An exclusive interview with Bandana Jain - Designer of the week

An exclusive interview of with Bandana Jain, who is not just an artist and entrepreneur but also works towards upliftment of under-privileged women.
L-Bandana Jain with her team

Life is not easy, it’s full of struggle, but there are some who rise above all odds to design their own destiny and set examples for others. One such inspiration is Artist Bandana Jain. Hailing from a small village called Thakurganj in Bihar, a joint family 50 Pax taught her to grow in her own skin. Only the men of the family would receiver formal education and women would stay at home until they got married.  “The women remained at home until they married. I was first one to get out of Bihar and that too after my marriage in 2008!” said Bandana.

Although she went to Project Girls High School in her village, a government school and college but was always keen to study art. After completing her graduation in commerce she applied for entrance at JJ School of arts in 2008.

After completing her course she went out of the box to design with corrugated cardboards boxes; Bandana believes that cardboards play an integral role in our life and it has multiple uses. Instead of adding the used up cardboards to the garbage she is converting them into a beautiful decor products from classy lamps, panels, ceilings to more.

Bandana founded Sylvn Studio in 2013 and currently holds the positions of Director and Chief Product Designer in the firm. She shares a deep concern for the environment and believes that India needs to be more sensitive about issues like global warming.

“I love to do bespoke/signature work which should not get reduced to just a piece of art, but excel as a cause to make the world a better place to live in”.

Here is an exclusive interview of with Bandana Jain, who is not just an artist and entrepreneur but also works towards upliftment of under-privileged women.

Q1. Tell us how Sylvn Studio was started?

An artist by passion, I founded Sylvn studio in 2013 – that sells eco-friendly, handcrafted lamps and furniture made out of recycled corrugated cardboard.

 While designing my house and trying to find interesting home décor items in the market I realized that there is a need for a new, unconventional and sustainable décor. And that led me to creating furniture from corrugated paper wood. After a lot of experimentation with the medium, I was able to create a beautiful unique lounge and a few more décor items through recycled material for my house. The appreciation that I received inspired me to take it up on a bigger scale and this became the root of Sylvn Studio.

 My aim is to continue creating beautiful visual experiences in varied spaces such as homes, restaurants, lobbies and business centre with an aim to contribute socially as well.

Q2. You work with sustainable & waste products like cardboard. How did the idea of using cardboard to craft creative decor products came into being?

To fall for corrugated cardboard was kind of love at first site. When I was in college, I got a random interaction with a beautiful medium; I was thrilled to see the bust (flute) of corrugation, the lining on the other side. It was different; I felt I should explore it more. That was the beginning of my love for corrugated cardboard.

Because the medium is extremely beautiful, it’s new, unconventional, unexplored and sustainable. I thought I should take it forward before it’s too late. Also I prefer working with recycled and eco-friendly materials as I have my concern for the environment and I believe that India needs to be more sensitive about issues like global warming. For me Sylvn Studio is not just an art studio, but a cause to make the world a better place to live in.

Q3. You are an inspiration for many. But who or what inspires you the most?

Travelling inspires me the most. It gives me the opportunity to explore different art, culture, lifestyle, food, trends, economy and what not. It helps me to judge myself and assess the opportunities in life. It matures me.

I get inspired from people who take challenges in their lives. Be it failures, achievers or strugglers. They exhale sheer positivity. I find their approach towards life to bravery different and they are always inspiring.

Q4. What are some of the challenges that you faced while selling your product in the market?

I am working with this medium for the last 6 years. Over a period of time I realised, to sell the product in the market is not difficult, if the market is right. To do proper research on 4 P’s of marketing and zero it into appropriate market segment is crucial.

There is high demand for Sylvn products in niche to luxury segment. It goes well with those who have acquired taste. I know my market segment and their needs. Hence, we provide custom made options too which works well with the architects to design a new age home and other spaces. It took me a while to do that research and now I am getting high demand for the creations we do.

With God’s grace, I am opening an observation window, by Bandana Jain in a very posh area of Worli, Mumbai. You can come, enjoy and experience the beauty and strength of corrugated cardboard.

Q5. What are the strengths of cardboard as a material for making furniture? Are there any add ons done to increase its strength?

While making the furniture with corrugated cardboard, the most important part is the construction of the sheet in certain way that it holds the weight and ensures durability. Quality material is definitely an important aspect. Hence, I am quite specific about it. We use virgin quality German cardboard sheet which is extremely strong and durable. We do some applications to make it even sturdier. Though the trick lies into the construction only.

Q6. Please share the features and technical details of the material and what are the other application areas.

A finished piece of corrugated cardboard consists of a single corrugated layer sandwiched between two liner layers that give the strength to the material.

The cardboard sheets we use are German made, having different proportion of wood pulp to paper compared to the regular sheets. We use 3 types of thicknesses, 2.7mm, 9mm and 12mm. depending upon the type of work to be done, we select the appropriate sheets. For example, for detailed works like sculptures, I go for 2.7mm thickness, whereas in the case of lamps, we go for 9-12mm thickness.

However, it is not just the thickness of the sheet that matters. How we cut it is also important. Cutting by hand gives a roughness to the strips of sheet we cut. These are ideal for lamps when one needs a nice diffused light. Whereas when it comes to murals or furniture, a sharper cut is used to give a better looks.

Finally, depending upon the application we either paste the cut cardboard or interlock them. Pasting is more popular if you want to create a dense and durable product, like a sculpture or mural. Interlocking is more useful when you want to create sturdy, lightweight and easy to assemble furniture.”

Q7. Lot of women come from conservative families, how do you manage to convince the families and uplift the women from their threshold?

We as women are always pressurised with societal norms. We are always unsure about the fact that we are also humans and we can take decisions in our lives. There is a need to understand that being self-sustained is not an act of selfishness.

When I come across these women, I always try to convince them and confide them to use their rights.

One of my favourite quotes from “The Alchemist“, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”.

“I believe more than the family it is our determination and our ability to take the call.”

Q8. Where do you see Sylvn Studio in next few years?

Making my brand available into international platform. There is a huge scope of work with cardboard in international market. Hence currently my focus will be to tap the right market. Exhibition in iSalone del Mobile and Mason and Objet is my 2020 goal.  Secondly, I am looking forward to making my venture fully functional and automated so that I can stay focused on working with organic waste, which is available in abundance across the globe. That way I continue my contribution to the betterment of the society by making better use of waste and creating opportunities for women in rural areas and create a lot of employment opportunities for them.

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