Have you heard someone utter the phrase ‘touch wood’ after speaking of their good luck and following it up with a tap on the nearest patch of wood? Or perhaps you have done it yourself? The traditional act of knocking on wood stems from cultures who worshiped trees to ward off evil spirits or to maintain their good fortune.
The origins of this term may be archaic, but its connotation in the following pages is very ultra-chic. A furniture design house initiated in a garage with a few tools and two carpenters has brought along with it tons of good luck, which might have had something to do with the name they picked – Knock On Wood.
Aarti Aggarwal, ex-alumnus of University of Arts, London is the founder of Knock On Wood (KNW), while also heading the creative design team at KNW. Based out of New Delhi and Chandigarh, with a focus on customised and bespoke hardwood furniture, KNW voices stories through its designs, and is a craftsman’s and design connoisseur’s paradise.
They offer a wide range of customised products like coffee tables, consoles, sofas, chairs, trolleys, bars, beds and cabinets. In Aarti’s own words, “My journey began with a simple idea; a desire to express myself; to create something unique out of the natural elements, using my skill, craft and knowledge.”
Initiated as House of Design in her parents’ garage with two thousand dollars in hand, a saw and surface planer and two enthusiastic workers, Aarti had an inkling that her first line inspired by the Coronation chair of the Ming Dynasty would lead to ‘something bigger and better’.
“By the time we were done with the sawing, joining and polishing, I knew it was the beginning of a dream. Together we designed, drew, cut, sawed and chiselled our way to create a design company,” she says.
She started experimenting with chairs after a specialisation in Chair Design from Danish Skole of Design, Copenhagen. “The story started with chairs, but soon my clients wanted accompaniments. So I went on to design tables, beds, consoles and more,” she elucidates. Aarti’s strong design sensibility articulates her international exposure and innate love for Indian art and culture.
The seeds of design were sown in Aarti long before she came into the realm of institutionalised furniture design. Since building furniture was her father’s hobby, there was always a carpenter in their backyard; thus she was initiated to this craft early in life. “The thrill of seeing a log change shape motivated me. Design for me is a way of life; you don’t choose to design, it just needs to be done,” says Aarti.
It was a conscious decision to shift from House of Design to Knock On Wood to atone for the dearth of custom created quality furniture in the market. Brand KNW has built itself from a legacy of over a decade from the home brand, House of Design. It is now a dedicated furniture and product design studio that prioritises quality over quantity and is focused on creating bespoke furniture pieces that take centre stage in its client’s space.
KNW has carved a niche identity for itself in the market, leading to secure global brands such as Taj, Jecc Jaipur and Wave in the corporate, hospitality and residential sector as their clients.
The reason behind this, as Aarti enlightens us, is, “We combine traditional manufacturing techniques with the latest technological methods to transform the finest materials into furniture that exudes both classic and contemporary persona. With KNW, our focus is on high quality craftsmanship, fine detail and elegant style, where the creations will reflect our inspirations and our customer’s personality.”
To support this, they have a modern manufacturing facility of around 10,000 sq. ft. and a special R&D lab is dedicated to implement research on device machinery, working mechanisms for specific applications, and to test the behaviour of various finishes on wood and metal. The lab also implements stress-testing to avoid risk tool design for special applications.
They use oak, teak, pine, ash, cedar for their furniture which is locally sourced from vendors. To do their bit for the environment, KNW doesn’t cut trees occasionally, but chooses those that have fallen and engages in recycling whenever possible. It takes a lot of sweat and grime to start a business and keep it going, which wouldn’t be possible without a dedicated workforce.
Aarti shares about her current team at KNW, “We have a qualified design team of 12 people (8 designers, 4 engineers) engaged in customer interface, design, approval, project planning and delivery, as well as retail showroom support. Our manufacturing team of 45 comprises highly skilled carvers, carpenters, craftsmen for semi-precious stones inlay work, paint and polish experts, welders, lathe operators, tool room experts, 5 axis router programmer and operators, packers and administration.”
Ask her about any new developments that we can expect from their brand and Aarti is quick to respond, “The idea of an accent furniture piece actually being a multifunctional addition to the room greatly appeals to me. With this in mind I have launched a new collection ‘Yours Truly’. This collection comprises of the Solemate, Butler, Mistress and PA. It is a set of cabinets that attends to a multitude of individual requirements.”
Quality, custom made furniture has chiselled a home for itself at Knock On Wood. Try them out and see if they are tailored for your home as well.
Text By Rehana Hussain