Vrinda Mathur. Tiny/Petite. Delicate. Fun. Feisty. In a nut shell – Bloody Dynamite! In every way and I mean that in a good way. She is ultra feminine but don’t let that tiny bird like grace fool you – she is tough as nails and is not afraid to tell it like it is. The first thing I noticed about her was her delicate grace. And then she started talking about her work…
I met Vrinda at the Beach House Project in march last month at an idyllic week long residency in Fort Kochi. You can read about that trip here. One week together can get a bunch of people quite close quite fast. And that is exactly what happened. She is next in my series of Effortless Friendships. Read on to find out more about her.
What did you study in college?
I studied Lifestyle Accessory Design at National Institute of Fashion Technology in New Delhi, India
What made you pick product design?
Growing up, I had the fortune to be involved with crafts and crafts folk in general, owing to my parents furniture manufacturing business. My interest in the arts was nurtured both at home and throughout school which finally manifested in college through a course in lifestyle product design. I always enjoyed working on larger products such as lighting and furniture over smaller home decor products. With time and good fortune, I was able to take my learnings onto a bigger platform through my business.
What made you expand from furniture design to include space design along with architecture?
Studio Wood came into being as a collaborative project between varied design enthusiasts, ranging from an architect, to a spatial expert and myself. As co-founders of the company, we learnt from each other and contributed to different fields, out of our academic qualifications to promote a more conducive process and atmosphere at the studio. As our time at the grew, our services grew as well. 3 years down and we design everything from furniture to homes to offices, restaurants and even food trucks!
What is your company called and why?
Since we started primarily as a furniture design studio, the name is self-explanatory: A studio that works with wood. ☺
Could you share a typical work day with us?
A typical day at work is always bright and happy, I recently built a brand new studio with all things Studio Wood, white brick, bright pastel blues and lots of plants and art all around. Mornings usually start with emails, follow ups and a round up of social media from the day before and could delve into possibly anything; sitting at my desk or site visits, sourcing trips, workshop visits, vendor coordination and so on. If I am at the studio the entire day then I love to spend time doing cleaning chores and tidying each spot from time to time.
What is your design process/thinking/philosophy?
I try to follow a process because I feel that keeps the motivation up at all times and when you work for yourself it’s good to make it strict for yourself at times. Whether it’s a piece of furniture or a new space, I like to put down my thoughts on paper through key words, mind maps, doodles, highlights. Once I think a design clicks, I brainstorm with the team for feedback and suggestions. The design may even travel from me to another member of the team so they can work on it from a completely new approach. Once the designs are finalized we work on the design detailing, 3D modeling and finally execution.
Tell us about the wall you guys are painting outside your office?
Our studio is located in Kishangarh, an urban village near Vasant Kunj which is a fairly posh locality in New Delhi. The village hosts a dynamic population of locals, foreign nationals and individuals from across the country as well due to low rents and connectivity with the rest of the city. On a ravaged road, about 200 meters from the main road that connects to the International Airport, what more? We have a dumping ground right opposite our studio so one can only imagine the view we have. However, this is not how the space was intended to be and as young and restless designers, we thought of bringing a change in the space we spend over 8 hours in a day. In order to do so we started a campaign called “YOUFORUS”
Where the village is the ‘US’ and we are the ‘YOU’. Under this campaign we will be working on a couple of activities in and around the village such as cleanliness drives, educating the population about their surroundings and so on. Our first step was to stir a conversation amongst the locals and from there came the idea of mapping the village down on our studio facade.
After weeks of research, conceptualization and extensive google earth-ing, we charted out all the blocks and buildings, galis, small-time vendors and shops of Kishangarh and started chalking down the map on our wall spanning across 400 Sq.ft area
With lime green building blocks painted in an isometric fashion, streets in a charcoal grey, the project is now nearing completion after 3 long months.
What sets your work apart from another designer?
My work with Studio Wood has been one of a kind on a personal and professional level. I try to approach each new project/product with a fresh thought process in order to keep it more challenging from a vision and work point of view.
Each piece is an amalgamation of inspirations of different times, thoughts, ideas or even people I meet which automatically makes the starting point of my process unique. Adding to that, the product is built block by block on paper through numerous brainstorming sessions with the team, prototyping on the software generating forms, mixing materials and color palettes.
What are some of the hurdles you face as a young business?
As young entrepreneurs in the creative industry I have faced lots of challenges, big and small. Everything about owning a business and running one was completely alien to me. As we started we faced challenges regarding contracts, project execution, timelines and fees of course. I learnt on the job and found solutions to most of the aforementioned problems. Now, three years down the line, I think I have matured as a business owner and am slowly learning the tricks of the trade. Most important lesson is to know when to say yes and also when to say no!
What is the next step you see for your business? Expansion plans?
Oh! I have big dreams for 2017, I am working towards taking our furniture business online and seeing it in more homes across India and may be even across the globe. The idea is to keep dreaming, keep doing and enjoy the little successes and failures on the way.
Fav drink/ movie/book/go to place?
I love my elaichi tea by day and rum and coke by night 😉
Movie – I love watching all movies, filled with love, romance and lots of cheese. Don’t ask me names please!
Book – One book I enjoyed reading was the ‘Mafia Queens of Mumbai’ by Hussain Zaidi and also short stories by ‘Sadat Hassan Manto’ which I am currently reading.