Furniture design does not have a great many exponents in India, but chief among them is 36-year-old Rajiv Saini. The self-taught architect and designer started out with a degree in computer science and engineering, but soon realized that design, in all its various forms, was his calling. “I don’t look at design in pigeon holes,” says Saini, who has most notably refurbished the Devi Garh palace in Rajasthan. “I straddle it in all respects, and it’s only natural that one area should spill into another.”
His pieces, solid forms usually constructed out of industrial strength material such as wood and steel, are vaguely futuristic and not a little bit mod. A steel base stops a bubblegum-pink table from veering into pop-kitsch territory, while a teak coffee table is thrown awry by spidery ebony inlay of abstract maps. “This was my response to the chaotic confusion in the construction industry,” he says. The works, eight pieces created over the last two years, will be on show at Nature Morte, New Delhi, till 29 August. Given his love for sleek design, we asked him to name his five favourite chairs.
Shell chair (See picture)
By Hans J. Wegner
One of the most prolific Danish designers—he has more than 500 chair designs to his name—Wegner began his career as a cabinet-maker, before switching to architecture and later design. This three-legged chair, an iconic piece to emerge from the 1960s, “is very sculptural, and as relevant today as it was way back then”.
Cherner chair (See picture)
By Norman Cherner
Though he dabbled in all kinds of design, including glassware, lighting and prefabricated housing, the American designer was noted for his heavily sculptural pieces of furniture, including this plywood chair first designed in 1958. “I love the swirling arm, and that there’s almost a paucity of materials used,” Saini says.
Panton chair (See picture)
By Vernor Panton
This Danish design guru pioneered the idea of creating objects from a single form of moulded plastic. Designed in the 1960s, his Panton chair was an instant hit, coveted for its cantilevered design and low-key looks. “Back then, all chairs had plastic seats but the legs were metal, and this was made from one whole piece of plastic,” Saini says.
Cité Lounge chair (See picture)
By Jean Prouvé
Made of sheet steel and leather, this chair is a reflection of Prouve’s engineering and architectural training. “He was a French architect, and his approach to furniture was similar to his approach to structure,” says Saini, who has used this chair in several design projects, and can attest to its comfort factor. “It really cradles you very snugly.”
After Spring, Before Summer
By Ron Arad
This limited-edition piece by the London-based Israeli designer was made from a sheet of stainless steel. “I saw it in his studio, where I was fortunate enough to meet him,” Saini says. “It has a real purity of form, and a lot of visual glamour. It’s a masterpiece.”