Sunday, August 20, 2017

Elder Friendly Home Interior Design

This subject has been close to my heart and I had written this article a long time ago. Glad to announce that the article was featured in Deccan Herald last Friday.
I have been of a firm opinion that Interior design is not just about the woodwork nor the decor but really about defining the life and lifestyle of the residing family. Making one's home elder friendly through intelligent, insightful and practical design is one such area where the real value of residential Interior Design stands out.
The detailed article is available at http://www.deccanherald.com/content/627433/make-your-home-safe-elderly.html
Do read and share as this is something that everyone who has an elderly person at home should know.

Cheers

Nandita

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Acrylic Versus Hi Gloss Laminate Versus Duco– Which one to use for that perfect Hi Gloss finish for your Modular Kitchen, Wardrobe and other Furniture

I have been getting a number of questions around Acrylic versus Laminate finish, where to buy Acrylic Laminates in Bangalore and how to use them for Modular Kitchen & Wardrobe Shutter construction, hence thought of penning this down as a dedicated post.

Even before we get into a discussion on Acrylic versus Laminate Versus Paint its important to step back and understand what the discussion “really” is about. What I have understood from customer interactions is that when they say that they need an Acrylic finish what they really mean is that they are looking for a “Hi Gloss” Finish.

A Hi Gloss finish can ultimately be delivered via using acrylic, laminate, Duco Paint, UV Coating, PU Paint etc. etc. and, mind you, none of the above techniques are superior or inferior than the other. The usage of one over the other really depends on the application (Kitchen or the Wardrobe, or the Cot or somewhere else…), the design (whether the surface is plane or curved), the level of maintenance that the user can manage and finally the choice of colour and whether the specific colour that the customer desires is available in the chosen finish.

With that preamble let us now look at the characteristics and suitability of each finish

1. Acrylic: 

This is sold either as 1 mm sheet that can be stuck on top of MDF/ Ply or as readymade 18mm board, pre-laminated with the 1mm acrylic sheet. Modular vendors cut these boards to the required size, apply the edge bands in matching colour and deliver the finished shutter to end customers/ designers. The thing to note here is that both Acrylic sheets and Pre laminated acrylic boards available in Bangalore are direct imports, usually from China, and none of the regular brands in India (Greenply, Century, Euro etc.) produce these. Hence the sourcing and sale of acrylic based products is largely unorganized with really no standard pricing. You will hence find prices of the finished shutters ranging from 600 per sqft all the way to 1400psft in the market with little or no marked difference in the product.
That said, acrylic gives a great hi gloss finish especially when the shutters are factory made from pre-laminated boards. Pasting of acrylic sheets on board on site is not recommended as this leads to waviness due to non-uniformity of the surface of the board or of the layer of adhesive.

Application & Use

In terms of its application, acrylic can be used only for plane/ straight line applications such as Kitchen and Wardrobe shutters. It cannot be used for profiled shutters nor in other applications such as TV Units/ Cots etc.
From a maintenance perspective like any other glossy surface Acrylic tends to catch finger marks as well as scratches. Its scratch resistance is however higher than that of regular Hi Gloss Laminate.

Colour Shade Availability 

Acrylic is available in limited colours and the shade book of each vendor varies – hence it is quite an effort in case you are particular about the specific colour you want

2. Hi Gloss Laminates: 

These are similar to regular laminates but with a Hi Gloss finish. They are available from all the standard laminate manufacturers in India, some of them offer two varieties – the standard range and the hi scratch resistant range. In addition, the colour option availability is fairly exhaustive.
Here again it is best to go for factory made shutters as waviness is a standard issue in all Hi Gloss surfaces. At the same time, on site pasting is possible with Hi Gloss Laminates as carpenters are conversant in its use. Care needs to be taken to apply a 4 mm MDF sheet on top of ply to minimize the waviness. Also in case of shutters made on site the shutter size should be limited to 4 feet as longer shutters may bend due to the difference in expansion coefficients of ply, mdf and the laminate sandwitched together.

