When functionality meets innovation

Western Hemlock, a Canadian wood species, was used as it makes the product portable and entices the viewer to touch and feel it.

The percentage of urban population in India, which currently stands at 35%, is rapidly increasingly and will continue to rise exponentially. This in turn creates tremendous pressure on space.

Urban planners are constantly looking at ways to mitigate the ill effects of crowding and all the attendant problems that come along with living in such cramped spaces.

Furniture might not be top on the priority, but it is definitely something that is worth applying one’s mind to. Interior designers are now focusing their attention on modifying furniture as a way to mitigate such space constraints inside a home or office.

Madhur Sharma, a 21-year-old student of architecture from the Apeejay Institute of Technology, School of Architecture and Planning in Greater Noida, found his hostel room was so small that it could not accommodate all the furniture he wanted.

‘Necessity is the mother of invention’, goes the adage. Being of a creative bend, Madhur saw this as an opportunity to set about designing furniture that could serve many purposes.

In his first year, encouraged by the faculty at the Architecture School, Madhur conceptualised the design of R.poid (Responsive Anthropoid), the wood ‘cube’ that transforms itself into 14 types of furniture.

The intention was to create a product for urban users that could provide maximum functions with minimum space requirement. The eventual design has achieved multi-functionality and space efficiency – a study table, chair and coffee table that fits into a corner when not in use.

Design concept

Responsive anthropoid has evolved from an analogy between human body with its bending joints to its overall structure and bending lines. The human body comprises of three joints longitudinally – at the shoulders, pelvis and knees.

Madhur’s product has three turning points placed accordingly. The functions are influenced by the father and child relationship, as the father moulds himself for the child to play with him and comfort him.

“Similarly, our product flexes itself to comfort the user,” says Madhur. The sleek battens of 35x45x550 mm resemble the bones of the human skeletal system, reducing the visual weight and augmenting workability.

“Wood has a good strength-to-weight ratio, making the product portable. The product appeals to the five senses and is visually very attractive and a perfect example of beauty in simplicity,” gushes Madhur.

Western Hemlock, a Canadian wood species, was used as it has very nice grains and the wood, which has good strength-to-weight ratio, makes the product portable user-friendly and entices the viewer to touch and feel it.

Smooth curved joints and its modular nature is space efficient, dynamic and adapts to various moods of man and his requirements by bending into different forms. In today’s world of singular people, it is a soul mate and travel companion, enhancing life and becoming a part of the family.

In several ways it is just like a Rubik’s cube, generating a sense of play. It is interactive with scope for further exploration and creativity – the user can work permutations and combinations and create a design of his/her own.

Future plans

As sustainability is the main aspect of Madhur’s designs, he follows the basic principal that furniture should not be designed just as a functional strategy but as a comprehensive part of nature.

Rather than environmental and economical sustainability, his aim is to develop the idea of social acceptance among the users for sustainable and multi-functional furniture.

R.poid was Madhur’s first experience. Subsequently, he has designed 10 more furniture pieces, seven of which are multi-functional. Shape-transformable furniture with some surprising character in aesthetics and functionality is his first preference.

Minimum use of material with maximum shape transformation is the USP and the hallmark of all his furniture designs. This multi-functional piece of furniture has won many awards including the ‘A3 Foundation Interior Design Award’ (2018-19) and Smart Habitat Foundation Award (2019-20), and is already gracing the rooms of eminent designers and architects.

The designer (Madhur) credits much of his work to the support and knowledge given by the faculty of the institute and his mentors who helped fine-tune and hone his skills and channel them into out-of-the-box thinking.

You may write to him at madhursharma4599@gmail.com

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