RESHU ARYAL DHUNGANA
From the days when furnishing was solely done by local artisans of Bagbazar, we've come to times when ornately customised or luxurious imports can be delivered to our doorsteps.
Kathmandu's homes now have sofa sets, coffee tables and cupboards designed and crafted in Thailand, Malaysia and China. Status conscious urbanites now rattle off brand names for designer furniture like SB, Kian and Hinlim. From simply space planning their homes, people are shifting towards creating an ambience and setting moods for their homes.
"As families and living spaces are getting smaller and smaller, people these days prefer smart furnishing," says Devendra Man Singh of Rich Interior. Today, urban Nepalis are paying as much attention to the insides of their homes as they do to the outside look. What's out is the shoddy furniture made from unseasoned local hardwood, what's in are slick furnishings with steel, glass, synthetic wood and plush upholstery.
SUBASH KUMAR DASH
"People opt for foreign goods simply because they want something unique as well as durable," says SB Furniture's Sudarshan Joshi. Unlike previous times, people now give more importance to the design and shades of their furniture.
Says Siddharth Gopalan of Emporios: "Priorities have changed. Along with function, people now go for design."
Not only is it comforting to come to a personalised, well furnished room but it is good for the mind as well, says Madan Joshi of Furniture Land. "A child who grows up in bright and modern surroundings is more creative and efficient," he says. Research has shown that children learn through visual senses and having colourful objects makes them more alert.
It's overwhelming when you step into a furniture showroom and find such a wide range of goods to select from. Most showrooms have mock ups, or model structures to make things easier. If that isn't enough, outlets themselves provide professional help, from interior counseling to designing the entire house.
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DEVENDRA MAN SINGH
Says Hitesh Golchha of Fusion: "Designing your home is a personal matter, so we work as semi-interior designers, helping customers on request."
Seeing the shifting trend, Nepali furniture manufacturers are also stepping in with their own designs. Imported goods are more eye-catching than locally made ones, but sometimes there are doubts about durability. Says Golchha: "Not all imported furniture is necessarily good, and the same goes for local furniture."
MIN RATNA BAJRACHARYA
Karuna Interior's Bipin Mishra says: "Imported furniture last only about eight to ten years but locally made ones last generations." And it isn't just about durability, says Kabindra Pradhan of Wood Craft, a Nepali company that makes modern furniture. "Mass produced furniture look all the same. But when you have it custom made, it becomes your own."
Binod Tamrakar of Mac D?cor is also in the furniture business, but says it is difficult to find good craftsmen. "After working for a year or two and learning the skills, most just go abroad," he says. Anita Shrestha of Bira Furniture adds, "We also have problems keeping the labourers happy. Only recently we had to close down the warehouse because the workers went on strike".
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By buying Nepali-made furniture, you help create jobs and use local resources and promote local industry. Says Reshu Aryal Dhungana: "It is all about encouraging creativity while innovating new ideas, and furthermore you help directly or indirectly employ more Nepalis."
But Kathmandu isn't the only place with fancy furniture showrooms. Ultimate D?cor has a branch in Pokhara as well. Says Sujil Shrestha, "People outside the valley are catching on to the trend."
Flooring is just as important as furnishing, and here most homeowners are opting for more durable imitation wood flooring. Imported from Belgium, Berry Floor offers a variety of flooring options in nine different colours. Says Prakash Ghimire, "We have a patent lock system where the joint edges stay intact and do not warp with time."
It is clear more and more Nepali city-dwellers are increasingly paying attention to the interior of their houses than the exterior. After all, they spend more time inside their homes and therefore the new aspiration to make furniture and flooring modern, bright and functional.
Sabhyata Timsina and Subeksha Poudel