Mukul Goyal of Designwise India is popularising the concept of art hardware

“It's a white building with blue glass windows,” we're told as we turn off NH-8 in Gurgaon.

The Designwise India building is a centre of activity. Downstairs, if you peep through the half-open doors, you'll see men busy sculpting and polishing what appear to be tiny brass men and putting them in boxes. On a staircase landing, an iron mini-bicycle hangs on a fluorescent green wall. Mukul Goyal, who owns the company and its two brands – Tattva and the Mukul Goyal signature line – is a man out to enjoy his work.

“I've was doing curtain hardware through Tattva for several years. Somewhere down the line, I thought of the home line,” says this IIT-Kanpur and NID alumnus. “I was clear that it should not be perceived as designer, because then it would be perceived as expensive. But it also needed to have a more distinct identity than being a part of Tattva. Hence, the Mukul Goyal signature line,” adds Goyal.

His line ID Designs is based on human figures, be it in the form of a man peeping into a mirror from the mirror frame, a doorstopper in the form of guy leaning against the door to keep it ajar, or two figures leaning to the middle to prevent the books from falling aside in what is simply a very clever book stand.

Goyal is now emerging as one of the more recognisable names in the field of art hardware, a concept that is still to pick up widely in the country. “So far, art hardware wasn't available here. Interior designers had to buy things that are available through import from Europe or China. Even then, they are more commodity-based than art-based. Sadly, people might be willing to spend lavishly on fancy cabinets, but not on knobs or handles. Things are changing though,” he says.

How the change in profession for an engineering student, we ask. “That's the beauty of life! From my point of view, it's serendipity. I was lucky to find something I wanted to do. But it came as a big shock for my family. Even I didn't know what I was getting into, so they were even more clueless about my plans. ‘Beta bigad gaya', they must have thought,” grins Goyal.

His company now has a strength of 120 employees. A few specialised processes are outsourced. “I want to retain that flexibility that I can design anything in any material and leave certain jobs for the experts. On the other hand, I also don't want the headache of not liking the way something has shaped up,” he says.

While Tattva is available only in the domestic market, the signature line sells from South America, Japan, Australia and the U.S., to name a few.

“Right now, rather than expansion, it's consolidation that we're looking at. We're trying to expand to specific zones,” Goyal says.

Besides the above-mentioned ID Designs, there are Dhokra work items and works in “crumpled” metal sheets. Goyal calls them the “A5”, “A4” and “A3” sheets. Interestingly, almost everything here has a name. So the framed mirror with the metal man peeping in is ‘I Love Mirror' and the hunky doorstopper is ‘Mr. Lean'.

Next year has something else to look forward to – a line of funky home signs.

“Quality is very critical – even more paramount than design. It's a daily struggle.”

Recently, Mukul Goyal was commissioned by the Government of India to redesign the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, along with the newly-instituted Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puraskar. “An award should be the kind that makes the person holding it feel proud. That's what I had in mind,” says the product designer.

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