This Women Entrepreneur's Keen Eye helps create Bespoke Furniture for Contemporary Indian Consumers
By: Rachita Sharma
The Indian furniture market was valued at $17.4 Billion in FY21. The industry is predicted to reach $37.7 billion by 2026, growing at a double-digit CAGR of 13.37 percent during 2020-2026. According to entrepreneur AnupriyaSahu, Co-founder & Designer of Alankaram, a bespoke furniture design practice, this boom has been brought owing to various consumer and market. She credits it to the increasing consumer interest in customized furniture and availability of fresh ideas from freshly graduated designers from institutions like NID. Consumers today have improved living standards and increased paying capacities as well. There have been changes on the manufacturing end as well which have helped. Lately there have been improvedstandards in manufacturing andincreasing import cost. New design and manufacturing houses have come up and there is a general rise of patriotic feeling which has fueled the ‘Make in India’ awareness. According to Anupriya these factors combined have had a positive impact on the growth of the Indian furniture industry.
Established in 2013 with Co-Founder and Business Head DhwanitParmar, Alankaram has since been a pioneer in custom-made furniture design, blending rich craftsmanship and functionality to create timeless designs.
With over 10 years of experience in furniture design, Anupriya's discerning eye for detail and collaborative work process has led to the creation of state-of-the-art furniture designs.
In a conversation with the Women Entrepreneur magazine she speaks to us about Alankaram’s journey in the Indian furniture space and much more.
Alankaram was founded in 2013. How have you seen the Indian furniture market evolve in the last seven years? How has Alankaram aligned with industry trends and evolutions?
The Indian furniture market and design trends have evolved in the past seven years and will keep changing and recur in cycles in the future too. A noticeable trend is a shift to minimalistic and sleek designs with regional influence. The fusion of traditional and contemporary decor has also become very popular as it amalgamates the best of both worlds and is inspirational.
At Alankaram, our furniture is clubbed with artistic elements such as hand-paint. Inlay work is popular too as it exudes a touch of 'Indian-ness' with contemporary luxe. Every piece we create is unique and functional, with a touch of personalisation to meet our client's expectations. However, while we keep aligning our designs with the latest trends, some pieces remain timeless. At the end of the day, high-quality materials like teak and meticulous finish are always in trend.
Tell us about Alankaram’s design philosophy? How do you amalgamate aesthetics with functionality in Alankaram’s designs?
We have over a decade of experience that has helped us create and perfect state-of-the-art furniture designs. Our design sensibilities are innovative yet experimental, and have made us push the boundary beyond conventional design and notions of luxury. As a result, Alankaram’sproduct range is a blend of cultural insights and fine artistry and stands the test of time. I believe that "good furniture is an amalgamation of aesthetics, utility, and strength". Alankaramstands out with its contemporary, minimalistic designs and elegant usage of joineries. Wood joinery is used not only for strength but also adds to the aesthetics of the furniture.
Multi-purpose furniture, folding furniture, use of technology, etc. are few of the examples where aesthetics blends effortlessly with functionality. There are sofas with wireless mobile charging, study tables with built-in wireless audio systems, and nested coffee tables which can be used as tables or as seating.
As a designer where do you draw your inspiration from?
Nature, heritage and culture are main inspiration for designs, be it the hand painted partition unit (Udiv) or lotus shaped centre table (Seroja).
Looking back, what were some of the most challenging junctures throughout your entrepreneurial journey? How did you work towards overcoming the roadblocks that you faced?
Nearly a decade of my entrepreneurial journey has shown me many ups and downs. Finding a land (at New Delhi) for our initial setup, which took nearly 4 months, was the first major hurdle. This we overcame by finding a barren land and during our own construction for the factory.
Two of the six chairs we dispatched broke in transit forcing us to do a lot of R&D on what should be ideal packaging material. Finding the components for imported machinery, finding right blue for the Indian woods, finding quality raw material, etc. have been few of the challenges.
Training carpenters who are used to working with plywood, to work on solid wood is an ongoing challenge. Acquiring new customers and maintaining repeat customers is a challenge for every business.
Maintaining the highest possible standards in manufacturing, innovation in designing, and ‘promising less and delivering more’ are a few of the mantras that have helped along this journey.
Tell us about your co-founder DhwanitParmar and the role that he plays in leading Alankar. How do the two of you create synergy as co-founders?
My husband, the partner and co-founder of Alankaram, DhwanitParmar, hails from an IT background, and we decided to create Alankaram together. While I am more of a creative person, he has in-depth experience in sales and marketing, which has paved the pathway for Alankaram to become one of the largest furniture manufacturers in the country. His business acumen, strategic marketing and meticulous planning make Alankaram thrive in the furniture industry. In addition, Dhwanit has played a significant role in equipping the factory with state-of-art machines and tools from around the world. Alongside, infusing cultural wisdom with advanced techniques is the mantra he abides by.
What is your action plan for Alankaram’s growth in the near future? What is your vision for the brandAlankaram?
We are planning to open retail stores / experience centers in different cities in India as well as abroad. Increasing our manufacturing space from present 200,000 sq feet to 350,000 sq feet is on the cards.
We wish to make Alankaram the most sought after premium wooden furniture brand in India.