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Wood Upholstery Chaise Front

Differniture experiments with wood grains, creates textures, patterns and weaves, giving an art-like quality to its furniture. Here we see “Wood Upholstery chair” by the studio.

A Reclaimed Pine Bookchair

Wooden floor boards peeled off from old homes, metal frames from junkyards, trees fallen in storms and dissembled shipping containers, are all sculpted into furniture. The ‘Bookchair’ in this picture is made from reclaimed pine wood from shipping yards.

Fire + Ice

Shards of a glass pane shattered in Differniture studio were later embedded on a coffee table titled ‘Fire and Ice’.

Fire + Ice Detailing

Differniture follows sustainable design practices of creating minimal waste and using non-toxic products.

A Collection of Lamps

At Differniture, colours are in subtle play. These are brought by various techniques in cutting grains of the wood and different finishes.

Reclaimed Pine Ripple Table Detailing.

A sculptural quality is inherent in all products of at Differniture and reinstates its founder Aakriti Kumar’s credo - form and function.

Plywood Scrap Herringbone Detailing

Meticulous layering and lacing of plywood is seen in early works of Differniture. Here we see herringbone detail on a table top created from plywood scrap.

Park bench

Instead of polyurethane finish which is toxic and forms a plastic like layer on top, oils are used for outdoor furniture. They are absorbed in the wood and make the wood stronger.

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Workspace 09 Jun 2017

Differniture – Sculptural Objects as Sustainable Furniture for today

The furniture created at Delhi-based design studio, Differniture, carries an artistic and sculptural quality that exemplifies its founder Aakriti Kumar’s credo - form and function. In her early work, somewhat inspired by Charles and Ray Eames, she built furniture by meticulous layering and lacing of plywood. Her recent work is more about the drama of wood grains, textures, patterns and weaves, all exhibiting a sculpture-like quality inherent to all that is built at Differniture. But the core philosophy of her practice—more intangible and invisible—is about her belief in sustainable design practice, consciousness in creating minimal waste, and using non-toxic products.

Sustainable model of working is fraught with uncertainties and drastically differs from a more streamlined traditional setup. Being sustainable requires that each step of a process be re-thought starting from the sourcing of raw materials. “I do not want to cut my trees,” said Aakriti. So the usual treaded path of importing logs—well seasoned, cut to desired size and shape—is given up for an exhausting ordeal of finding and reclaiming old materials.

Wood Upholstery Chaise Front

Differniture experiments with wood grains, creates textures, patterns and weaves, giving an art-like quality to its furniture. Here we see “Wood Upholstery chair” by the studio.

Over time, however, the leg work has reduced and treasure troves identified, like the shipping junkyard which is a trusted source of disassembled shipping containers, each 10-12 feet long, left to be sold for scrap. “If you have an eye for it, you can really pick out some good material from the yards,” she said.  

Even when a glass pane was shattered in the Differniture studio, the shards were stored away in a box for months before they found themselves embedded into the studio’s recent creation, a coffee table titled ‘Fire and Ice’.

The most crucial step in a design process that follows the raw-material procurement is the redesigning of the salvaged materials. Wooden floor boards peeled off from old homes, metal frames from junkyards and trees fallen in storms are all sculpted into furniture. Usually, Aakriti doesn’t keep a timeline to this process. At times, logs of wood and other materials are kept in the studio for months.

A Reclaimed Pine Bookchair

Wooden floor boards peeled off from old homes, metal frames from junkyards, trees fallen in storms and dissembled shipping containers, are all sculpted into furniture. The ‘Bookchair’ in this picture is made from reclaimed pine wood from shipping yards.

Familiarity eventually imprints on the conscious, and soon all materials find their place in the designed products. Even when a glass pane was shattered in the Differniture studio, the shards were stored away in a box for months before they found themselves embedded into the studio’s recent creation, a coffee table titled ‘Fire and Ice’. “I am really proud of how the piece has come out. Throughout the day the cracks in the glass glisten and colours change with the lights of the day,” said Aakriti.

Fire + Ice

Shards of a glass pane shattered in Differniture studio were later embedded on a coffee table titled ‘Fire and Ice’.

Fire + Ice Detailing

Differniture follows sustainable design practices of creating minimal waste and using non-toxic products.

Wooden floor boards peeled off from old homes, metal frames from junkyards and trees fallen in storms are all sculpted into furniture.

At Differniture, colours are in subtle play. The choice of materials of this 27-year-old designer has kept the studio’s palette to wooden and metallic. She agrees that at a glance, her studio may seem monotone but she says that if you look closely you see the variations, grains and finishes are different; some are lighter and some are darker. These subtle variations are brought by cutting the wood in different ways.

A Collection of Lamps

At Differniture, colours are in subtle play. These are brought by various techniques in cutting grains of the wood and different finishes.

Cutting at a 90-degree angle to the grain (called ‘end grain’) produces highly aesthetic wood with character, colour and durability. The edge and face grain expose different qualities and colour shades. “There is a lot of complexity within this very short range of browns and beige of the wood,” she says.  A more noticeable variation in the colour is created by oils used for finishing. These leave a slight tint, a yellowish colour.

Reclaimed Pine Ripple Table Detailing.

A sculptural quality is inherent in all products of at Differniture and reinstates its founder Aakriti Kumar’s credo - form and function.

Aakriti is not averse to using colours once she finds a sustainable way to use them. For now, Differniture uses non-toxic products only, like beeswax, canola wax and finishing oils. Toxic finishers like polyurethane or PU that is a norm in the industry are a strict no.

Plywood Scrap Herringbone Detailing

Meticulous layering and lacing of plywood is seen in early works of Differniture. Here we see herringbone detail on a table top created from plywood scrap.

“They form a plastic-like layer on top that flakes off when there is too much water, plus they are toxic and make the wood look so fake and plastic,” she said. Plastic is one material Aakriti swears to never use in her work. “For my outdoor furniture, I use oil that’s used for oiling boats. The oil seeps into the wood and makes it water resistant. Instead of PU coat that you spray on top, the oils are absorbed in the wood and make the wood stronger,” she explained. Initial customers didn’t warm up to the idea of natural finishes, but Aakriti was determined that PU cannot be a part of her practice.

Eventually, they came around.

Park bench

Instead of polyurethane finish which is toxic and forms a plastic like layer on top, oils are used for outdoor furniture. They are absorbed in the wood and make the wood stronger.

 “Hopefully people will understand the importance of sustainable living. I have definitely seen a change in past two years in India and I feel that we are headed in the right direction,” she says.