One look at the Instagram feed of The Retyrement Plan and you are sure to be floored by the beauty and vibrant hues of their uniquely designed furniture pieces. A riot of colour, their sofas, chairs, benches, pouffes, stools and swings are perfect if you are looking to introduce a cheery, happy vibe to your home. And the best part? It’s all entirely made up of discarded materials such as tyres, fabric waste and ropes.
The brainchild of designer Anu Tandon Vieira, the brand is all about working directly with craftsmen and giving waste a new lease of life by focusing on the merits of the original material and treating it in a way that befits the intrinsic character of the virgin material. This according to Vieira is upcycling in the truest sense of the word.
The NID Ahmedabad alumnus has been dabbling in a wide range of projects such as textile design for export houses, art direction for films and designing interiors for the Udaipur palace for over two decades. While she was always fascinated by materials, another thing she immensely enjoyed was working with artists and craftsmen. “I have immense respect for them as they have skills imbibed in them for generations. They are inherently talented and not products of any design school. Hence, I feel very strongly about giving craftsmen their due and not use them just as a means to execute our ideas. Respect for their skills, fair wages and ensuring a better quality of life for them are of utmost importance to me,” she says.
This idea led to The Retyrement Plan coming into being in 2012 in a workshop in Goregaon, Mumbai. As Vieira recalls, collaborating with craftsmen in upcycling projects had always been the foundation for her “retirement plan” so she decided to set it in motion by recreating old discarded tyres into furniture, hence the name “Retyrement.” Colourful chindi ropes made from fabric scraps were then woven like cane to cover the tyres and create a variety of pieces. Cane and rattan, too, were brought into the mix for added variety, all of which her dozen or so full-time employees craft into the most beautifully vivid pieces. “It is really interesting to see that waste materials like discarded plastic packaging wrappers, extra ends of sari falls and edges of playing cards that are disposed after trimming are strong, sturdy and ideal for upcycling,” she adds.
Since inception, the brand has grown organically and Vieira has worked not only with end customers and architects but also designed furniture for cafes and offices. Customers who reach out are given a view of their look book and the pieces can be customised based on size, pattern and colour.
Most of the material is sourced from Gujarat and Vieira has slowly worked on a system where she gets the waste segregated at source, sorted by colours and then crafted into ropes. “Initially, duplicating a piece or making an entire range that was colour cohesive was a challenge. But not anymore, as I have been able to control the raw material supply,”she explains.
In fact, Vieira has trained several young men in weaving, encouraging them to take pride in crafting something handmade. With a journey that is as inspiring and innovative, she is not only doing what she loves, but has also managed to make a difference to the artisans’ lives while providing earth-friendly and sustainable choices. Clearly, a win-win for all.