When I came across “I am drawn to furniture design as complete architecture on a minor scale” a quote by Brad Pitt it reminded me of Monica Echavarria Modak whose similar passion led to the inception of KAYU with her friend Ritu Vij. First look at their furniture urged me to create romantic spaces within the confines of our sweet home for the coming Valentine and many more years to come.
Monica: I was born and brought up in Colombia, South America. Since a very early age I knew I had to live with art around me. I painted, did ceramics, designed etc. I graduated with a degree in Architecture from the University of Notre Dame in the US. My husband is from Mumbai and so India has been a part of my life for many years.
Ritu: I was born and brought up in Delhi. My father was a pilot with Indian airlines so we travelled around the world from a very young age. With the travels came influences and observations.
My mother, though not qualified as a designer, has an amazing eye for design and so our home was always trendy and modern …so my interest in homes and furnishings stemmed from there.
Monica: I worked in the United States as an architect, designing high-end residential and commercial projects. My husband’s work took us to the Asia Pacific region moving to many countries where I worked on several architectural projects adapting to different design and cultural imperatives. While posted in India, I focused on designing interiors for the offices of various multinational companies based in Delhi. Due to an intrinsic lack of available high quality modern furniture in India at that time, I designed and produced my own high-end furniture pieces for both the residential and commercial work. Being a ‘minimalist’ then, was an unknown design concept in the 90’s in India. When I came back to India years later it was in vogue.
Ritu: After I got married I had the opportunity to live in many countries as an expat. So we moved 11 times and lived in 5 different countries. Every move made me realise the importance of having furniture that would fit in each house looking trendy and homely at the same time.
Monica: While working in Indonesia, I developed a deep sense of appreciation for that country’s furniture design and creative use of materials. My somewhat cold minimalism yielded to a warmer organic design ethos based on an amalgam of wood, stone and other natural materials used so beautifully by the local artisans. There I developed a love for natural, organic looking spaces which are minimalistic in colour and form, but rich in textures.
I then went on to design, produce and export these beautiful one-of-a-kind pieces to Ecuador and now we also have a showroom in Colombia. Last year in November 2013 we brought our collection to India, where we launched our brand KAYU.
Ritu: It means wood in Bahasa, the official language of Indonesia, as most of our furniture is designed and made in Bali with raw materials coming from other parts of the country.
Monica: KAYU believes in interiors that are simple, clean and uncluttered yet includes richness and warmth with one-of-a-kind pieces that have imbibed the soul of the artisans. You feel like touching them as they seem to have a soul which lends the residential interiors the feel of a home which is unique and welcoming.
Ritu: The fascinating part of Indonesian furniture is the wood. This is because of the variety of species that are found in the millions of hectares of forest land. One needs to use this gift of nature responsibly and legally.
Each of these unique pieces are hand carved and finished from a single block of Suar wood– a non endangered, fast growing tropical hardwood (also known as monkeypod tree) or Sono wood which is a large deciduous tree growing to 30–40 m tall, with a trunk up to 2m diameter. This hardwood is termite resistant and rose-scented just like Tamirind or Heart Wood which is also used by us and is seen in tropical regions worldwide. We have some unique organically shaped furniture and artefacts from Teak roots which had been left underground for hundreds of years and are now extracted by local farmers.
Keeping this in mind we have concentrated on simple yet modern furniture playing with finishes enhanced by their beautiful grains and colour in its natural form, to the hilt.
At the moment our collection can be viewed by appointment on
+91 firstname.lastname@example.org at geetanjali enclave, new delhi
–second floor studio……417 shahpur jat, new delhi
–inspirato, 2nd floor, south point mall, gurgaon
all under our brand name KAYU