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| Last Updated:08/03/2014

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From waste to wonderful

TEJA LELE DESAI, The Hindu, 08 March 2014



Stylish home décor products that belie their humble origins are the highlight at Workshop Q, run by sisters Radhika and Madhvi Khaitan


When sisters Radhika and Madhvi Khaitan decided to start Workshop Q, they were clear that they wanted “a movement, not a business”. Today, Jaipur-based Workshop Q is a “best-from-waste” design house that offers a variety of home décor products. The extremely stylish clocks, trays, photo frames, tissue boxes, coasters, card holders, lamps and other utility items belie their humble origins. They’re all crafted from scrap procured from factories, construction sites, small artisans, households and just about anywhere!


“The increasing awareness of the importance of being eco-friendly in the West as opposed to the lack of awareness in India inspired us to start WorkshopQ. We wanted to show people that what we often label as ‘waste’ is not truly waste. We also wanted to change mindsets – eco-friendly does not mean boring, it can be fun,” Madhvi says.


Both sisters have a solid grounding in finance and accounting – they studied it in the UK, after which they pursued degrees in visual communications at Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, California. How did they realise that design was their calling and not the world of finance? “We always had a flair for design and used to excel at all our art classes since we were kids. We honed our skills completely at FIDM,” Radhika says.


Soon after, WorkshopQ was born out of that very need to innovate with creativity, sustainability and functionality. The sisters, who confess to loving we love “Thomas Heatherwick’s perspective of looking at things and Subodh Gupta’s way of using everyday objects to create stunning sculptures”, focus on ways to “reuse, design, and create”.


Their workshop in Jaipur consistently revamps junk into chic products - acrylic, aluminium, wood, tyre tubes, compact discs, vinyl records, jute, cork, wood fibre, industrial felt, cables, wires and similar stuff are repurposed into stylish lifestyle products. All the products are extremely well put together and showcase the duo’s talent. “We believe that design is everywhere and in the simplest of things. It is just about the perspective you use to look at things,” Madhvi says. “Designers are often mistaken for being a designer in their specific field! Design is not something where one can be limited to its specific boundaries that have been set. Design is a vast field where every aspect is intertwined with each other,” she adds.


The products, priced between Rs. 50 and Rs. 7,000, are available at many outlets across the country and also online through their Facebook page. What are the bestsellers? “Definitely the vinyl record clocks and the Twister lamps,” Radhika says. But their own personal favourites remain the “steel mirror and the Twister lamps!”


The sisters consider themselves upcyclers rather than recyclers. “Upcycling means to use discarded material in such a way that instead of downgrading it and making it of lesser value, you add value and create something new,” Radhika says. “Another unique feature is that our products cannot be recognised instantly as ‘made from scrap’. We give scrap a whole new makeover. Our products are quirky enough to fit perfectly into any kind of an environment,” Madhvi adds.