The Wood Pickers

The Delhi-based studio Knock on Wood focuses on creating well-crafted, bespoke furniture pieces that celebrate the raw, natural beauty of wood.

Aarti Agarwal copy
Product designer: Aarti Aggarwal

The adage ‘knock on wood’, variations of which are commonly used by people across the globe to avoid bad omens, finds its roots in pagan folklore wherein good spirits are thought to live in trees, and can be invoked for protection. It isn’t surprising then that product designer Aarti Aggarwal, chose to name the designer furniture studio she founded Knock on Wood (KNW), hoping this would bring tidings of good luck and help overcome any difficulties that came in the way of making the brand a successful one. However, one cannot ignore or undervalue the immense dedication, hard work, skill and sheer creativity that has gone into the making of the studio. Based out of Delhi and Chandigarh, the studio focuses on bespoke hardwood furniture that brings design ideas to life. The name therefore, with its literal and metaphorical connotations, describes the studio perfectly.

Knock on Wood (KNW) is an offshoot of the 15-year-old decor brand, House of Design. When asked of her decision to steer away from the identity of an already established firm, Aarti explains, “Knock on Wood is a new dimension of House of Design, founded with the aim to combat the dearth of custom-created, quality furniture. With KNW, our focus is on high-quality craftsmanship, fine detail and elegant style, where the creations will reflect our inspirations and our customer’s personality.”

Exuding a rustic look, this three-piece coffee island, part of the Forest collection, has been carved out of teak. The parts can each be used as a separate unit, or combined together to form this unusual ensemble.
Exuding a rustic look, this three-piece coffee island, part of the Forest collection, has been carved out of teak. The parts can each be used as a separate unit, or combined together to form this unusual ensemble.

Why choose wood to work almost exclusively with, one asks then? Pat comes the reply, “Wood is a fantastic material; it breathes, changes shape, size and colour — I love the grain, the smell. It has character that demands attention and challenges you to work with it and go beyond it.”However, Aarti’s passion for the material and the shape it takes is not newfound. Its foundation lies in the backyard of her house, where she grew up seeing her father crafting beautiful creations with wood. She then went on to study domestic design at the University of Arts, London and specialized in chair design at the Danish School of Design, Copenhagen.

Carved out of a single log of wood, this six-foot-long coffee table, called Forest Flame, has been treated to give it a natural, burnt finish. Niches have been strategically carved into it to create space for display.
Carved out of a single log of wood, this six-foot-long coffee table, called Forest Flame, has been treated to give it a natural, burnt finish. Niches have been strategically carved into it to create space for display.

In 2000, Aarti founded and spearheaded House of Design, and in 2009, the studio Knock On Wood debuted with its Signature Collection, exemplifying bespoke design and high-quality craftsmanship. This line draws inspiration from the bygone era of Indian royalty as well as the classic, traditional Indian art forms of inlay work and woodcarving. Next came The Mardi Gras Collection which is a celebration of the bold, vivacious elements of wood and aluminium. Here, textured wood is finished to zero gloss for a natural appearance, while a dark walnut stain with black and burgundy undertones creates a beautiful contrast with polished aluminium. Their Art of Life range is a synergy of art and design. Designed by artist Manisha Gawade in collaboration with KNW, this collection takes cues from art for its form, texture and tones.The recently launched Forest collection tells a different story — a celebration of nature at its best. In this beautiful collection, Aarti and her team have played around with bare logs, creating raw, rustic pieces without any embellishments. The bed in this range is crafted using natural teak, rusted mild steel and natural linen. The solid textured wood with an oil finish and steel accents create a strong and stylish vibe. The Cantilever Centre Table comprises a 100 mm L-shaped raw wood log (fruit wood) supported on toughened glass on one end. The wood is seasoned and oiled so that it goes through a natural process of ageing. Ketch, Three Wise Men and Forest Rays are other meticulously crafted products of this range.

Storyteller_3 copySeeing a log of wood being converted into a charming piece of furniture is something that inspires Aarti every day. Acknowledging everyone associated with the brand — eight designers, four engineers and around 45 artisans (some of whom has been working with her since the inception of House of Design) — Aarti believes that she has learnt a lot more from them than from any formal schooling. With such a positive and down-to-earth approach towards her work, her craft, her love of wood and her workmen, the studio has the capability to become synonymous with good, responsible design and authenticity. Knock on wood!

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