Monday, 30 April 2018

Handcrafted to perfection!

In 1922, Bharat Floorings and Tiles was founded on the belief to evolve the nation. When The Bharat Flooring tile company first started in 1922, in Uran, there was no electricity, water or telephone service. The only links with Bombay (now Mumbai) were the fishing boats which plied when the weather was fair. The Sidhwa family owned large sheds in Uran to manufacture liquor from mogra and rose flowers, oranges and other fruits. Since the sheds lay idle after the British introduced prohibition, the tiles were produced in those sheds and travelled from there to all parts of India. As part of the Swadeshi movement, our founders pioneered the cement tiles industry in the country, producing tiles of international quality to replace imports, and building the company on the principles of quality, integrity and service.

The founder of The Bharat flooring tile company in 1922 travelled across Europe and USA and bought the finest elements of this art form to India. They modified and created fresh designs to suit Indian taste and developed a unique process to suit the conditions. In 1923, when Pherozesha was dissatisfied with a batch of black and white tiles made for Sir Cowasji Jehangir’s New Readymoney Mansion (Flora Fountain/Hutatma Chowk) in Mumbai, he stopped the delivery and took the dramatic step of having the entire batch thrown into the sea. When he travelled to Europe to find the remedy, he was told his tiles were perfect, only the polishing was not! The new batch is still found in parts of this building, even after 90 years!

The invention of coloured cement in Europe in the late 19th century introduced the exciting possibilities of encaustic cement flooring tiles that would grow more beautiful over the years if the tiles were maintained efficiently.

The tiles produced were of fantastic quality and in a few years, Bharat Tiles were chosen over the imported tiles not just by the maharajas in 1934 during the Raj period and by affluent patriotic Indians, but also by Britishers!

Manufacturing cement tiles is an art form, passed down from generation to generation. None of these tiles is uniform in pattern. The manufacturing process is very tedious since each tile is made by the hand step by step. The steps are as follows –

     1) Blending – The pigment composition is a mixture of high-quality white Portland cement, marble powder and natural mineral colour pigments. Then the ingredients are blended together carefully over a period of hours to produce the final colours.

     2) Molding – The colours are filled by hand with a metal mold. The pigment gets poured into the mould, colour by colour, exactly according to the desired pattern. The metal mold, containing the desired pattern is handmade from specific design drawings. Handmade cement tiles are unique and are expected to have slight imperfections in them maybe in terms of colour shades or design pattern. No line on the cement tile will be straight, which gives them character and depth in the designs.

    3) Compressing – A cork in the form of a strong metal plate is applied at the top of the mold and the tile is pressed using a mechanical hydraulic press. The pressure applied is up to 1 ton per square inch, which produces a compact tile.

     4) Hardening – After pressing the tiles are removed from the mold and placed on the rack until they are hard enough too moved into a tank of water. The tiles are emerged to harden in a water bath for 24 hours. Lastly, the tiles are stored in dry storage racks for 7 days, for the final hardening process.

These cement tiles are made by hand, one at a time, using coloured pigments. The coloured pigments are blended together with the cement material, then poured into the mould which is handmade, following which they are hydraulically pressed into the surface to become a part of the tile...Unlike mass produced products, slight irregularities in lines and some variation in shades are the hallmark and charm of handcrafted products. The setting process of cement generates heat, hence like certain Chinese porcelain glazes, this may create fine cracks known as crazing, which enhances their antique look. The elegance of Bharat’s floor art is timeless, and their silken sheen improves over the years.

The standard size of these tiles is 20cm*20cm. Since it is made by hand, the time for delivery takes 4-6 weeks. As they say – True art takes time!

Friday, 20 April 2018

Preserving what matters!

