Design Digest

What happens when two out-of-the-box furniture designers join hands with a talented product designer? Electro-mechanical installations, Yoga Chairs, Garlic Lamps and more. Say hello to Yusuf Mannan, Hidish Salam and Kuldeep T of Bent By Design.


Crafted by Yusuf, Hidish and Kuldeep, the Plumbing Pipe Conference Table is made using a plumbing pipe connected with elbow and t-joints. This was designed for Mudra Communication, Bangalore.

It’s not every day that you see a custom-designed seat made to fit in a couple and their yet-to-be-born baby, called Dhai Seater. Or how about reading by a lighting fixture inspired by an ordinary kitchen essential — garlic? Better yet, fancy holding an important business meeting around a table that is made using plumbing pipes… Seems unbelievable? That’s exactly how customers of Bent by Design, a Bangalore-based outfit, react when Yusuf Mannan, Hidish Salam and Kuldeep T present them with the end products.

The three formed the company in 2007, which was the result of many years of association and appreciation of everything to do with designing. Kuldeep and Yusuf met in NID while pursuing product design and furniture design respectively. As luck would have it, Yusuf was called to be an external jury member for Hidish’s final assessment while the latter was studying furniture designing at Shrishti School of Art and Design. Later, they met again at the Dovetail Factory where Yusuf was working on a project to develop children’s furniture. “That’s when we got talking over cups of chai and saw potential chemistry between the three of us. Without much ado, we sealed our fates together and decided to take the plunge,” explains Hidish.

So, they set up a workshop — but it couldn’t be just anywhere. They wanted a place that was inspiring and motivating… a place where they would love to meet every morning. Finally, they found the perfect spot (at the outskirts of Bangalore) that was located in the middle of a mango orchard, close to a water body. Practically, it made no sense: it was far away from basic amenities and it didn’t even have an approach road. But then design, like art, starts where logic ends.

The trio’s early days were spent trying to “gather all our capabilities and present them in alternative ways,” adds Kuldeep. Their first breakthrough was a project with Equations, in an exhibition/installation titled Disappear, which gave them a chance to explore their potential. At the same time, they were commissioned to design and install a large mobile lamp in the foyer of an office. “It was one of the most fulfilling experiences,” says Yusuf. Large aluminium dishes had to be hand-beaten to build the shades. After knocking on many doors they decided to make it themselves. And that’s when they realized that the sum of their individual skills could lead to amazing results.

Called the Cantilever Stool, this piece of furniture has been designed by Kuldeep using a dovetail joint (one of the strongest in carpentry). Three composite wood (MDF) planks slide and lock in place by the dovetailed finger joint to form the seat. The planks easily slide out.

Since then, they have collaborated on various projects, including ‘customer experience centers’ for Wipro, retail space and fixture design, office spaces, home interiors, exhibitions and customized hardwood furniture for homes, individuals and institutions.

With so many products in their design-kitty, there had to be favourites. The electro-mechanical installation for the Sadhu Vaswani Museum in Pune, tops the list. The creation is a series of 16-foot long waves, which move to and fro in respect to each other to create a wave pattern. This depicts the Hoogly River on which a Sadhu and his faithful are journeying. Boats are attached to the waves, which move along it with the help of motors and proximity sensors.

Garlic Lamps by Yusuf have been made using butter paper and copper wire. The lights are installed on reclaimed driftwood pieces.

While the trio creates bespoke furniture, they do not have a retail outlet yet. However, they do intend to start a shop showcasing limited ranges of their products from the various furniture projects. The good news is that they are also in the process of partnering with online furniture portals, where people can view and buy the pieces.

Time to brace yourselves for a furniture fiesta!

Some more images…