What is common between historical monuments like Delhi’s India Gate, Jaisalmer Fort, Qutub Minar, and Jaipur’s Amber Fort, besides their mesmerising beauty? They are all carved from stone, in a style generally found in Europe and the Middle East.
The fact that these iconic structures stand even after centuries proves that stone application is one of the finest and sturdiest architectural materials.
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But sadly, stone structures, that once defined our glorious past, have been replaced by modern construction materials. Stone has become a symbol of the bygone era.
To bring stone crafts back in fashion and reestablish their significance in contemporary homes, Ahmedabad-based Parshva Shah is giving a cosmopolitan spin to the material. Founder of Artemis Cast Stone, Parshva uses cast stone technology and upcycles waste stone dust to make eco-friendly architectural products.
The five-year-old company offers a wide range of products, which include:
- Landscape elements: Planters and pots
- Home Decor: Wall hangings, clocks, pen stands, bathroom accessories
- Furniture items: Benches, tables, stools, as well as classical cast stone gazebos and classical gazebo alcoves
- Lighting décor and fixtures
- Stone-clad facades to walls or column surfaces
- Custom-made products: benches, stools, nameplates, breeze block facades, etc
Parshva, a Civil Engineer, procures waste stone dust from Stone Processing Centers and Quarries. It is generated while processing natural-cut stone.
“We make sustainable products from a mix of materials, 40 per cent of which is stone dust. We offer a blend of colours, textures, and patterns that give a luxury touch to India’s traditional material. They are fire-proof, water-proof, and provide a natural cooling system,” Parshva tells The Better India.
Since the inception of the company, Parshva claims to have upcycled 120 tonnes of stone dust into intricately crafted and handmade products.
This process not only promotes upcycling but also curbs air pollution, something that India has been grappling with for a long time.
“Crushing stone leads to severe dust pollution, which affects ambient air quality and human health. Cast stone technology can convert a quarry’s liability into an asset in the architectural world while protecting the environment,” the 28-year-old adds.
Apart from its eco-friendly properties and heritage value, the company also empowers local artisans and preserves India’s ancestral craftsmanship.
Features & Benefits of Stone-Based Products
From making beautiful and sturdy pot planters, beautiful furniture, home decor items to wall claddings, and facades as sun control screens, Parshva designs all his products such that they last for over 20 years.
When compared to concrete-based items, stone is lighter and cheaper, but, at the same time, stronger than ceramic or clay.
Through the lovely designs, the company dispels the notion that stone-based products cannot be funky, creative, colourful or quirky.
“We give an option of multiple colours, shapes, and textures. Plus, all our products are weather-proof and can survive heavy rains and storms. Since they are thermal-conducive, they provide natural cooling inside the house or building,” he explains.
As for the cost, it varies from product to product, but a majority of times, it cheaper than its counterpart, “Even if slightly expensive, it is better to upcycle rather than use a factory-processed product,” he assures.
It All Started With A Life-Changing Trip
Parshva was pursuing his Bachelors in Technology in civil construction from CEPT University in Gujarat in 2014. On a study trip to different parts of the state, he saw heaps of dust accumulated on the roads that was generated from stone quarries.
He couldn’t help but think about the health of the families residing close to the quarries. On further research, he learned that stone dust also affected agricultural fields and groundwater levels.
That’s when the idea of repurposing stone came to him. He even centred his thesis on this issue and made bricks from stone dust.
To refine his practical knowledge and skills, he became a part of Venture Studio (VS), an incubation centre. There, he experimented with various verticals and products like lamps, planters, wall claddings, and so on, using the modular compressed stabilisation method.
During this time, Parshva found his true calling and decided to start his firm. It wasn’t an easy decision, considering his lack of knowledge about the market.
In his words, “There was a lot of fear, limitations, and hesitations, but I enjoyed making products out of waste. There is a sense of purpose and satisfaction that comes with working in harmony with nature. Even after so many years, the passion for my work hasn’t reduced one bit.”
In 2015, Parshva launched his company with seed funding from his incubation centre. He started with three artisans, and today, his staff has increased to 17.
Parshva had to defy several pre-conceived notions, right from pricing, quality assurance to the product performance, to form a strong client base.
He emphasised ecological designs instead of merely pushing products to the market. Along the way, he also learned to justify the cost with the quality and product’s life span.
Most of his clients include architects, landscape designers, product designers and interior designers. Some also include walk-in customers at the company’s display space in Ahmedabad. His works mostly center around housing, commercial, industrial, and administrative spaces.
Another challenge was finding artisans who would remain with the company.
“We provide skill training to artisans in our workshops and teach them everything, right from understanding the raw materials to churning out aesthetic items with minimal inputs from machines. So, if an artisan leaves, it is a tedious task to employ another and upgrade their skills. We did face some hurdles in the beginning, but now, things are stable,” shares Parshva.
Amidst all the problems, Parshva has managed to create his niche.
When asked what kept him going, he says, “The learning curve never stops and evolves with every product. It has been a really exciting journey. I am constantly learning something new about products, designs, clients, and the markets every day. This helps me grow professionally.”
With people like Parshva, the construction and housing industry in India is set to amend its lifestyle and accommodate the environment, and that is a concrete step towards a greener future.
Get in touch with Artemis Cast Stone here.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)