It’s not often that we find design, functionality and sustainability merging together in the space of creation. When we do, it’s cause for celebration. And so it was with Differniture, a sustainably designed range of furniture based out of New Delhi. Aakriti Kumar was fascinated with the endless possibilities that wood as a material has to offer, a fire kindled by her time at Parsons. Her furniture uses reclaimed material, salvaged wood, non-toxic finishes, designed with an element of zero waste. Her conscious effort to reduce the environmental footprint of her creations had us in awe of her work.
Given that wood is the central element around which her designs revolve, Aakriti is constantly on the hunt for wood she can use. “After researching and finding areas that consolidate the wood and put it up for auction, I go out to look for logs that I can use. I also reuse discarded wood from shipping containers and by-products of the automotive industry as well as old wood from floorboards, which are the best kind since they have been naturally seasoned and ready for use” she explains to us.
Aakriti’s designs are heavily inspired by nature; we see this in her Topographic coffee table inspired by terrace farming, and the accentuation of the natural patterns of the wood and it’s rings. For the most part, her design process takes her back and forth ideating through sketching and 3D modeling on the computer, while other designs occur to her by looking at the actual shape and curvature of the raw material.
The backbone of her team are her skilled craftsmen, polishers and carpenters - they determine the manufacturing and prototyping process. Differniture showcases this craft in a most unique light, that coupled with their use of high quality wood and naturally derived oils and waxes is what protects them from the threat of the “fast furniture” industry, so to speak. “The fact that our products are not mass-produced in the thousands changes the outlook, and we encourage our clients to consider customising products for their spaces.” The furniture is also suited to be kept outdoors. Aakriti tells us that the oil she uses is a linseed based oil that is used to protect boats and vessels that are constantly immersed in water.
Most recently, Aakriti worked on a project in Uttarakhand where she designed and built wooden cabins as holiday homes, all with a differniture touch. All the work for this project has been done on site in Uttrakhand using reclaimed materials and locally sourced raw material with the help of local artisans. She strives to create something unique and different for each of her clients - no one project is the same. Immersive projects like these, and their patrons, are a beackon of hope for artists like Aakriti, whose craft is fuelled with sustainable thought and practice.
Too see more of Differniture’s work, check out their catalog here.