Application & Use

Due to the relative ease of use, cost & availability Hi Gloss Laminates can be used in a variety of application from Kitchen Shutters, Wardrobe shutters to Wall Paneling etc. When using for making shutters take care to find the matching edge bands so that the edges can be seamless. Matching edge bands are NOT available for the entire range and personally that has been one of my biggest complaints with the laminate manufacturers.
Also, as with Acrylic, the use of Hi Gloss laminates is limited to plane/ straight line applications. Hi Gloss Laminates do catch finger marks as well as scratches like other hi gloss surfaces. The Hi Scratch resistance variety is preferable but it is available in limited colour shades

3. Duco Paint: 

Duco is the most versatile method of achieving a hi gloss finish. It is the same paint that is used for painting cars and hence works great on angular, non straight line & curved surfaces. While Duco can be sprayed on well prepared & smoothened Plywood, it is easier done on plane MDF. Applicators hence insist on pasting a thin MDF sheet on Ply go get a smooth finish without having to do as much preparation. On the other hand, the “Glossiness” of Duco is lower than that of Acrylic or Hi Gloss Laminate. Duco also tends to crack up along the joints, it is hence best to minimize the number of joints in the furniture or hide them under the MDF packing or via a bit of smart design

Application & Use:

Due to its versatility Duco can be used for most applications including cots, book shelves, partitions, shutters and wall panels. However, Duco is not recommended in furniture & spaces that see hi traffic such as the Kitchen & Wardrobes. This is because even with a small hit or scratch the paint peels off and over time this results in an unkempt look.

Colour Shade Availability

Since Duco is a type of paint, it is available in almost infinite colours. You even get metallic shades that can be quite unique but need a fair amount of judgement - more around where NOT to use than where to.


That covers I guess, as always would welcome your comments, questions, suggestions & inputs

Signing off





Friday, July 14, 2017

Organised furniture retail and the changing role of the Interior Designer

My article on whether to build furniture or to buy it from the market and how organised furniture retail will change the role of the Interior Designer published in the Bangalore edition of Deccan Herald today.

Here is the link to the article on Deccanherald.com http://www.deccanherald.com/content/622540/how-do-you-like-your.html

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

www.thestudiobangalore relaunched: The new destination for Turnkey Home Interiors, Modular Kitchens & Wardrobes in Bangalore

Exited to announce that after 6 months of work we launched the new website for The Studio. For those of you who are new to this blog The Studio is my own venture offering Customised Turnkey Home Interiors, Modular Kitchens & Wardrobes across Bangalore. The new website consolidates the 3 offerings from The Studio under a single umbrella (earlier we had 2 separate websites – one each for Kitchens & Wardrobes) to make it easier for customers to get a complete picture.

We also have a refreshed new logo which is a combination of the Ganesha (auspiciousness) & the Swastika (beginning) signifying an auspicious new beginning:  a new home is really a beginning

Happy to get your feedback on the website – do check in at https://www.thestudiobangalore.com

Cheers

Nandita

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Furniture for Home Interiors – The Build versus Buy dilemma & the changing role of the Interior Designer.

With the unorganized furniture retail market in India touching approx. $20 Billion, early bird online furniture retailers like Pepperfry, Urban Ladder as well as organized furniture retailers such as Lifestyle, Hometown, @ Home & Evok etc. have been busy tightening their supply chain, product designs and quality to capture a fair share of this huge market. IKEA’s phased entry over the next 2 years will signal the second wave of this market consolidation.

To the common home maker while this adds the much-needed choice of furniture and ease of purchase, it brings with it a dilemma - whether to build the furniture or to buy it outright.

The question we are trying to answer in this blog post today is whether the good old days of the “family carpenter” shaving the wood away for months to get the home ready for the family really numbered*? … That comment brings back fond memories of our family carpenter at home, there never was a year when we did not have Shatya ji working the wood, shaving shaping and weaving his magic creating the woody world around us

STOP day dreaming now…back to the article, ahem!

Okay, question 2 - Is the stuff available from the organized furniture vendors good enough in terms of quality, will it last? What things are best bought readymade from the market versus the ones that should be made on site? And finally, how does the role of an interior designer change with impending organization & consolidation in this space, can a customer just do the designing & decoration on her own using the online tools available?

