Ankit Kumar Changawala from Veer Narmad South Gujarat University patented India’s first bamboo chair, made from locally sourced ‘Bambusa’ bamboo.

This variety of bamboo is sturdy and ideal for converting into furniture. However, not many have fully harnessed the material’s potential.

Being one of the few individuals to utilise the material to its fullest extent, Ankit from Surat says he had always wanted to pursue design. So when he got the opportunity to attend the World Bamboo Workshop in Manipur, he eagerly accepted.

After attending the workshop, he could see the untapped potential in bamboo and how it was being wasted. “Additionally, I discovered a community of bamboo artisans whose craft was fading,” he says.

“I learned that the younger generations of these craftsmen were reluctant to continue the tradition as they saw no future in bamboo,” he adds. By connecting the dots of the fading art of bamboo craftsmen and the untapped potential of bamboo, he conceived his venture.

In 2020, while stuck at home due to a pandemic-induced lockdown, Ankit decided “to create daily-use furniture with modern designs to appeal to urban consumers.”

In 2021, Ankit and some of his students dedicated their time and designed a chair, which was a blend of modern design and sustainability.

He adds that he used a native variety because he wanted to keep the cost of the chair affordable and cheap.

The sturdy chair can support weights exceeding 150 kg and has a lifespan of up to 20 years. It is polished with natural oils and treated to repel insects.

Besides making their design public knowledge, there was another reason why Ankit got the chair patented. “The main reason behind it was to showcase the potential of native bamboo species to the world. Once my design got patented, it generated a conversation among people about the potential of bamboo,” he says.

Ankit is currently developing a proposal for the university to start a programme where people can learn chair-making and work together with him to make more furniture from bamboo.