Armed with a quaint design studio in Assam, a mission to rid the world of paper waste and a lovely Instagram aesthetic, Pulp Factory tops the charts when we talk about sustainable design in India. Run by founder and CEO Spriha Chokhani as a “one-woman factory”, Pulp Factory manufactures furniture purely out of Papier Mache. Did we ever think Papier Mache could venture beyond our third-grade art projects and go on to save the world? Spriha makes it possible! At Pulp Factory, furniture is made by using waste paper pulp and a plant-based glue. It is then painted only in natural colours. You’ll find yourself choosing from a range of earthy, rustic colours in chairs, shelves, and table stools among other furniture. All these products are designed and manufactured carefully by individual artists, many by Spriha herself – who does not believe in mass production. With furniture made out of papier mache, everyone’s first question is always, “Can this take my weight?” The answer is yes – twice your weight! The pieces of furniture can take up to 200 kilograms of weight.
Products at Pulp Factory, as Spriha says, resonates Responsible Design. Responsible Design refers simply to the use of design to address social, environmental, economic issues and focuses on a move to move beyond first world consumer demands towards a more holistic and responsible approach to product design that embraces ethical, cultural and humanitarian values. In an age where sustainability needs to be a part of our daily lives, Pulp Factory helps us bring it into our living rooms. Drawing an intersection between environmental responsibility and design reminds us just how important it is to be smart about our aesthetic.
An important initiative that Pulp Factory looks to further is that of making the best out of newspaper waste. Out of the total newspaper waste produced on a daily basis, only 2 million tonnes make it to the waste paper-based mills. 6.5 million becomes a part of the unorganized segregation system. With the simple motto of “Design – Follow – Meaning”, Pulp Factory looks carefully at the social structure and economy of Indian market and uses design to encourage environmental benefits and economic growth. It follows a system of 3 “Re’s”: Restoration, Reinstation, Reestablishment.
Pulp Factory isn’t the first to tap into the sector of sustainable design. Sylvin Studio, “India’s only design label specialised in handcrafted décor products”, makes its products from corrugated cardboard, burlap, and recycled materials. Ublyb, a bangalore-based furniture store furnishes upcycled pine wood in their craft stores and uses it to make their furniture. Similarly, a number of upcoming design studios have made sure to prioritize environmental responsibility and integrate it into their manufacturing methods.
We may not realize it, but a handful of our everyday products harm the environment. When we talk about furniture, simply buying wooden furniture instead of leather won’t do. Even wood stains, paints and furniture glue are intoxicants that are a step back in your effort to go green. It’s time to switch to sustainable design, and Pulp Factory is just the right place to start.
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