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Audiogyan (founded in 2016) is a collection of conversations with luminaries of the Indian creative world. It’s a passion project to document thoughts and ideas of Indian designers, artists, musicians, writers, thinkers, and luminaries of the creative world.


45: Importance of hand made tiles with Firdaus Variava

Episode 1 of 5 featuring Firdaus Variava. This is a 5 part series with Bharat Flooring and tiles and Audiogyan. In the coming weeks we will be talking with various artists, heritage conservationist, brand creators, illustrators and architects associated with Bharat Flooring & Tiles.
Those who don’t know what is Bharat Flooring & Tiles, (btw, we will be calling it BFT throughout the series). It’s a company formed in 1922 which is leader in quality cement  flooring and has been primarily making customised, handmade cement tiles. The timeless elegance and durability of these tiles make them works of art and an invaluable part of the country’s architectural heritage. It started as part of the Swadeshi movement and with over 90 years of reputation, BFT is now the most preferred choice of interior designers and architects across India, You can find relevant links in the show notes about BFT.
Today I have Firdaus Variava, Vice Chairman of BFT with us on Audiogyan. He has worked in diverse fields such as telecom, trading, and market research prior to joining Bharat Floorings. Firdaus is responsible for the sales team and for all activities related to marketing. In addition, he is responsible for creation of new products to cater to specific market segments and needs and for strategic planning. You can expect him to be partly host and partly guest in upcoming episode of this series.
But today he is our main guest. We will be discussing history of BFT and importance of hand made tiles.
Can you start by sharing the brief history of BFT? How did it start and what were the ups and down during second world war? I was reading about how Pherozeshah Sidhwa and his nephew Rustom Sidhwa was approached by Jamshed Nusserwanji Mehta, to start an enterprise to boost India’s economic freedom that time?
It seems Pherozesha was very particular about quality that he dumped the first batch of White and black tiles worth 50,000 (in 1922) into the ocean because he didn’t like the output. Can you share his vision and how he and his team saw it through. Some other notable names in building the brand?
Handmade cement tiles are unique and are expected to have slight imperfections which gives them their inherent depth and character. Can you set the context by telling us, what is so unique and valuable about handmade tiles generally? I believe it also lend it’s nature to Wabi Sabi form. Can you tell us more about it?
How are tiles made at Bharat Flooring? Back when you guys started, you had 10 colours. Today BFT has more than 28 colours. Why and what was the journey like? What is the process of introducing colours? How do you decide which colour will work for your expected TG?
You have been working with few contemporary artists to bring variety in your catalogue. What is the thought behind that?
Which characteristic of BFT transpires across which makes it cater to such a wide range of clientele? Age old buildings like, The Bombay Central Station, Reserve Bank of India, Mantralaya, Breach Candy hospital, Santa Cruz Airport, Express Towers, Air India and LIC buildings, as well as the Bombay Gymkhana Club to new age places like, Smoke House Deli, Socials and more…?
What are few design or branding guidelines which you are adhering to, to keep it Indian yet contemporary?

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