Open, build, save

uByld, an e-commerce platform for affordable furniture, aims to usher in a spirit of DIY among Indians while saving the planet too

Updated - March 29, 2016 04:01 pm IST

Published - August 18, 2015 05:42 pm IST - Bengaluru

The eco team -- Shobha Nair with Pradeep and Denzil D’Souza

The eco team -- Shobha Nair with Pradeep and Denzil D’Souza

In comparison to the West, the Do-It-Yourself spirit is not fundamental to living in India. Families rarely make room for a garage or workspace where things for the home can be built or repaired. Instead, one is taught to either rely on carpenters or simply walk into a store and make a quick purchase. But, Shobha Nair, her brother Pradeep, and their friend Denzil D’Souza want things to change. They want to bring a change in the mindset that looks down upon furniture crafted from recycled wood. Attempting to challenge another predisposition of Indian furniture buyers, the team ships unassembled furniture components, requiring families to come together and assemble the piece themselves at home.

“There are two main strands of thought behind uByld,” explains Shobha, who handles furniture design at the Bangalore based e-commerce platform. “One, we must all give back to the environment, because processed boards have constituents such as resin that are harmful. Two, assembling furniture is fun! It gives one a good reason to do something together as a family. The DIY activity also results in a beautiful and functional piece of furniture for your home,” she says. Shobha, who used to work as a Regional Treasury Manager at Honeywell, Singapore, upon returning to the country found that stylish, reasonably priced, quality furniture was not available in the market. “Buying tasteful and quality furniture in Singapore is cheaper. In comparison, well-designed pieces are exorbitantly priced in India, and cheaper options are lacking in character,” she says. “Our objective is to bridge this gap. We want to cater to middle-class homes and young individuals who’d like to invest in well-designed, quality pieces.”

A coffee table is priced at Rs. 1,449 on uByld site, and a crockery shelf costs Rs. 1,959. The affordability factor is certainly attractive and for those with reservations about the quality of wood, the team backs up the durability of the product with studies and research.

“We’ve put in a lot of time researching and testing the quality of the wood. These are shipping pallets that have come from Europe and are used for building boxes for heavy machinery, such as cars. Hence, the wood is strong. Moreover, the pallets are made of pinewood. Typically pinewood is the preferred choice for making furniture in the West. This is because it has a unique smell that wards off termites. Also, it is heat treated, water resistant and makes for great outdoor furniture. Importantly, it is available in plenty at a cost at which we can buy and sell,” says Shobha.

Not wanting to exceed the 5,000-6,000 price range, the team plans to add cots and other DIY pieces that will help customers in the organisation of their home. Currently, a range of planters, wall shelves, racks, stools, tables, and benches are available on the site. The products are available in a range of finishes and can be easily put together at home. “They are handcrafted and created by Vishwakarma craftsmen – a traditional carpenter community. Since, the components are not machine cut, each piece looks and fits differently,” adds Shobha.

Pre-drilled components, accompanied by screws and screw-drivers, are shipped to customers, who are provided with an easy set of instructions to put the piece together. Instructions are also sent over email and 3-D drawings are made available. The website has videos on putting the pieces together as well. “For those who are not into DIY but care for the planet, there is a preassembled option available for a small fee. The extra charge is to deter customers from opting for the preassembled option and selecting the DIY option instead,” states Shobha.

Launched in May this year, uByld.com has grown steadily, adding new and functional products to its line. Despite the challenges it faces from the Indian bias towards recycled wood and self-assembled furniture, it has been able to find its share of takers. “That our furniture requires only screws and bolts to set it up and no glue is surprising for many, including my father!” says Shobha.

“Our hope is that people own and use at least one piece of uByld furnitureshe finishes.

uByld.com delivers in Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune, and Delhi/NCR.

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