This design studio with a penchant for innovation has become a favourite with New Delhi’s top architects in a short time. We find out what makes it so successful
Four years is not a long time to get you to the top of hot favourite lists, or transform whispers of support and encouragement into a groundswell of appreciation and continuous commissions. Even perhaps to win awards. That the Mangrove Collective has managed to do this is much about the deep design roots and far-reaching vision of this bespoke product and furniture design studio. Not to mention the pedigree that it wears, very inconspicuously—it was set up in 2015 as an independent, autonomous extension of New Delhi-based Studio Lotus, one of India’s leading architecture and interior design firms.
Founded by Suman Sharma, Arun Kullu and Vedika Jhunjhunwala—all furniture designers—Mangrove specialises primarily in furniture and product design and production. In the scant years since it has been around, the brand has built a cache of products that showcase a singular ability to bend material, of any sort, to an imaginative vision. It’s an ability that stems from an appreciation of craft, a penchant for experimenting and the capacity to accommodate both technology and artisanal elements in the idea of creation. “We are constantly challenging ourselves to look at processes and products in a new way, combining the rich history of Indian craftsmanship with state-of-the-art technology,” says Suman Sharma, Business Head at Mangrove.
This approach is supplanted by a conscious understanding in measuring the impact that the choices they make have on the environment—the imperatives of using local resources, an awareness of cultural influences and a sensitivity towards heritage and environment. All of which serve to underpin the processes that lead to the final product. All this combines with a “larger understanding of the demands of diverse design environments and an expertise in working with a range of materials”, comprising timber, metal, stone, concrete, a variety of fabrics and indigenous craft. While this wide-ranging canvas of materials is their calling card, Sharma discloses that “brass work is our expertise”. It was the starring metal in their ‘Shunya’ lamp, and is liberally used to create coffee tables, side tables, consoles, bar trolleys and bar counters, even furniture legs. The go-to for upholstery, on the other hand, is natural and synthetic cane. “We use weaving extensively in chairs, sofas and bed backs.”
This skill to combine with technology to mould material into any number of definitively contemporary products has made Mangrove a valuable collaborator for several architects and interior designers. Headlining a long list, along with Studio Lotus, are New Delhi-based Vaishali Kamdar, Iram Sultan, architectural behemoth Studio HBA and Bengaluru-based Praxis Design, among several others.
This democratic process, where craft, design, technology and material work in tandem, is fittingly reflected in the integrated 20,000-square-foot workshop-cum-studio space in Faridabad; it’s open and transparent and designed to enable seamless collaboration. “We have in-house facilities to enable working with multiple materials and skills—from woodwork, to metal work, upholstery, painting and finishing. We also have a section for specialised artisans,” says Sharma. And that’s a good thing too, considering the gamut of work that the firm undertakes, from custom-designing furniture and accessories, to interior fit-outs and accessories, and even working on entire interior design projects.
Clearly, there’s enough to keep the Mangrove Collective busy and buzzing. And for a young firm of creative, committed designers, it’s enough to keep them inventing and experimenting.
NEED TO KNOW
Products: Furniture, home accessories
Materials: Woods, metals, leather, canvas, fabrics, natural and synthetic canes and reeds, stone, concrete
Availability: Place orders through www.mangrovecollective.in; Facebook: www.facebook.com/pg/mangrove.in/about; or Instagram: @mangrovecollective. Alternatively, email firstname.lastname@example.org for the e-catalogue.