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They say hostel life will change you for good. For Madhur Sharma, an architecture student in Noida, his days in a hostel inspired him to make a single piece of furniture that can work as a study table, chair, coffee table and more!
“My hostel room was so small that it could not accommodate all the furniture I wanted. I have always been a creative person and this gave me the opportunity to design furniture that could serve many purposes and fit into a corner when not in use,” Madhur tells The Better India (TBI).
The 21-year-old conceptualised the design in his first year, and finalised it two years later. Today, this multi-functional piece of furniture has won many awards and is already sitting in the rooms of eminent designers and architects.
Buy one get 14 free!
What prevents most of us from purchasing beautiful, utilitarian furniture is the price. A basic desk can cost you about Rs 2000 while a lounge chair can go beyond Rs 15,000. Few of us are privileged to splurge on such furniture and so, our rooms remain empty.
“When I was designing this, I had three crucial points in mind: the social factor, the economic factor and the environmental factor. I was just a hostel student and that was my temporary residence. But so many people who live in small apartments compromise on purchasing good furniture because of lack of space. This became my motivation,” Madhur shares.
Many Mumbai residents will agree to this considering that the average apartment size there was about 700 sq feet (in 2018) while the current average apartment in Bengaluru and Delhi is 1200 sq feet—just about the national average. Hyderabad, at 1600 sq feet (in 2018) had the largest average apartment size in metropolitan areas.
Unless you are living alone in such an apartment, the need to ration space and utilise it to the fullest becomes paramount, and Madhur’s furniture design helps you do that.
When arranged as a block, it takes about one square foot of space. That is about the same size as a floor tile. And just as easily, you can turn it into a lounge chair to read a book on, a study table during work hours, a coffee table and just about anything you would like in a room.
Madhur lists the 14 functions as:
- “Z” Shape Chair
- Normal Chair
- Center Table
- Coffee Table
- Settee for Single Person
- Side Table
- Low Floor Sitting for Single Person
- Low Floor Sitting for Double Person
- Partition for Separating Two Workplaces
- Plant Enclosure For Single Pot
- Plant Enclosure For Double Pot
- Television Unit
- Table with Book Storage
This addressed the social factor. The total cost of this piece of furniture is Rs 12,000, so you are spending about Rs 850 on each separate block, and that takes care of the economic aspect. Next up, the environmental factor.
For nature, inspired by nature:
“If one table uses one cubic foot of wood to make, so does a chair, a desk and the bed, much more. This piece of furniture uses just one cubic foot for all of it together. This translates into less stress on the limited resources at our disposal,” the final year architecture student shares.
While it is clear that nature has a huge influence on Madhur, he mentions that he also found inspiration in the human body. “The three crucial joints of the shoulder, pelvis and knees that allow us to sit, stand, walk and bend into different positions became my starting point. These three joints, bolted together by nuts allow my furniture to transform into different shapes,” he says.
Finally, it is also user-friendly. If, say, one block of wood gets damaged, instead of throwing out the whole piece, you can just replace that block. This too helps conserve resources. “It is easy to modify, replace, maintain and transport,” Madhur adds.
Much more than architecture:
His furniture does not exactly toe the line of the expectations of an architecture college. But he went with the flow anyway. In fact, this (ironically) out-of-the-box thinking won him awards in his college, the Apeejay Institute of Technology—School of Architecture & Planning (AIT).
Two years ago, after his prototype was displayed in college exhibitions, fashion designer Payal Jain, architect Nilanjan Bhowal and Vivek Sabherwal, the director of AIT, got in touch with him to understand the design better. They had encouraging reviews to share which pushed Madhur to make more units of this design.
But Madhur hasn’t stopped at that. Since 2018, he has designed 10 more furniture pieces— seven of which are multifunctional.
“My furniture should not be treated as a trivial object but it should be conceived as an artwork which can convey some social message,” he shares with TBI.
As smaller homes become the new norm, multifunctionality, affordability and eco-conscious factors are going to be determining factors. Madhur’s designs are bringing the future of interior designing in the present.
Madhur’s designs are ready to be ordered. You can get in touch with him by email to place your orders. Contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)
All images courtesy of Madhur Sharma.
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