Arjun Rathi, who just graduated from Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute of Architecture and Environmental Studies (KRVIA), as an architect, makes his first scrap furniture. A coffee table out of a sleek vintage Kelvinator fridge door with condenser coils for support. His two years of architectural practice involved working on issues related to conservation, architecture and interiors, urban research and architectural journals. It awakened his interest of thinking eco-friendly. Here, he tells ArtUmbrella his thought process behind The Refrigerator-door Coffee Table.
What inspired you to create a refrigerator-door coffee table?
The idea came to me while I was at a friend’s place in Turku, Finland, early this March. My friends, also architects on an internship, happened to be scouring for the perfect drafting table. They ended up using a scrap refrigerator door for their architectural drawings because it had a flat and stable surface area. That’s how the coffee table idea was born. I see the table as a centre piece of a room, as a sculpture with an eco-friendly bent.
How long you took to put the table together?
Three weeks. The first week and a half went in searching for the required scrap.
Your major challenges?
Finding scrap and bargaining for its right price. Aside multiple trips to find the right coil, I was looking for a flat surface door. And you only get that effect with an old fridge model. I finally found a vintage Kelvinator door at a scrap markets in Kamathipura while the coils and metal came from various shops in Null and Chor bazaar. Then finding a good fabricator for welding was a task. I ended changing two welders mid-project.
The idea in creating what is ‘supposedly legs’ to the table?
I wanted a light and porous look for what went beneath the refrigerator door. A see-through, minimalistic look. For this concept, condenser coils seemed the perfect answer.
Any funny situations while table-making?
“It can’t be done.”
“This is the only way it can be done.”
“Coffee-table hain toh jaada weight nahi lena chahiye…baas kone mein khada rahega” – my first fabricator who I later replaced. Then a friend sat (with gusto) on the cantilevered corner to test whether it would give way. It didn’t and but I don’t reccommend that either.
How do you maintain it?
The table surface is rust-free as it has been given a duco paint finish with a layer of lacquer and the coils below, powder coated black. So just clean/dust with a dry cloth. And use coasters.
Designers you admire.
I admire Joe Colombo, who is responsible for his 60s psychedelic charm to furniture and interiors. His bold play with colours and form is very inspiring. Le Corbusier – his furniture was extremely ergonomic and I love his studies on human proportion. His concept of the ‘Modulor man’ is equivalent to Da Vinci’s Vitruvian man.
Give us a gist of your research in recycled products?
Throughout my eight-month travel across Europe, I’ve seen a lot of artwork made from recycled/waste materials. In India, I do regular extensive visits to scrap markets like Null Bazaar, Bhendi Bazaar, Mohammad Ali Road and markets at Milan and Andheri subway. Most of my inspiration for the next piece comes from scouring the market or picking up an interesting article to redesign it into a usable structure. Also, I constantly update myself on blogs related to architecture like www.dezeen.com and bldgblog.blogspot.com
I have been walking the eco-friendly path for quite some time now. All my architecture-related projects react or take the environment into consideration. I remember one of my ex-employers calling me an ‘Environmental Terrorist.’ Even through my college days, I’ve only used recycled paper for my sketchbooks and design models.
Advice, hints on research for people who want to get into scrap furniture like you.
When you design, don’t bother about how it’s going to be constructed. Go crazy and represent your most imaginative thought on paper. Then figure out the solutions for fabricating the piece. Don’t let practicality become a hindrance to creativity.
More pictures of the table. For inquires about the price, do write to firstname.lastname@example.org