It was just another day when partners Bhawna Welturkar and Abhishek Srivastava decided to take their scooter out for a check-up. But something changed this time, something caught their eye that would take them down an unexpected road — tyres. Hastily stacked in a corner, covered with neglect, these worn out tyres birthed an idea in the two industrial designers.
“When we saw the tyres, it made us think — can we reuse and upcycle them in some way. There are some products like tyres that are difficult to recycle; they’ll end up causing more harm to the environment if burnt and moulded. That’s when we began ideating,” says Bhawna. And that’s how they started making tyrochairs.
Since the two had a background in designing, it didn’t take long for an idea to crop up. What started as a simple Google search turned into a storm of research and development, and eventually led to patterns and designs that could be executed easily. Elaborating on the next few steps, they say, “After we had a basic design concept in mind, we made miniature models. A paper sketch gives you just a two-dimensional view and we needed a three-dimensional one to execute the idea.”
This miniature was taken to a fabricator who made the base for each chair and furniture items. While the metal work was outsourced, Bhawna and Abhishek worked on the tyres themselves. “We bought a few tyres, cleaned them and started the weaving and painting,” he says. Still in its prototype phase, they began experimenting with materials. Initially, they painted the tyres with acrylic paint but that didn’t work out quite right. “We used acrylic sprays, which dry in 10 minutes, but they don’t stay. So, we tried oil paints next. Though it didn’t rub off as fast as the acrylic colours, it too didn’t stay very long. We are still working on how to keep the paint from chipping,” explains Abhishek.
Once painted, the tyres are drilled and layered with different weaves. “We had to look up weaving patterns for this,” says Bhawna. Choir ropes, nylon strings and cloth are what they use. And even though cloth is more prone to wear-and-tear, the couple prefer it as nylon is hard to weave.
Along with experimental furniture, Bhawna and Abhishek also paint used glass bottles. According to them, it’s not so much about crafting but an attempt to protect the environment.
“We keep an eye out for material that is hard to recycle and find ways to turn them into something utilitarian,” she says. Their next upcycling project will involve tennis balls, as she adds, “When we are done using a tennis ball, which is rubber, we throw it away; there’s no way to recycle it. Although we don’t have a solid idea in mind we want to do something with them.”
Even their bottles have a unique touch to them. In an attempt to make the designs stand out and stick out, they are painted with acrylic colours (as base) and then doodled on with more acrylic paints.
“We put the paints in a cone and doodle on the bottle. It’s like applying ‘mehendi’! We did try drawing with markers but they don’t have that three-dimensional feel to them,” says Abhishek.
The two can’t resist whipping up something creative so this is a good way to indulge their passion, aside from work. And it’s also their way of making a difference and protecting the environment. “We had many bottles lying around at home and we’d sell them every month. But it didn’t make sense as you get Re 1 for five bottles. It hit us that we could do something creative with them instead,” he adds. All this craft work is done on weekends and whenever they get time.
(Bhawna and Abhishek can be contacted on email@example.com)