Nauka (नौका, naʊkɑ:) meaning boat in hindi, was conceptualised as a compact, storage heavy and multifunctional range for small, cramped homes in Mumbai, India's largest and most crowded metropolitan city. Boats were the form inspiration of this range, and hence it was named Nauka. This was my second project for Furlenco, a furniture rental firm based in Bangalore, India.
As part of the process, extensive research on the homes of middle class Mumbaikars and their lifestyles was done, including interviews and visits to their homes. It was observed that spaces are very tight, and rents extremely high. There is no luxury of space and every square foot of space is precious.
It was concluded that furniture for Mumbai had to be compact, should make optimum use of space and be multifunctional. To combat the lack of space, storage was to be incorporated into every piece of furniture. The furniture needed to look elegant, and not clutter the space. Finding the right aesthetic for this range was quite a challenge for me. I decided to use a light teak stain to make the furniture appear visually lighter and give an illusion of space at home.
I took inspiration from boats, which are common sight in the sea-side city of Mumbai. The woodworking, their curved lines, and their capacity to store and carry goods was what I took inspiration from. In the furniture pieces that I designed, the curved profile of the legs, the combination of solid wood and board, the inclusion of storage and the nautical theme of the soft furnishing was inspired by boats.
| I like to believe that Nauka is the user's boat that supports and carries him through the sea of people in Mumbai |
The idea was to design furniture for different kinds of spaces like a studio apartment, shared apartment or even a 1 or 2 BHK; but also for different kinds of people from different life stages, from student to married with kids. According to the needs identified, four products were shortlisted for production - Diwan / Day bed, Study table, Coffee table and Sofa bed.
I envisioned the Nauka Diwan as a furniture piece that could be used as both a bed and a sofa. It can be kept either in the living room or in the bedroom. It is ideal for a studio apartment, and can be used as seating for guests and to relax during the day, as well as to sleep at night.
The display shelf along the front side of the Diwan helps break the boxy nature of the product as well as provides a convenient area for the user to keep books and other artefacts. The idea was also to eliminate the need for a bedside table, and provide a shelf for the user to keep his cellphone, laptop, glasses, etc at night. The bed surface can be lifted to reveal ample storage underneath, ideal for storing bags, extra shoes, clothes and bedding. The Diwan or Day bed has no headboard and can be placed anywhere in the room, preferably lengthwise along a wall. The mattress comes with a removable cover for easy cleaning. The curved profile of the legs has been inspired by the hull of a boat. The combination of solid wood legs and board infill give the structure strength while providing ample storage space. The Diwan is completely knock down for easy transportation and storage.
Even in the tightest spaces in Mumbai a study table is a need, be it for working, studying, gaming or even just to use as a dumping surface. I designed the Nauka Study table to be just the right size for a single person making it compact enough to fit into any space. It has a drawer to store stationery, papers, books, cables, etc which helps to declutter the space. A small book corner is added, giving the user immediate access to books and eliminating the need for an additional bookshelf. A smart wire manager in the opposite corner helps organise cables. The tie members of the table are consciously placed at footrest height for comfort during prolonged seating. The legs of the table have the same curved profile as the other products, giving the table a sleek and elegant look. The Study table is completely knock down for easy transportation and storage.
In some cases that we observed, people preferred to have a sofa and coffee table combo in their home rather than a table. However they still wanted a surface to use as a work or dining area. I designed the Nauka Coffee table as a multifunctional table to be used along with any sofa, or even with the Nauka Diwan or Sofa bed. Along with the help of the lifting mechanism the surface can be lifted from 16 inches (400mm) to 24 inches (600mm). This provides a perfect height and the coffee table can be used to work or dine in one simple motion. It also brings the table surface closer making it easier to work comfortably. In addition it has storage space to keep remotes, magazines, etc. The lifting mechanism is a great value add to an otherwise ordinary coffee table.
The Nauka Sofa bed was conceptualised as a furniture piece for the living room. It aims to serve as a spacious three seater sofa by day and a queen bed by night. It is ideal as a guest bed in smaller homes. It has upholstered back cushions with a wave like pattern inspired from the nautical theme of the range. These can be removed at night to create space. The trolley which is underneath slides out on castors. Like the Diwan, it too has a display shelf which can be used for books, artefacts, etc. The two foam mattresses are separated and laid side by side to complete the bed. Extra bedding like pillows and blankets can be stored in the additional storage underneath. The Sofa bed can be knocked down for easy transportation and storage.
Unfortunately, this product was not taken past the prototyping stage and into production.
Sketches and Prototypes