It is not easy to find At-Tin in Mazgaon. People will stare at you in confusion if you happen to ask for directions. Persevere a bit and head to the end of old Anjirwadi Lane, past buffaloes tied to a stake and tempos being loaded with ply. Soon you will find yourself facing massive doors, consisting of four shutters made with sanded polycarbonate and metal and opaque, patterned glass with heavy metal handles.
This is designer Aziz Kachwalla’s design studio. Here, he has created a place “for interior and exterior products that combine architecture and product design”. This also happens to double up as an exhibition space for his furniture and lighting designs, as well as those of a few other artists.
Once upon a time, the around 900-square-foot space served as Kachwalla’s personal studio, where he did his own work, including a couple of projects helping the development of museums. Then he reached saturation point. “The city has always had the need for good design spaces,” said Kachwalla, “But Mumbai poses a lot of problems when it comes to having your own space. It is too expensive for young, talented designers to afford; Delhi and Bangalore are more affordable.” Blessed with what many called “a dream space”, he decided to throw it open to such gifted designers. This collaborative effort of his, however, is only with people who share his philosophy and ideas, which include an awareness of good product design, knowing the difference between good design and art, and using objects for their own sake. Being eco-friendly helps too!
In defence of good design
Anu Tandon Vieira is the founder of The Retyrement Plan, an initiative that uses discarded tyres, cloth, twine, bamboo and cane to create furniture. When Kachwalla decided to open At-Tin, he approached Vieira. “Aziz wanted people whose work is not commercially well known but is well designed, detailed, a little off the norm, and uses materials in unique ways,” said Vieira. Some of her eco-friendly furniture is on display at At-Tin, lending a good splash of colour to the interiors. Vieira also exhibits at a few stores in Goa and at a couple of pop-ups in the city but she prefers At-Tin to the rest. “It is so special. It has an honesty that you do not see in most places–the space and the lighting. It is just a bare shell without floss and superficial ornamentation and where products speak for themselves. One of the few high-end design stores in the city that features good design, At-Tin, however, may not have popular designs or ‘designer’ designs,” she said.
Keeping it simple
Simplicity is second nature at At-Tin. The furniture and furnishings on display are made with a combination of raw metal, metal foil, glass, plywood, polycarbonate and medium density fibre board (MDF). Raw metal and ply are Kachwalla’s current favourite playthings and he uses them in a way that ensures the original material is not lost. A bookshelf is made of plywood stained with beetroot to give it a darker shade. The raw metal furniture is just that, simple stools and tables made with metal joined together with just screws. There are some recycled, eco-friendly designs too – a lamp made from the drum of a discarded washing machine and bags made from tyre tubes. Each design is accorded its own ‘showcase area’, where it is displayed in all its artistic glory. Kachwalla is hopeful that people will be willing to travel a little out of their way for the sake of good, sustainable design.