ART Life & Style

This Madurai architect creates art out of trashed tyres

At the 20th milestone from Madurai on the Chennai highway, architect N Umar Farook is busy giving second life to discarded tyres of all sizes. His small workshop under a tin shed is now filled with 50 products he created during the lockdown. Customers have started placing orders, he says, incredulous at how a pandemic helped him to live his dream.

This Madurai architect creates art out of trashed tyres

After getting his architecture degree Umar was busy with designing restaurants, hotels and houses in Melur, his native place. A wish to help the environment stayed in his mind from his college days. “I grew up in a house close to the highway and saw enough worn-out non-biodegradable tyres dumped in landfills. I always felt there should be a way to repurpose them.”

When COVID-19 kept him indoors the last few months, the 25-year-old chose to turn tyres into clocks, mirrors, fire-extinguisher holders, playground equipment such as swings, slides and see-saws; and furniture including tables, chair seats, sofa sets and planters in different shapes. As roads, markets and businesses fell silent, Umar felt it was the right time to start turning his dream into reality. And so Umar went around collecting discarded tyres from wherever he found them — by the roadside, in junkyards or people’s backyards.

This Madurai architect creates art out of trashed tyres

A creative mind sees beauty in junk and with little help from the internet, Umar quickly got into cleaning, cutting and painting the tyres to build a catalogue of products. “It is a low investment start-up and the returns are already showing. So far I have orders for punching bags, swings, flower holders and customised seating arrangements.”

This Madurai architect creates art out of trashed tyres

Umar made all the samples himself but is now looking at employing help depending on the orders. His little workshop, where he makes and displays the items, peeps out like a colourful fun space when you turn in towards Sivagangai off the Melur Main Road. “I used oil paints on the tyres as they are long lasting and look bright,” he says.

The creative spot is new on this stretch of road and is arousing people’s curiosity. Ever since the lockdown was lifted many locals and travellers have stopped by, he says, glad that his small-scale environment-friendly effort is getting noticed. “Upcycling is a hot trend in bigger metros. In small places like ours, it is encouraging to see people putting on their green glasses.”

This Madurai architect creates art out of trashed tyres

Umar, who runs his own architecture firm, is now enthusiastic about extending his portfolio. He says he wants to make the public parks look different and is building a list of spaces in and around Madurai where his creative installations, seats or play equipment could be put up. “When ones sees trash in a different light the moment is overwhelming and emotional.”

This Madurai architect creates art out of trashed tyres

Saying he wants to lend his imagination and innovation to as many public spaces as possible because COVID-19 has shifted the focus to purposeful living, Umar says “What better way to do so than the artistic upcycling of the wheels of progress?”

Umar Farook can be contacted on 9600278994

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Printable version | Oct 25, 2020 11:18:36 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/madurai-architect-has-used-the-lockdown-to-upcycle-discarded-tyres/article32667015.ece

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