Making Space with Studio Mumbai
TLmag caught up with Studio Mumbai’s founder Bijoy Jain to talk about his new series of hand-made furniture at MANIERA Gallery, the language of materials and the intrinsic spirit of his design process.
Founded in 2005, Studio Mumbai has developed a body of work which, at its core, is based on and around its ongoing process of refinement and study in material, form and function. With a production model that is made up of a small team, including carpenters and stonemasons, the majority of Studio Mumbai’s projects are houses located locally (in India), and a number of their projects have achieved international renown — with some pieces having been acquired by institutions such as SFMOMA, LACMA, MAAS and Centre Pompidou. To architect and founder Bijoy Jain, every work revolves around making space, and sees the final result as a recording, or snapshot, of the instinctive decision or motivation to make it: “The practice of architecture is about making space, all these processes are included within it. Making furniture is like making a building: it is all the same spirit.”
Because of its use of natural pigments, processes and rudimentary materials like stone, brick and cow dung as well as softer materials like textile, glass and Japanese washi paper, Studio Mumbai’s newest series is often described as a harmonious mix of eastern and western influences, and a testament to traditional and modern craft-making. However, these are not the main qualities that Bijoy focuses on: “ I am interested in the ambiguity, the anomalous quality of materials that can be all these different expressions at the same time, without having to place them into categories.”
Central to Bijoy’s practice is his a-priory hierarchal system, meaning that his process doesn’t give any material, form or function priority over another. It is because of this system that he and the studio have no focus on particular materials or methodologies, but are open to all materials available. The idea of discoveries and learning is the drive behind these practices and processes and provokes further investigations and inspirations. One of the discoveries that Bijoy was most excited by, took place when they were cutting stone for the stone chair, as he found that by subtracting the material and increasing its surface area, it catches more light and thus becomes more luminous.“Ancient Greeks and Romans created Architecture and in this phenomenon, one can understand an entire lineage of stone and how it has evolved over centuries”.
Made out of universal materials that can be found nearly anywhere in the world, the new hand-made furniture series on view at MANIERA gallery includes a daybed, console, lamp, bench, folding screen and a set of chairs. They are not hand-made as a result of a so-called nostalgic idea of working by hand but comes from a strong ideal of being effective and immediate with the way rudimental materials can be manipulated — making industrial processes unnecessary. Focusing in on these materials and their possible modulations, Bijoy’s close collaboration with local and specialised craftsmen has led to the understanding of the language of his chosen materials (like stone).“When you engage with someone who works with stone, be it across continents, their language of communication is the material itself…” — he explains — “…They can understand each other through how they interact with the material, the expression might be varied, the core relationship remains the same.”
Studio Mumbai’s exhibition at MANIERA Gallery will be on view until August 24th 2019.
Cover Photo: Bijoy Jain by Jef Jacobs.