There are some immensely beautiful restoration projects that BFT has done in the past couple of years. It has indeed been an honour to be a part of such significant contributions to the preservation of India’s rich heritage and incredible architectural marvels. Bharat’s Heritage™ Tiles are a part of the Heritage Gallery & Interpretation Centre at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus Mumbai and have found their place in the grandest of royal palaces and plush Raj Bhavans. BFT has been a part of several landmark restorations including the Cathedral & John Connon School, the Salar Jung Museum and Mumbai’s oldest museum, the Bhau Daji Lad Museum. Iconic buildings everywhere are being restored by India’s leading architects relying on Bharat’s Heritage™ tiles and flooring experience. The icing on the cake, for BFT, is being chosen for awards from UNESCO for Cultural Heritage Conservation.

Royal Bombay Yacht Club

Royal Bombay Yacht Club is an iconic structure at Apollo Bunder that has, over the years seen many prominent visitors. The Bombay Yacht Club was founded in 1846 with Henry Morland as club commodore and 30 years later - on the recommendation of Sir Philip Edmond Wodehouse and the patronage of Queen Victoria became known as Royal Bombay Yacht Club. After its sympathetic restoration, the Royal Bombay Yacht Club Residential Chambers received an award of merit in the 2013 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards and was chosen out of 47 entries from 16 countries!
The Yacht club was restored by prominent architect and the brains behind the restoration of several gems in the city of Mumbai, Mr. Vikas Dilawari. The restoration of this striking structure involved recreating the old Minton floor, and hence Bharat Floorings & Tiles was called upon to create the desired result. Several prototypes were created over a period of many months until the floor was a close replica of the original floor. The depth and complexity of the flooring is evident since, while a normal Heritage™ floor would be composed of at most 2 or 3 elements, the Yacht Club floor has 6 elements! These tiles are so beautiful and look even better on display in the lobby area of the grand Royal Bombay Yacht Club. It is a matter of great pride for BFT to be associated with the restoration of this prominent structure located on the city’s breath-taking coastline.

Bhau Daji Lad Museum

The Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum is an institution of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. The Museum was established in 1872 as the erstwhile Victoria and Albert Museum, Bombay. As Mumbai’s first Museum, it showcases the city’s cultural heritage and history through a rare collection of Fine and Decorative Arts that highlight Early Modern Art practices as well as the craftsmanship of various communities of the Bombay Presidency. The museum won the 2005 UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage Award of Excellence for Conservation. 

The tile used in this museum is the Star and Diamond pattern from the Heritage collection. This space, too has been designed by Mr. Dilawari. The Heritage tile imparts a rich and historical vibe and, makes a lasting impression on every visitor who walks through the doors of one of the city’s oldest treasures!

BMC headquarters 

Located exactly opposite another UNESCO Heritage Site, the CST station building, and yet standing tall is the BMC Headquarters. The restoration project started in 2006 and every attempt was made to save the old tiles and antique furniture which added to the historic charm and period appeal of this architectural marvel. The original Minton tiles were re-used with replica Bharat tiles replacing missing patches, thereby maintaining the original look of the floors and further preserving the old world charm of this grand Victorian Gothic structure around which the city of Mumbai has grown and prospered.

Cathedral High School

With an ancient heritage that dates back to 1860, this private school located in Fort is one of the most prestigious educational institutes in the city. Completed in 2001, the restoration project of this school building was headed by architect Brinda Somayya and included restoring several elements of the building including the flooring. The Inverlochy pattern tiles from BFT’s Heritage range were used during the restoration process in shades of Jaisalmer Yellow, Terracotta Red and Dark Green, and it graces the passages of the school giving them a royal look and maintaining the overall grandeur of the space. This vibrant design is based on the one used in Inverlochy Castle in the 18th century and fits in perfectly with the Victorian Gothic style of architecture that is the foundation of the school. 

With almost a century of experience, BFT’s floor art ranges from the classical to the modern, making each floor a unique work of art specially designed to fulfil the dreams of each client. Bharat Flooring’s Heritage™ tiles and floors are custom designed to create stunning floors to suit eclectic tastes. The timeless elegance and durability of these tiles makes them an invaluable part of the country’s architectural heritage. As a brand that has a deep-rooted connection with the identity of India, nothing gives us more pride than the fact that our floors have found a home in these splendid architectural gems with significant historical relevance when it comes to our country’s rich and vibrant past.