Published: 31st August 2020
This Jaipur designer is making furniture, bags and textile from newspapers. Here's how
Set up in 2017, Pulp Factory is run by Spriha and her four-member team who she has trained over time to use the paper pulp as the medium
Have you ever thought of sitting on a chair made from your newspaper and reading the morning news? Well, if you have, your low-budget Inception dreams can be fulfilled. Not by Christopher Nolan but by Spriha Chokhani from Jaipur. Spriha's designer studio, Pulp Factory, makes handmade furniture from papier-mache. They also make products out of paper textile — bags, totes and more.
Set up in 2017, Pulp Factory is run by Spriha and her four-member team who she has trained over time to use the paper pulp as the medium. "Jainarayan, our weaver, is a master with the loom. He just needed a little time to get used to the new material. The women who work with me, on the other hand, came with no experience. We trained them for six months and gradually they not only learnt the craft but have acquired managerial skills as well. Neetu Devi helps me make the furniture and during the lockdown, she has been helping with managing the studio as well. Radha Devi, who spins the yarn, has not only become a master at her work but is also a totally different person now — brighter and smarter," said Spriha and added that her cousin Bharat helps with the finance of the firm.
Even though an official unit for Pulp Factory was founded in 2017, Spriha started experimenting with paper furniture back when she was a student at Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Bengaluru. "When I first started, I just wanted to make furniture from paper. I started working with paper pulp and synthetic adhesives but about two weeks into it I realised that using chemicals had taken a toll on my health. That's when I started shifting to natural adhesives and it gradually evolved to trying to build a sustainable set of products," said Spriha.
But it should still be mind-boggling to even imagine a chair made from pulp which can endure 80 to 100 kgs of weight. "It is a misconception that papier-mache is fragile. We have seen masks made out of it which give us this idea. But these masks are made by mixing the pulp with Multani mitti and thus it loses the strength. This is cellulose which in itself is a strong medium and it gets stronger when you mix it with adhesives as the binding agent," said the 33-year-old designer who spent her early years in Assam.
Pulp Factory takes about 25 days to transform newspapers into furniture and summer is the time they work the most while the monsoon gives them time to experiment and evolve. And using newspapers is important to their process. "Paper like A4 sheets can be recycled to be turned into the thinner paper like the newspapers but a newspaper can be recycled only up to seven times. It made more sense to make the pulp from this," she added.