In conversation with Farzin Adenwalla of Bombay Atelier, understanding her choice of self expression through furniture and product design.
Hailing from small town New Zealand, Farzin has the exuberance of a child, absorbing every detail she sees around her. Her fascination with spaces started young during playtime with lego blocks and tree houses, which soon developed into a serious interest as she experienced large structures being built and lived in. Studying interior architecture and design was an effortless decision. “After graduation, I got offered a job with the architect Rahul Mehrotra and basically decided to give it a go.”
For Farzin, Bombay Atelier has always been a balance between experimentation, design and function.An ode to the Maximum City that has always inspired the flâneur in her. She loves to work closely with her artisans, who were initially hard to find. “They all had a set industrial mindset, most of them were not open, and were not really interested to listen to a kid about doing something different. I think being a female in this environment was also surprising to many of them.” She found like minded ones who understood what she sought through sheer persistence, and most continue to work with her till this day. Farzin does not mind the gruffness of a dusty workshop, the unbearable heat and messy sheds - it must be some sort of a blind love, for she only has eyes for her furniture designs coming to life.
“I always wanted to work on the spaces we interact with, live with, touch and sleep on. Our buildings, our walls and every piece of furniture is an extension of ourselves - we live through it every single day - it represents us and forms an integral part of our life. This inspires me.”
She strongly believes in the human assertion that unknowingly ends up lending a personality to the space around. Farzin dwells on nostalgia, blending elements from the Indian way of life to her characteristic modernist approach. The result is a Bombay dream personified - exquisitely made tables with incense stick legs, chairs with the regality of a crow and a stool borrowing the winnow design for a seat. We sense a distinct sobriety in her approach, for “designs need to be practical, else people will not buy.”
Farzin has always been very interested in human body and its relations to objects around us. Through Bombay Atelier, she embarks on a mission almost poetic, to help us rediscover ways to explore our surroundings through our five senses. By choosing to live with these objects, we humanize them and allow them to tell our story. Farzin is working towards drawing a straight line out of this medley of complex emotions, blending the beauty of muscle movements with a metal chair with say, a matte black finish. She pushes her creative boundaries to explore holistic product design, and considers this as a process of evolution.
Farzin is interested in working across a range of collaborative projects - involving technology, new material and new processes with her existing craft. Excited with the prospect of exploring India’s hidden wealth of handicrafts, she is working towards getting craftspeople, engineers and designers on the same platform and build beautiful functional objects of daily purpose. “One of my latest ones is inspired by the play of light, and I work on ensuring that my design evokes the same emotion in you, and in everyone who experiences the product.”
An observer, she loves her little vantage point to scan this bustling city for the quirks and commonplace eccentricities that we now take for granted. No detail is considered too small, no color considered too unimportant. Taking the world in with a generous swig, she feels deeply and simply creates, as a release. Every piece of Bombay Atelier furniture is an emotional outburst, given shape through the fiery furnace of a smithy - structured and built to last.
The studio has received significant attention from art and decor magazines. It enjoys the patronage of some of the richest spaces in the city. Content yet with a strong desire to hustle, Farzin continues to explore her design style as a language, and works towards fine tuning her message by adding substance to each of the products that see the light of day.
Written by Sushrut Munje
Photographed by Blake D'Silva
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