So here goes…the questions have been reordered to build a flow, don’t worry, we will be answering all…read on

Question 1. The question of quality: Can you really trust the mass market and organized furniture retailers to use good quality material that will last?


The answer is both yes and no. If you look at the scope of what is included in household furniture you can classify the pieces into two distinct segments (1) Movable furniture – Things like sofa sets, side/ center tables, dining sets and (2) Fixed Furniture - really semi fixed as everything can ultimately be moved :) – stuff like cots, headboards, crockery units, modular kitchens & wardrobes.

The Movable Furniture segment has always been “buy” heavy because it’s rare for an onsite carpenter to match the factory finish. In addition, movable furniture allows for a decent amount of flexibility as it does not need to fit perfectly into the space provided - compare this to a Wardrobe that ideally needs to be custom sized to fit the space available. For this reason, the movable furniture segment has been topping sales for all organized furniture retailers be it brick & mortar or online. In addition, by now the organized vendors have more or less perfected the balance between material quality and cost to offer products that offer both a good finish and a reasonable price. Therefore, the obvious verdict here is “BUY”

Fixed Furniture on the other hand is a bit of a mixed bag. The initial organized retailers in this segment were really modular furniture factories (think Zuari etc.) whose primary objective was to bring costs down. Hence items that they sold, be it wardrobes, crockery units, cots etc. were made from particle board or low cost MDF. Today there are some vendors who offer a choice of material and have differential pricing depending on the base material used, however the cost differential between stuff made from low quality and good quality material is substantial. Since hi quality stuff is expensive, it is uncompetitive. This leads to low sales resulting in a vicious circle (since quality stuff is expensive it is not mass market, the lack of economies of scale keeps the prices high due to which it is not mass market).

In addition to the above, the lack of a custom fit makes fixed furniture not the best candidate for a “buy” decision. For example - a bedroom with a custom-made cot having an upholstered headrest and the electrical switches fixed on a seamless wooden panel above the side tables has a much better feel to it than the same bedroom containing a readymade cot purchased online


That said if one is able to find specific items (say Wardrobes or Crockery Units) in good quality material from niche vendors at a good price during a promotion or a sale and is able to manage the custom sizing constraint via innovative d├ęcor - say keeping a vase or a lamp in the free space next to the unit due to the unit availability in fixed size only (more on this in the design section later) then this may be a viable option to consider.


Within Fixed Furniture, Modular Kitchens is a category in itself as it has a fairly large & mature vendor base. These vendors offer a custom fit and a wide choice of designs in different materials & quality based on the client’s budget. This makes Modular Kitchens an easy “buy” candidate. Readymade Modular Kitchens are however not the best option in specific circumstances - say when the builder has given a platform under the counter top or when fixed countertops have been provided by the builder and customers don’t want to remove / replace the same. (Please also read an earlier post on this topic here)

Question 2: The Changing role of the interior designer and whether one can really “self – design” with online tools available.

For long, Interior designing in India has been seen as glorified carpentry. Carpenters self-designating themselves as Interior Designers and the fact that even trained Interior Designers in the country have been “woodwork” focused rather than lifestyle & quality of life focused, has further led to this character assassination of the Interior Designer’s role. I have been of firm belief that customers looking for pure carpentry do not really need an Interior designer (do read this & this) and an Interior design discussion is really a discussion about bolstering one’s life, lifestyle and taste.


With quality “woodwork” becoming available readymade from organized furniture vendors, on site Carpentry is sure to take a hit, at the same time Interior Designers will need to cultivate skills to design homes around product catalogs of established furniture vendors, to make build versus buy decisions based on site needs and focus heavily on the holistic look & feel of the home (not just the woodwork) and the lifestyle of the residing family.

As the Interior Design fraternity learns these new tricks, technology savvy customers looking for just the woodwork and basic space visualization will be able to get this at the click of a button…maybe more like fifty clicks and some rubbing of the touchpad :).

Signing off, as always will welcome any comments and feedback