Furniture in India has a long and prosperous history, beginning in 1336 with the wood craftsmen of the Vijayanagar Empire. From its earliest days and through the influence of European colonisers, furniture making has always remained an art form, a craft of manipulating materials into beautiful (and comfortable!) creations. But with the advent of urbanisation and industrialisation, furniture has become simply another mass-produced commodity, both in India and around the world. However, independent companies across the country are here to keep the art of furniture alive, and Delhi-based architectural firm Studio Cube is one of them. In their newest series of furniture, ‘Artoxy’, Studio Cube blends traditional Indian concepts with fluid-based art to create unique, one-of-a-kind furniture pieces. Homegrown spoke to Studio Cube’s head architect and designer Kashish Khandelwal about ‘Artoxy’ and the inspirations behind it.
The designer Artoxy pieces are all made of wood and epoxy resin, making them both eco-friendly and long-lasting. “The Artoxy Series blends modern functionality with a quirky aesthetic to deliver cohesive design solutions. It tackles problems associated with conventional wooden furniture; resin-wood is termite- and water-proof, and heat-resistant (it can handle temperatures up to 500 degree Celsius),” says Khandelwal, “This longer life also translates into increased environmental and economic sustainability.”
Each piece in the Artoxy series is created through a combination of art, hand-craftsmanship, and modern technology. Khandelwal came up with the concept as a response to the current mass-produced nature of furniture. “Mass-production is inherently tied to a decreased sense of ‘humanism.’ The design intention, therefore, was to create unique products that felt artisanal – products that could engage with people on a deeper level through their morphology and tactile materiality, thus inspiring a multitude of emotions,” he said. The series’ name, Artoxy, is a portmanteau of the words ‘art and ‘epoxy’. Khandelwal describes its relevance; “It perfectly captures the essence of the product series; the process of creation of the art is regulated by the material limitations of epoxy. The resin sets within a short period of about thirty minutes after it is poured. Each product, as a result, is a unique ‘freeze-frame,’ providing a rare insight into the artist’s mind.”
The broad idea behind the series is to create products inspired by nature that can provide people with a moment of peace and serenity through their art. On the inspiration behind the series, Khandelwal says, “Amidst the deafening hum of twenty-first-century urban life, I find inner peace by engaging with the environment. I’m continually inspired by natural forms and textures, influences that manifest strongly in my work. The Artoxy Series is an artistic investigation into the wonders of the natural world.” Each individual piece in the series alludes to a natural element or phenomenon. The Black Buck, for example, pays homage to the Indian Antelope and is an interpretation of one of Khandelwal’s digital artworks.
Khandelwal’s personal favourite piece is the Transitional. “We refurbished a forty-year-old chair; the decision is reflective of the larger intent to optimise the design process in terms of resource and energy use. Like its name suggests, the Transitional represents the coalescence of two divergent design motifs: a traditional Indian, hand-carved, wooden framework, and a black hole-inspired Artoxy seat. It is meant as a visual commentary on Modernism’s negative impact on indigenous handcraft cultures.”
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