Words by Roshna Chandran
Known for his ergonomically hand crafted furniture, Vincent Roy began Wood’n Design in Pondicherry back in 2013. His passion for designer furniture grew as he chalked and carved out in determination some of the most ingenious modern mid-century furniture. Here, Vincent speaks with LLM – Luxury Lifestyle Magazine about his journey into setting up his own full fledged designer furniture business in India.
Vincent had juggled between education and a local carpentry studio in Paris during his teenage years. At the age of 20, he took his trade to India, Australia, Cambodia and after shuttling to a few more countries, he decided to set up his new venture in Pondicherry. Specialising in modern mid century furniture, Vincent’s creations soon grew in popularity among the Indo-French hamlet residents.
“I work mainly with reclaimed wood, mostly teak that we have sourced out from beams found in old Indian houses built more than 80-200 years ago,” explained Vincent. “We do export some of our work, but my main business comes from within India.”
The Covid-19 pandemic had resulted in several lockdown restrictions around Tamil Nadu, making it arduous for Vincent and his team to follow up on orders. “I have another 45 clients to follow up with in the next three months, ” he said unperturbed. “The numbers are the same as usual, but pulling my team together during this pandemic has been an immense challenge. I now have 28 people working with me at the workshop.”
Vincent’s team consists of 18-25 year olds who had started out as trainees and move on to become junior to master level carpenters.
“Setting up Wood’n Design was a test of patience,” explained Vincent. “When I opened my work shop, I just had the dream to be on my own and to be able to do what I wanted, which meant: creating my own designs without anyone dictating to me. Once I started working with companies, it turned out that it’s not just all about creativity and production; it is also about business, which was a totally new thing for me.
“I had to handle management, training, being consistent with quality and devising a system for everybody to follow. I ended up not being able to leave my workshop at all; I had to be there all the time. I felt like a maestro with my own orchestra, ensuring that everyone is tuned in correctly.”
Today Wood’n Design has 150 products in its catalogue. Most of Vincent’s designs are inspired by the 1950’s genre of designers like Kofod Larsen, Gio Ponti, Hans Werner, Jean Prouve, Jean Royere, Pierre Jeanneret, Charlotte Parriand, Fredrick Kayser, Vladimir Kagan, and more.
He explained: “Every carpenter has something unique about their work. I like the challenges in aesthetics, ergonomics and strength, because when you do furniture like chairs which are exposed to repetitive friction and weight distribution, you really need to come out with a good product.”
Vincent added: “Chairs are quite challenging to design. I always work with a style that is light; nothing is stuck to the floor or too heavy. This is how you can create a lot more space in a room.”
The Bali chair has been in popular demand; made with Burma teak, it has a floating seat attached with brass pegs, an upholstered seat and a wickered back. The back view of this chair is beautiful and also ergonomic. It is a perfect example of a product that is timeless and durable.
“When we create furniture using reclaimed wood, our goal is to ensure that the product is timeless and durable,” explained Vincent. “But there are times when I have to give heed to certain clients who are particular about Vastu Shastra (an ancient science of architecture widely used while designing and constructing a house in India).
“Such clients are not OK with the idea of using reclaimed wood. So, then we source out 30-40 year old white ash from reliable distributors that plant these trees solely for the furniture market. These come from Europe and are replanted after cutting. We rely on distributors who follow a certain ethic, ensuring that forest areas remain undepleted.”
Wood’n Design products are retailed online at woodndesign.in and the furniture can also be found in his showroom in Pondicherry, India.
Photography courtesy of Wood’n Design