Taking yet another leap forward in the sustainable revolution, Jaipur’s Spriha Chokhani’s originator studio, Pulp Factory, makes high quality furniture from papier-mache. They also have textile products with cloth made of paper— bags, totes and the sky is the limit from there.
Set up in 2017, Pulp Factory is run by Spriha and her team of four whom she has taught her innovative art of using paper. “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 included that her cousin Bharat assists with the fund of the firm.
Despite the fact that an official unit for Pulp Factory was established in 2017, Spriha began trying different things 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.
However, it should in any case be amazing to try and envision a seat produced using mash which can bear 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.
Pulp Factory takes around 25 days to convert papers into furniture and summer is the time they work the most while the rainy season gives them an opportunity to test and develop. What’s more, utilizing papers is critical to their cycle. “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 told the journal.