Society

Tyred and tested

SIT DOWN On cane and tyre and cloth

SIT DOWN On cane and tyre and cloth  

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Designer Anu Tandon Vieira has used Mumbai’s ample industrial cloth waste and discarded tyres to create a furniture line The Retyrement Plan

With an eye for colour and design, you can’t but admire these lovely little Ottomans and chairs making their riotous presence felt in the store all lit up with a thousand lamps. That these pieces of furniture are made of twine, plastic waste, old rubber tires, old wood, bamboo, and cane is secondary.

Or that’s how it should be, believes their creator Anu Tandon Vieira. Mumbai-based Anu has brought to Bengaluru her Retyrement Plan. “You should like a piece for what it is. Up-cycling or recycling shouldn’t be used as a crutch… it should be good on its own. Of course when I tell people what my furniture is about, they feel better. I have always seen art in what is classically not considered beautiful… I had a thing for that,” says Anu. She was in Bengaluru’s popular lighting store The Purple Turtles last week. “I’m not a big fan of recycling because too much energy is used up to make a material return to its raw form. Up-cycling, on the other hand, uses skill and talent to make a useful product, without much wastage of energy.”

Mumbai is full of industrial waste, and she finds it easy to catch it in their virgin state rather than wait for them to reach landfills. “I jet spray old tyres I buy, laquer and paint them. I use frames made of cane and bamboo for the chairs. I started working with sustainable material and textile waste from tailoring units also. In parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat, these textile wastes are bought at as low as Rs. 3 a kilo and up-cycled and woven, and sold up to Rs. 100 a kilo,” points out Anu, a freelance designer and consultant since 1989. A fine arts graduate from College of Art in New Delhi, specialising in sculpture, she did her post-graduation specialising in textile design from National Institute of Design (NID) Ahmedabad. She is currently a visiting faculty for textile design at NID.

Anu has worked as costume designer and art director on Sai Paranjpye’s film Saaz in 1998, her film Papeeha and several TV serials too, but doesn’t like doing it any more. “There are very few people like her to work with now; the level of calibre doesn’t appeal to me,” smiles Anu. She’s also worked on restoring the Udaipur Palace, whose interiors were in shambles after being locked up for about eight years in a legal tangle. A lot of it was converted into hotels. “At design school you’re taught the language of minimalism and clean lines. You can’t apply it to the grandeur of a palace! One space that was overwhelming, for example, was a dining area that had 750 bulbs! It’s a scale you’re not used to.”

Her Retyrement Plan started about four years ago when Anu started feeling the need to make a difference after a 25-year-long freelance consulting career, mostly in the export business, and working on costume and art direction in films. “It’s easy to believe our crafts are dying out because their design is not relevant anymore. As designers we need to step in and make it worthwhile for craftsmen, and make their products suit the market. I’ve worked in the weaving and printing sectors before and have seen that the next generation doesn’t want to continue the parent’s craft. The parents too have seen penury, so they don’t want to pass on their skills to their children.”

A lot of cane weavers in Mumbai are from north-east India. “With a lot of cheap alternatives in furniture coming from South East Asia, they are fading. So I started working with my weavers. Two or three of them work fulltime, and another half a dozen of them work on and off depending on orders and projects.” The name for the line came from a holiday Anu took to a potters’ island in Greece three years ago. A retired American woman had set up a weaving studio for textiles. “It got me thinking, that retirement doesn’t have to be something you dread. You can do all that you kept from doing, make a difference… it’s like going back to where you came from.”

She’s even worked with wastes from screen-printed saris, where there are 20 layers of prints on them! Her products include chairs, tables, Ottomans, tabletop trays and coasters, and cushions with plastic twine tassles! Also, not to miss are the outdoor weather-proof cushions, pouffes, floor cushions. “I find Bengalureans to be very house proud. They want statement pieces. Unlike in Delhi and Mumbai where people will spend obscene amounts on clothing but…” and she shakes her head.

Retyrement Plan products are priced from Rs. 8,500 to Rs. 30,000. They are available till December 31, at The Purple Turtles, #128, 1st Main, Domlur 2nd Stage, Indiranagar. Call 4152 8039.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 9:40:25 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/society/tyred-and-tested/article6693950.ece

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