Swati Santani gives her personalised touch to that chair

It is a real task to locate her office in HAL 2nd Stage. The next task is to get this really shy designer to talk and smile for us. “I am just not comfortable doing these things,” she says. So we decide to sit at her office and ask her about her work. She gets so involved in explaining her work that she gradually relaxes and starts talking about her passion.

Swati Santani is young and loves designing furniture and tiny accessories. Her designs match your first impression about her — quiet, yet strong and stylish. She smiles and says that she took to interior design and felt that she was intrigued by furniture. She did her post graduation diploma in furniture design at NID, Ahmedabad. After which, she started working with various Indian and international furniture companies, in the design and the sales departments to study the furniture market.

Working on space

“When I was into interiors I was more interested in small-scale products. But I realised that I can make it more personalised if I focussed on furniture,” starts this designer, who has made Bangalore her home for the last four years.

Having worked in Mumbai and Bangalore, she chose Bangalore because the company that offered her a job here was more interesting. “I have grown with the company and have learnt so much. Then I decided that I had to do something on my own at my own pace. So I started the Working Radius.”

Swati says she enjoys being on her own and exhibits her collections as and when she puts them together. “My first exhibition was all about accessories inspired by sea shells. I received a very good response. Now I am working on a collection of furniture and soon plan to have my next exhibition,” she says.

She shows us her 3-D sketches on her laptop. The designs are contemporary. There are desktops, corner lamps, coasters, table linen, table ware etc. “The designs provide style and are yet quite functional.” Then she shows us the design of a centre table which can be used as a mini library or to keep your tea pot and cups and the stools also can be slid under the table when not in use. “These days space is such a constraint that one has to come up with such ideas,” she adds.Swati does not believe in mass production and says that she uses recycled fibre boards that are lacquered in different shades to create her accessories and furniture. “Designing furniture is not like pure art where you start with something and end up creating something else. You have to create something that sells and for that you have to study the market and the customer, his needs and his budget. It is sad that whenever I have visited international furniture exhibitions, they don't even consider India as a market. Even south Asian countries target the European market. We get only the second best here,” she observes.

“My aim is to show that Indian contemporary furniture can be on par with the international designs. The sad thing is that people hesitate to contact a designer and would rather pick something that the market offers.”

Swati can be contacted on swati.santani@workingradius.in or on 9980563743.

This column features those who choose to veer off the beaten track.