”Too often, sustainability is viewed as a lifestyle that goes without; it’s an association that has belittled its benefits,” muses architect, and product and industrial designer Shashank Gautam. However, Gautam wants to celebrate this lifestyle by infusing the goodness of bamboo and bamboo products in our daily life. ”My desire is to design and manufacture beautiful bamboo products that have the same competitive edge as wood and plastic while reaping bountiful benefits for the environment. I believe in treating our natural resources with a playful perspective of exploration; constantly designing, shaping, and reinventing in a manner that it’s sustainable yet vogue.”
It was with this aim that he founded MIANZI, a sustainable furniture and lifestyle products brand.
These organic and fresh designs blend the raw natural appeal of bamboo with technology that imparts each piece its clean cuts and smooth edges. The final results are elegant, contemporary designs ingrained with strong traditional elements. “We want to step out of the accepted parameters and bring life to fresh ideas that previously seemed improbable,” Gautam explains. “We take multiple design elements, that many believe do not fit together and merge them to create a neoteric design.”
Case in point, Lotus Lamps that come in pendant and floor variations. The design, inspired by the Lotus flower, has light emerging from the centre, dancing through the intricate double-layered weaves. His exquisitely crafted Butterfly and Mocha chairs lend that perfect elegant and minimal touch to your dining area. “The curves and composition of the elements make the form more organic, giving a natural softness with a clean finish.” Another delightful piece is the Deer Table named for its sleek deer-like legs and minimalist look. “It is a representation of the successful association between design and sustainability while proving that functionality can often emerge from the timeless beauty of true works of art,” he beams.
The journey of MIANZI started with a design competition in 2009. While designing a building with a Zero Carbon Footprint, Gautam grasped the true potential of this versatile material. With Bachelors in Architecture from SPA Delhi and Masters in Industrial Designing from IDC, IIT Bombay, he manifested an insurmountable drive to build green products through this brand. “We think of sustainability in a broad spectrum, rather than just limiting it to carbon footprint, though that is an intricate and essential factor,” he explains.
The range also includes flexible storage options like The Hive, which is designed as a playful and contemporary shelving system with sturdy modular metal cubicles. It gives the user maximum creative freedom to play with a myriad of configurations by adding and re-arranging bamboo components within the metal structure. These woven bamboo baskets, handmade by local craftsmen in small villages of Madhya Pradesh, are also stackable.
Gautam considers bamboo the ‘it’ environmentally-conscious raw material of the future. But what makes it so? Well, compared to wood, the fibre is 2-3 times stronger yet lighter. It grows to maturity in 5 years and harvests are possible every year for up to 120 years. It has a yield 25 times higher than hardwoods like the oak tree. Bamboo is also one of the best plants on the earth to sequester carbon and releases about 35 percent more oxygen than equivalent stands of trees.
”Most of the bamboo is procured from local vendors and we are in the process of collaborating with farmers to train them in more sustainable, controlled, and harvesting practices. With our designs, we are constantly making sure there is minimal wastage of raw material. We also conceptualise pieces that can be easily flat packed for transportation. MIANZI’s sustainable designs are a testimony to its functional approach. The purpose is not to greenwash with another sustainable material, but to rethink industrial production and product conception in a realistic way.”
Prices range between Rs 1,000 to Rs 25,000. You can see more products here.
All images: Courtesy MIANZI