During my high-school days, witnessing a blueprint of a plan getting converted into our home developed a passion in me for design and construction of spaces. The house took one and a half year to build, and I got involved in designing the entrance door, mirrors, mandir and other small items with the help of my father. By the time we shifted into our new home, I had already decided to pursue a career in design.
In 1995, I joined the CEPT University based in Ahmedabad to pursue a course in Interior Design. Here I was introduced to the alluring world of creativity. During the course, I was greatly influenced by a lecture on unfettered and fearless design ideas by Dashrath Patel. He guided my graduation thesis and during the course, he became my guide and mentor for the rest of my design journey.
After my graduation I took up my Post-Graduation course in 3D Design from the Kent institute of Art and Design, UK. During this research-based course, the topic of my research was – ‘Alternative use of materials in Design’. I supported my thesis with a live design project for a bicycle workshop. This resulted in a range of products including lamps and a rocking chair. The project won a great deal of appreciation in the institute and gave me confidence to dream big towards setting up my own firm that would work in the area of alternative use of materials.
After 6 years of work experience, I started Studio Alternatives in 2009 along with my sister Dolly who is a professional photographer. We worked on several conventional residential projects, but at the same time we started experimenting on my ideas to develop objects and furniture from discarded materials. This led to the creation of the “Bucket Stool” which makes good use of old paint buckets and old jute bags to make the compact poufs.
A couple of discarded chairs were converted into a couple of desireable chairs with a table for company. Similarly an old door was given a new lease of life and converted into a conference table.
Apart from creating stools and tables we also created lamps using traditional birdcages and discarded shopping bags. Our idea of reusing and recreating was redefining itself in different ways leading to both beautiful and functional creations.
Post the creation of functional products, in September 2012 I toyed with the idea of starting a workshop, which brought me in contact with Kiran Marre.
Together we started ‘Alternative Workshop’ to overcome the challenge of finding a skilled and motivated work-team. Kiran has an experience of 9 years in Product Research, Development and Execution. Having our own workshop made it possible for us to take my idea of creating furniture and accessories with discarded materials into mainstream design.
Without trying to project this design philosophy as an exclusive work, we initially started using these ideas partially in all our regular interior projects. The feedback received was highly encouraging.
We are also working on creating a system of acquiring scrap on a regular basis and using it to create a product line that can be manufactured using the batch production method.
Last year Gunika Sharma, a student who did her internship with us worked along with us in developing a lamp series titled ‘Pipeline’. These lamps were created from PVC pipe scrap obtained from construction sites.
Slowly but steadily the scale of work grew during which we also restored an old discarded, broken boat and installed it as a restaurant hoarding. In one of our recent projects, we utilised a used shipping container to create a luxurious living space.
As we step into another day, the genesis of new products and materials continues however at Studio Alternatives, we choose and will continue to reuse and recycle as an aesthetic and intellectual choice, as it helps us in building a better and greener world.