The traditional perception of bamboo as a low cost material for short term applications coupled with meager financial returns has kept this sector from developing into a full-fledged industry. In Sindhudurg district in Maharashtra, there are a large number of women artisans skilled in bamboo craft, but they refrain from practising it due to lack of economic returns.
The conventional sheets produced locally were coloured with substandard pigments which faded within a few months and were small in size used for making cheap products. Due to various technical constrains of the raw material, the large sheets produced were made of thick slivers that ended up as phenol bonded boards. Also, life of the conventional bamboo mats was not more than a year and would easily get infected by pests deteriorating the material.
“We realized the potential of conventional bamboo mats and endeavored to revive a dying art by experimenting with it to create a product suitable for modern interiors and landscaping. The company studied the design strategies of some of the unique products around the world and incorporated hardcore design intervention to create a sophisticated version of the bamboo mats. The strategy included redesigning and redeveloping the product by giving it a totally new form, function and aesthetics as well as upgrading the existing skill levels.” said Rajesh Pattani.
This design intercession to create new patterns and designs led to the new eco-friendly alternative to surface lamination called Chiva – meaning bamboo in the local lingua. The handcrafted laminate is now increasingly being used for furniture and other interior surface application in restaurants and resorts for its rich ethnic look and environmental benefits.
Greenearth Culture identified skilled weavers and refined their bamboo weaving techniques, established quality standards and introduced upgraded tools & equipment in each individual part of the pre-process of preparing the base materials by the local artisans. The quality of the bamboo mats was further enhanced by treating it with eco-friendly preservatives and natural dyes for extended life. The products include pre-engineered bamboo cottages, gazebos, railings, fencings, decks, thatched roofs and pathway lamps in tropical style produced with authentic treated bamboo.
There is a lot of hype about the importance of using eco-friendly products but self rejuvenating bamboo is one product that truly addresses the sustainability issue. Moreover, reviving the traditional skill on the verge of redundancy highlights the importance of rural skills for urban needs.