To understand the philosophy behind the furniture we make, it is important to understand the historical and present day context of Chandigarh furniture.
In the 1950s and '60s, Pierre Jeanneret and his team of young Indian designers, such as Eulie Chowdury, Jeet Malhotra and A.R. Prabawalkar, designed a vast range of furniture for Government offices, Punjab University, and public buildings in the city. The designs were site and usage specific. The furniture needed to be produced in large quantities to fill up the city, and a central design office under Jeanneret’s leadership was set up to oversee production and quality. The work was outsourced to various carpenters in Punjab and even in New Delhi.
Until the early 1980s, it was mandatory for all government offices in Chandigarh to use chairs and tables based on these designs. From the 1950s to '70s, various carpenters made these chairs using different types of wood and without too much standardisation of quality. For example, many of the carpenters did not use the signature finger joints and dovetail joints of Jeanneret's design. They used nails or nuts and bolts to keep the joints together. Some were good, some passable, and some were of downright bad quality. Broadly, the chairs made directly under the supervision of the design office, in the 1950s, retained the core design specifications, and can be called originals.
‘Original’ Chandigarh furniture pieces are now collector’s items and auctioned at high prices across Europe and the US. Several pieces of furniture passed off as ‘originals’ are poorly made, heavily restored, and don’t adhere to the original design. Ironically, furniture that was meant for public use has now become highly-priced collectibles, accessible to only the richest collectors.
Project Chandigarh evolved as our way of being true to the philosophy of Chandigarh furniture. Our carpenters meticulously follow the original designs of Pierre Jeanneret: V and X legs, finger joints, bowed backrests, the angles of the seat and arms, rounded edges. The slightly rustic elements of the design are preserved; for example, the cane is not polished and the cane-work knots at the back of chairs are left uncovered. Our furniture is handcrafted, robust, and made using reclaimed teak or rosewood. Moreover, our furniture is accessible to anybody who appreciates good design, craftsmanship, and the significance of the Chandigarh furniture story.