U.S. hardwoods have found another foothold in India as commercial manufacturers have now begun to realize the potential benefits of using sustainable and high quality American hardwoods, according to the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), the leading international trade association for the American hardwood industry. Leading the way are established names such as Furnicheer, Ebco and RitikaaWood who are all either trialing or commercially using imported American hardwood species including red and white oak, and tulipwood. Whilst the much-publicized potential offered by India for American hardwood exporters has not yet been realized, these developments prove that the market is at a turning point.
Founded in 2013 as a bespoke manufacturer of solid wood furniture, the story of Furnicheer actually took shape over two decades ago, under the creative-perfectionist hands of interior designer Subhangi Vaidyanathan. After years of experience in interior design, Subhangi took the decision to launch Furnicheer and established the brand’s flagship retail store in Navi Mumbai. Her passion for handicrafts, the need for modular furniture in urban spaces and love for solid wood are the inspiration behind Furnicheer. Positioning itself as a brand of solid wood, modular furniture and lifestyle accessories, crafted specifically for the Indian home, the company has been primarily manufacturing customized home furniture including beds, wardrobes, chests, study, TV consoles, dining sets, and coffee tables.
According to Vaidyanathan, her initial preference was to create her designs with solid woods, such as locally-sourced sheesham (Dalbergia sissoo) and mango, built in-house by skilled craftspeople on high-tech machinery. Besides being hard-wearing, their shades and textures perfectly complement the sunny tropical climate in India. Working with indigenous species however posed several challenges. In addition to being CITES-listed (in the case of sheesham), the biggest challenges in working with mango and sheesham were the lack of consistency in quality, in terms of seasoning (kiln-drying) and also resistance to insect attack. Having been introduced to kiln-dried American tulipwood, Vaidyanathan took the decision to order a container of this unique American hardwood species in 2017 and has never looked back.
“Currently, about 50 percent of our production is in tulipwood. Not only is tulipwood easier to work with, the finish is far superior in comparison to the timbers we were using previously. Testament to our belief in American tulipwood, we have recently started working with Ebco, one of India’s oldest and leading manufacturers in the furniture hardware sector. Previously, Ebco was crafting all of the wooden elements for its accessories using steamed beech. This new agreement means that all wooden accessories for Ebco will now be produced in American tulipwood in our factory in Mumbai. Looking ahead, we’re confident that this will open up a massive opportunity for us and for American hardwoods in India’s booming modular kitchen market,” said Vaidyanathan.