Metalwood Nepal: fusing contemporary design with traditional
Jun 17, 2019-
On the ground floor of a building, where one can reach after navigating through one of Patan’s narrow alleys, workers are toiling over wood while others weld metal into different shapes. That metal and wood, which makes up several pieces of furniture and decor, fills the workspace and extends into the backyard. Some are complete, others are works in progress.
This workshop is a design studio for Metalwood Nepal. As its name suggests, the company mainly designs and makes furniture using wood and metal. However, they are not limited to it.
“Most people think that we just make furniture but we are more than that. We provide architecture and interior design services as well,” says Suraj Joshi, one of the company’s four co-founders. “When we take a project, we start everything from scratch with the team of architects and carpenters.”
Metalwoods Nepal is the brainchild of Suraj Joshi, Niraj Joshi, Nico Marie and Jitendra Shrestha, who are all passionate about design. The four founders used meet during various design projects and later came together, motivated to establish a one-of-a-kind design studio in Nepal.
The founders say that architecture, interior design, and furniture making are all interlinked and Metalwoods is a one-stop solution for all. The concept and unique designs are what sets them apart, they say. They have tried to incorporate traditional twists into modern designs, and one of their most popular products is a lamp made combining copper, brass, and wood.
“We initially made lamps because we felt such decor was very expensive in the market but lacked variation in design,” says Joshi. “But, as we started designing and making these products, we also realised that we are utilising the skills of traditional artisans, whose work is really underappreciated.”
The demand for local artisans, who used to make traditional brass and copper household items like gagri and ghyampo have decreased as a consequence of lowering demand for such products. But, according to Joshi, their small effort in incorporating the skills of local artisans has also been a step forward in preserving traditional designs.
Photo: Metalwoods Nepal Nepal Website
“Suraj and Niraj already had a workshop called Metalshapers. So, when we decided to partner, we expanded it in terms of space, manpower, and products,” says Nico Marie, another co-founder.
They started with one architect and few carpenters but now have a team of seven architects and 20 carpenters.
Their social media presence has also helped them find customers, they say. But they aren’t very keen on social media marketing, at least not for now.
“We launch our new products from our social media sites, and our website, but we don’t plan on selling our products online,” says Marie.
According to Joshi, it is difficult to establish communication with clients exclusively through social media. He believes one needs to look at furniture and decor in person to understand its design and quality. But so far, their customers have appreciated their products.
“When we were starting out, I was scared and curious about the feedback. Thankfully, we have been getting positive feedback from the customers,” says Joshi. He attributes this to the changing tastes in furniture and decor among the urban population.
As the company is getting popular in Kathmandu, they have been getting a lot of orders--so much that sometimes they get overwhelmed. But the co-founders believe in delivering the best to their customers and do not want to compromise on the quality of design or workmanship.
“We don’t accept what we can’t deliver, instead of disappointing our customers,” says Marie.
Photo: Metalwoods Nepal Nepal Website
While designing a product, Metalwoods Nepal mainly focuses on making sure customer-satisfaction is high.
“Our designs are sleek, minimal and universal in terms of colour. We want our products to fit anywhere,” says Marie.
They also have to curate the orders they receive due to lack of skilled carpenters, they say.
“Most of our carpenters are Indian. We can rarely find a skilled Nepali carpenter, which is a major setback,” says Joshi. “This is especially difficult because there are Nepali architects, who have unique designs, but but we do not have enough people who can execute those designs. We are trying to fill that gap.”
In response to ever-growing demand, the people behind Metalwood Nepal are going to expand its capacity with a new and more spacious workshop. It will require hiring more artisans, and prove difficult for maintaining consistency and quality, but the new factory will open up the business for more clients.
“We are opening a new factory in Satdobato. We hope that we will be able to retain our quality and uniqueness with a new team. It’s our main goal,” says Marie.
Published: 17-06-2019 08:56