APRIL 2002 Contents
Business & Economy
at Every Alien Door'
'RETYRE' YOUR FURNITURE
Isidore Domnick Mendis
Rama Anand, founder of the Delhi Art Gallery, has wheeled in the eco-friendly tyre-furniture. She transforms worn-out tyres into state of the art furniture ranging from high stools, centre tables, sofas , office chairs, coffee bars – the end uses are endless.
Six years ago, Rama Anand, founder of the Delhi Art Gallery, was at her wits end, trying to rid herself of a set of four car tyres- that no one wanted. A shopkeeper offered her 50 cents per tyre in exchange for the new ones. Being an environmentally conscious citizen, she was loathe passing them on to the night guards, lest they burn them and pollute the air. And that’s when she discovered her true calling in the world of art. She transformed the worn-out tyres into state of the art furniture that could do any living room proud. High stools, round centre tables with black glass tops, plant holders, sofa sets, office chairs, coffee bars, clocks, mirrors and painting frames – the end uses are endless.
Three-wheeler tyres serve as seats for bar stools and garden chairs with legs and back support made of wrought iron. Cut into halves tractor tyres form ornate backs for sofas or bed heads or just decoration pieces placed against a wall.Sketching out her ideas, Rama has sought to convert these ‘no longer valuable’ bits of ugly rubber wheels into products that are eminently desirable and stand proudly inside your house rather than hidden in garages.
" When I first made these pieces of furniture I was overjoyed. Not just because I was creating something out of the ordinary but also because I was helping protect the green environment. I was making eco-friendly products from environmentally hostile material."
She was also conscious of the fact that she would need to sanitise these tyres that must have travelled over all types of surfaces and attracted all manner of bugs. Rama decided to take some precautions to improve their acceptability.
"Before being transformed into state of art objects, these tyres are treated with chemical solvents to remove any hazardous substance that may be sticking to it. Besides, they are washed several times over to do away with their rubber smell," says the creative lady.
Tyre furniture, beside being eco friendly is also cost effective. Stockpiling of used tyres is a major environmental concern the world over, particularly because tyres do not biodegrade so quickly. As a result, they stockpile landfills and are generally disposed of by setting them on fire thus releasing thick black toxic fumes and chemicals into the air.
Undisposed stockpiles provide fertile grounds for mosquito breeding and are a major health threat. Rama feels that sofas, chairs and tables made from tyres can easily replace traditional furniture and also help the cause of environment. Fewer trees felled translates into a more sustainable green earth cover.
Converting them into furniture not only addresses the challenge of their disposal, they are easy on the pocket especially since wooden furniture prices have been travelling northwards. Furniture manufactured from tyres is economically priced.
" It costs 40 percent less than wood furniture. While photo frames cost between Rs.400 and Rs.700, sofas are priced at Rs.2000 to Rs.3500. Price differences are primarily because of the finishing material used. For example cotton fabrics used in the upholstery work out cheaper in comparison to leather.
Tyre furniture is highly durable, sturdy and can last a lifetime. It does not wear or tear with use as does other wood based furniture. When painted dark brown it closely resembles wooden furniture and its grooves can be dressed up to appear like intricate carvings.But unlike wooden pieces that are generally unwieldy, difficult to reposition and drag across the room, tyre furniture is both light in looks and load. It is also very safe and well balanced, especially for the elderly and the children.
Rama has further improved the mobility of her tyre furniture, by mounting pieces on chrome plated steel wheels. " With coasters, the furniture is easy to move from one place to another," she opines.
Although she’s been into art since her schooldays, it was only after marriage that she converted this into a full time profession. She set up a society of art and exhibited paintings of old Bengal masters.
Her tyre ideas have satisfied her creative instincts and aspirations. Winning the 2001 Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Award for Pollution Control and Energy Conservation, she says, is recognition of her contribution to a healthy environment.
At present Rama operates from her residence in Delhi’s Sainik Farms, but soon plans to set up a full-fledged production unit at Noida. She has patented her innovations and acquired overseas copyrights. " Tyre furniture has enormous export potential and can be a major foreign exchange earner," she says.
But more than export, those who have seen her furniture say that she would be hard put to satisfy domestic demand. There is already a long list of pending orders.
So, if you too are ‘tired’ of your old furniture and are looking to make a new eco-fashion statement then re-tyre the old.
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