the pieces are bespoke, it certainly adds a touch of novelty apart from the dash of old world charm it brings along with it.
Some may consider furniture design as a viable business vertical for an interior design professional, but as the conversation steps into the finer characteristics of furniture making Tejal reveals “It is a discovery of the self which speaks through these pieces, it probably also reflects the anecdotes and nostalgia that I grew up with. In a way it is a window to the past which we tether on to when we look down memory lane.”
The factor of individualism is at work even when Tejal executes her interior design projects, “Everything I do imbibes a bit of my personality, but unlike my interior design projects which are more, and rightfully so, client driven, Ironworks gives me a chance to completely express and not explain myself.”
However, she is quick to elucidate, “Apart from vintage accents in a home which reflect my sub conscious elements, I must add I cannot do without the very modern edgy design of efficient products from brands like Vitra, the MOMA kitchenware, Crate n Barrel dinnerware and stemware or Muji boxes and organisers that are high on quality and seamlessly fit right in; no matter how relaxed or organic the setting might be.”
The array of products at Ironworks includes coffee tables, desktop lamps, floor lamps, trays and much more. These products which are produced across the country are a candid reflection of the industrial revolution which altered our lifestyle.
Though this wave of industrial onslaught has our market riddled with mass produced goods, there is a certain unbridled charm which speaks out when the end product is aided by precise machining, processes and skilled workmanship – and this is undoubtedly the USP of Ironworks.
Text By Vikas Bhadra