AI4_18_2017_1_57_37_AM_Topi_Pehnao.jpg
AI4_18_2017_1_57_37_AM_Topi_Pehnao.jpg
Workspace 14 Apr 2017

Made in India: Restoring Indian Heritage, Tile by Tile

Founded in 1922, Bharat Floorings and Tiles has been restoring decades of tangible Indian culture through the ‘Made in India’ collection. Imprinting peculiarities of 6 Indian states onto handcrafted cement tiles, this series brings to life stories, traditions, landscapes, experiences and the life of the people.

Bharat Floorings and Tiles, associated with the design panorama of the city has been contributing to the nation’s economic independence, since 1922. Bharat Tiles marks its presence over numerous structures in the city of Mumbai. From rugged civic structures, cafés, restaurants and hotels to bustling train stations, chances are that you’ve stepped onto BFT tiles, at least once.

A pioneer in the cement tiles industry, BFT was founded on the principles of the Swadeshi movement under visionaries, Pheroze and Rustom Sidhwa. Making use of German and Italian technology, the tiles were customized to suit Indian soil resulting in the production of beautiful coloured tiles, eventually seizing imports in line with the movement.{{image-1}}{{image-2}}

Sustaining the concept BFT was founded upon, Firdaus Variava, the grandson of Pheroze Shah and team has been working to restore and replicate heritage we once saw through pictorial depictions. With an attempt to introduce the country’s culture, art and heritage, BFT launched the exclusive ‘Made in India’ tile collection. Travelling back to its roots, BFT exhibits characteristics of six Indian states, namely Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Kashmir, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Maharashtra, and imprints its cultural speciality onto tiles through the ‘Made in India’ series. Picking out stories and eccentricities each state has to offer, the collection was put together, tile by tile.

Madhya Pradesh{{image-3}} 

Inspired by the Gonds from the Vindhyas, Mandla and Satpura forests in the Narmada region and their detailed artwork, Gond art tiles were created.

The detailing on tiles display vivid colours, lines, motifs, art and the life of the people.

Rajasthan{{image-4}}

Jharokha, a celebrated beauty usually seen in Rajput and Mughal architecture is employed as a stone window or an enclosed overhanging balcony. The design of the Jharokha tile draws inspiration from the ceilings, colours, frames, palaces and the life of the people.

Kashmir{{image-5}}  

The Pashmina range depicts designs seen on the Pashmina shawls found in Kashmir. These entail several patterns including those of floral and landscape.

Tamil Nadu{{image-6}}

The Kolam range is a representation of Kolam drawings made from chalk powder or rice flour. The drawings pattern dots, curved loops and geometrical lines and seek inspiration from rangoli, motifs and the traditions of the state.

Gujarat{{image-7}} 

The Bandhani range showcases tie-and-dye diamonds that are usually seen patterned over traditional fabric associated with Gujarat. Motifs and murals that seem to have dated back to the 5th century have been a major inspiration to these tiles.

Maharashtra{{image-8}} 

The Modak range has been inspired by the traditional sweet of Maharashtra that looks curvy at the bottom and thins out upwards. The colour palette of the tiles is inspired by the food, sweets and the festivals of the state.

While each tile tells the story of an important part of f history against itself, its production is very detailed. BFT follows a stringent 8-step course to produce beautiful heritage tiles at their Palghar production house, with tiles made available in dimensions of 20cm x 20cm, 30cm x 30cm and 40cm x 40cm.

8-Step Course

It’s Milling Time{{image-9}} 

Initiating the 8-step course with the production process, the procured colours are milled and blended together for a specific amount of time, such that the mixture reaches the desired shade.

The Beauty of Stencils{{image-10}} 

Each time a new design is authored, an artisan works to produce a metal stencil supporting the same. These well-qualified artisans construct the stencil by hand, which could take a minimum of twenty days. The stencil is fashioned such that it helps segregate the colours within, equally.

Topi Pehnao{{image-11}} 

(translates to “putting a cap on the head of another” in English)

Infusing the backing layer of cement to the mould, the cap or ‘topi’ that rests on the top presses down the tile.

Pressure Tactics{{image-12}} 

Having inserted the mould into the press, the topi presses into the mould with the help of hydraulic pressure. This makes the tile solid and enables its removal further on. As a matter of fact, each tile is compressed in about a few seconds.

Solid Stuff{{image-13}} 

The pressing of the tile enables a firm and quick removal from the mould.

A Tile is Born{{image-14}} 

Making a tile is one and extracting a hot pressed tile is another.  The skilled artisans at BFT have been trained to carefully withdraw a fresh tile, so as not to damage it in a hurry. Each tile is then laid to rest in their appointed racks.

Getting Some Rest{{image-15}}

The tiles are left to cool down on a rack until moved to the curing tank.

Baptism for the Babies{{image-16}}

At this stage, the cemented tiles are baptized in water until the completion of the curing. Tiles require water to thorough the hydration process, which only makes it stronger. Dried and packed, the tiles would now be shipped to the customer.  

On Heritage

Collaborating with conservation heritage architects, BFT works to restore vintage buildings in and around Mumbai . Replicating Minton Tiles, Bharat Floorings took to restore heritage properties such as the Royal Bombay Yacht Club.

Royal Bombay Yacht Club

Collaborating with conservation architect, Vikas Dilawari, BFT bagged a UNESCO award for the conservation of this property in 2012.  Built in the year 1846, the Yacht Club sourced Minton tiles for their flooring. Re-matching Minton Tiles at the Club, BFT looked into the smallest details to overthrow any error. From the customisation of the colours and design, process of its production to the placement of the tiles, every tiny bit was replicated.  BFT bagged a second UNESCO award for the conservation of the The Bhau Daji Lad Museum in collaboration with Dilawari. A few other restoration projects include the BMC headquarters, Mani Bhavan, and the Royal Opera House.{{image-17}} 

Venturing out of tiles, BFT also introduces IPS and Micro-cement flooring, wall cladding and a brand new range of concrete products that they house at their office alone. More about the differences between Minton, Bharat Flooring Cement Tiles and Athangudi Tiles in the next article.{{image-18}}{{image-19}}