Traditional designs with a twist

January 12, 2018 13:08 PM Swasti Gautam

“We were a group of four friends who were extremely passionate about product designing. Every time we met we would discuss about collaborating and creating a space to work together,” says Nim Joshi, one of the co-founders of Metalwood Nepal. “All of us were from different backgrounds but our determination to make unique furniture and accessories brought us together,” he adds.

Nim Joshi along with Jitendra Shrestha, Nicholas Mary, and Niraj Joshi founded Metalwood Nepal in 2016. Metalwood Nepal is a workshop where distinctive home and office use furniture and accessories are created. Their products are primarily made of metal and wood and are inspired by minimalism, functionality, and Nepali culture. The determination to create something new can definitely be reflected on their products which are an amalgamation of traditional Nepali exteriors and modern designs.

A creative working space

 Metalwood Nepal has three different workshops in a single place. The first is where architects, designers, and managers work together to ideate their designs. The second workshop is for their metalworkers and the last workshop is for carpenters. “All of us work as a team. The best part about this office is there is no hierarchy,” says Rajaram Sharma, a carpenter. 

Their office certainly seems like an informal space with unlimited supply of coffee and a beautiful table tennis court. “My work does not feel like work. It may be because everyone is open to ideas and all of us love what we do,” says architect Hemantika RL Palikhe. 

“Working here is a lot of fun. There are very less restrictions and, as a result, our creativity is utilized to its fullest,” says Sanjeev Shrestha, an architect. According to him, at Metalwood, he is able to explore a lot in the field of architecture. He is also interested in opening his own product design company in the future. 

Some staff members were working at Metalwood Nepal to gain experience in the field of architecture. “Before you establish your own company, you need to learn about the technical details. This place is certainly the best place to learn. In the future I want to open my own creative empire,” says Gaurav Maskey, an architect. The best part about this place is that young employees not only gain experience but also learn to use traditional Nepali skills in an innovative way. 

The company also designs products keeping everyone’s views and ideas in mind.  “Our views and ideas are always taken into consideration while making a product. Educated or not, we do not face any discrimination,” says Hanka Bahadur Tamar, metal worker and metal work supervisor. 

Authentic modernity

 “When you come to visit our workshop, you will not leave the place without feeling nostalgic,” says Niraj, co-founder of Metalwood Nepal. Their products are a blend of Nepali designs and global esthetics. “Utensils such as ‘gagro’ which used to be an essential part of every Nepali household are not in use anymore. We reinvent traditional Nepali utensils made of brass and copper in order to create new and attractive designs. That is why our furniture items are unique,” adds Niraj. 

Metalwood Nepal not only creates home and office use furniture but they also work as interior designers. “You might want to design a corner of your room, your restaurant or your entire house. Metalwood is a one stop solution for all your essential décor needs,” says co-founder Jitendra. “From kitchens and dining rooms to living rooms and toilets, Metalwood designs everything. We also ensure smooth and active work,” he adds. 

The company is also adamant in providing quality homemade products to its customers. “When you go somewhere to shop for furniture, you rarely find products that suit your taste and demands. Most of the products are designed abroad in a different setting. Not only do we create products that are practical to use but our designs will definitely lend a Nepali touch to your exterior,” says Nim. 

Quality is certainly their first priority. “Our products are Nepal made. So, if you want you can actually come to our workshop and see the progress of your orders. And in case of a problem with our product or delivery, you can contact us directly,” he adds. 

Metal and wood are two very important components of any furniture. But this combination is extremely difficult to find in our local market. “The unique blend of metal and wood is what makes our work different from others,” says Nicholas, one of the four co-founders of Metalwood Nepal. 

The best part about their designs is that they are in sync with the latest trends. The makers of these furniture have kept in mind the paucity of spaces in todays world and created very light and minimalistic designs. Their products also celebrate traditional craftsmanship and designs. 

The local makers 

 All products at Metalwood Nepal are handmade and are crafted by local metalworkers, carpenters, and artisans. “Our lamps are special because they are made of local materials such as brass and copper and are produced by local Newari artisans working in Patan. Our goal is to promote and preserve local artisans and their skills,” says Nim. 

“If we do not preserve their skills and talent at this stage, we will soon lose our identity. In this age of globalization, it is important to preserve our traditional knowledge and skills. Blindly emulating the west will lead to the loss of our national and cultural distinctiveness,” he adds. 

“Nepal has a lot of opportunities. We want to create employment here,” says Nicholas who is originally from France. “Many people tell me that they want to go to my country to work and better their standard of living. But I have been living in Nepal for eight years now and I think Nepal has a lot of scope,” he adds. According to him, Nepal is a blooming market and there is a lot one can do in Nepal. Nicholas is happy with his business and with the fact that he has been able to impart skills and opportunities to many Nepalis. 

Khagendra Karki, who is a metal shaper at Metalwood Nepal, had previously worked in Malaysia. “Work there was difficult and our pay was very less. We had to be away from our family and work for more than 17 hours a day. Life was extremely tough there. I’m happy that companies such as Metalwood Nepal are now able to give us employment,” says Karki. 

Another metal worker named Bijaya Negi had a similar story to share. “I used to work in Qatar. Their culture, religion, food and lifestyle were completely different. It is sad that thousands of youth have to go abroad every year merely to earn. I’m happy to be home and I have a regular income in my own land,” says Negi adding that he hopes more companies like Metalwood Nepal is established here to provide more youths employment opportunities.

Conquering struggles

 Creating and implementing new designs is certainly not an easy task. The company faces various difficulties while ideating, making, and implementing each design. “One of the biggest hurdles we face is lack of skilled manpower,” says Nicholas. “But at the same time we are also trying to empower local manpower by training them,” he adds. 

Another big challenge faced by this company is to meet up with the rising demands of their customers and deliver the products on time. “Nepal does not have commercial forest farming. At times we even fall short of raw materials as out country is not working under an industrial system,” says Nim. “But we work more than 12 hours each day to give our customers the best of everything,” he adds.

The company aims to be an example for budding entrepreneurs and talented youths of Nepal. They want to teach the youth that opportunities can be created in Nepal. The only thing that is needed is hard work. “You will face numerous challenges in your career and in life. The trick is to do what you love and never give up. Nepal is a beautiful country and all of us must do our bit for the betterment of it,” says Jitendra. 

Nim further adds, “We never had big goals, we just knew we wanted to do something different and innovative. As a team we are extremely happy to be contributing towards Nepal’s economy.”

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