‘Lakood’ is an entrepreneurial venture of architect couple Reshma and Ameet Sukhtankar, who believe in high precision interior design as their philosophy at work
What started as off an idea to improve the quality of wooden furniture in Goa grew into a professional, stable industry for local artisans, started by Ameet and Reshma Sukhthankar. The power couple wanted to create a connection to their Konkan heritage and background with the help of their company. “Our goal is to provide an umbrella to our traditional artisans and make them understand the values of contemporary design through which we are able to say that a Goan product is at par with any product in the world,” said Ameet. One of their initial goals was to provide employment and work with traditional Goan carpenters. The couple found and managed to retain quite a few of them. Today, solely local Goans run a section of their company from Pernem, although maintaining the consistency throughout the pandemic was a challenge.
“For the last 20-22 years, we have been designing furniture for homes. Essentially, a large part of the work gets done with timber,” says Ameet while talking about their close connection to wood. With hand tools and machinery available at their facility, it is easier for them to experiment with different ideas. Their products are mainly composed of various forms of wood, “What used to happen earlier was that carpenters would use a lot of nails, not joineries. Over here, we have wooden parts that are fixed together with wood, like wooden dowels, so there’s no question of foreign pieces like metals to join the furniture”, said Reshma.
With design being an essential part of creating furniture, Ameet opens up on how designing completely new ideas each time is a long and cumbersome process. “Design is an important part of what we do, and unfortunately in India, design has a very low value, which is why every time you build a house, people expect the architect to design a unique bed, but designing is very special as it takes a lot of time to design something, whether it’s a bed or a side table.” At Lakood, they try to see how one design can be used in various situations. They design contemporary ideas that can be personalised according to their client’s tastes, while the essential design component should remain constant, “The material, colours can vary according to a person’s taste. But the heart of the piece is the same”, said Reshma. One of their goals is to allow their designer products to reach a more extensive Indian clientele. “Designer furniture should be accessible to one and all in our country. It shouldn’t be privileged to the elite few. There was a time when people couldn’t go to designers, but with this, you don’t need to go to an Ikea. With Lakood, one gets an affordable product, which is sustainable and sturdy for the long term. It is a complete value for design, pricing, and longevity”, said Reshma.
The dynamic duo launched their factory in November 2019, and despite the pandemic, Lakood continued to grow and excel. Their friends and well-wishers were supportive and confident in assigning them projects. “Interestingly, covid was a big boon for us. Because we were effectively completing the projects without carpenters on-site, many people realized that the social interaction was minimized. They didn’t need to get the carpenters working on their site. We convinced clients that we could get projects done in the factory and delivered to their doorstep with minimum interaction with people and during covid times, that was a very important thing,” says Ameet about taking up pan India projects. Learning within this ever-changing industry is a constant process, “We are still learning, learning is a continuous process, we started off on a blank page despite being in the industry for 20 years. When we started Lakood, we were as good as amateurs because everything had to be reconfigured. We must have done a few hundred wardrobes, but when it came to designing that first wardrobe, all that we learned had to be unlearnt and then re-learnt,” says Reshma. When asked about why they thought of starting a company solely dedicated to wooden furniture, Ameet says, “The main reason we started Lakood was not to set up an enterprise. We realized that when you do furniture at the site, you don’t have the right environment for polishing; with dust all over, we couldn’t come to the level of the quality that we desired. We didn’t want to compromise on that. If we started something today, tomorrow it can be managed by someone else, but at least we will have a facility where the furniture for our projects is made of the best quality possible.”
With the world moving forward at full throttle, architects must aim to improve the skill sets related to the building industry in whatever way possible. “Today our carpenters have the best of accommodation, employee state insurance – things that they didn’t have before. They have also officially come into an organised industry, which is a good contribution to furniture making that can be done for anything in architecture”, adds Ameet, while encouraging architects to promote such practices.
As for Lakood’s future, “We are going to get into retail. Right now, we are doing our own projects designed at MSS Designs. We do mass customisation projects for other architects, and builders and product designs for other industry and hotel projects, as well; but soon we will be starting our retail line, where we want to go online and make it pan-India retail work,” says Reshma about their future goals.