In the last few weeks, the ICC World Cup 2023 has held matches in Chennai’s Chidambaram Stadium, Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium and Bengaluru’s Chinnaswamy Stadium. A common feature at these three stadiums? Vox India.
A more than 30-year-old interior design brand specialising in furniture, home furnishings and building material, Vox was started in Poland in 1989 by the Voelkel family. The European brand is known for its innovative approach, which incorporates ‘customer psychology’ to come up with new, people-friendly designs that both accommodate and change the way you live. It has since spread to over 50 countries, including the U.S., Mexico, Australia and Taiwan. Its latest foray is into the Indian market, where it has tied up with Varun Poddar, ex-Ashirvad Pipes scion, in a 50:50 partnership to form Vox India. It was recently involved with the renovation of all three stadiums for the World Cup. It wasn’t the only company whose products were used in the renovation: there were chairs from Pen Workers; Abby Lighting fixtures by GOJIS Lifestyle; and flooring solutions by Facilini Design Lab.
Apart from the World Cup, Poddar’s Vox has been bringing a number of new innovations to the country, which includes the likes of a home theatre bed, with an inbuilt screen and projector to watch TV as you turn in for the night, and a new rotating chair for the elderly.
In a recent exchange, Poddar talked about his motivation to bring Vox to India, his work for the World Cup, new designs and future plans. Edited excerpts:
What got you interested in taking Vox up in India?
If you see Vox’s history, they have a very different approach to designing and developing products. So when we met the Polish company, we were excited about the new kind of work they were doing in plastics — how they were bringing out a different finish. We were former promoters of a company called Ashirvad Pipes, which we exited in 2018. So with a strong background in plastics, we felt we would do well in India.
You worked on the renovation of some of the World Cup stadiums. What did this entail?
The BCCI has done a fantastic job of renovating the stadiums. In a lot of the areas in the pavilion or VIP seats or the players section, they have a ceiling structure in which they have attached our products, making the areas more premium. Our ceiling products resemble wood, but they are basically polyvinyl panels that we digitally print to look like wood. They cost approximately ₹200-₹250 per sq.ft. We mainly collaborate with architects. For the World Cup renovations, we worked with Shashi Prabhu & Associates for Wankhede Stadium, and with Urban Design Collaborative for Chidambaram Stadium.
What are some of the most innovative designs that Vox has?
The family in Poland has a very design-oriented approach. One thing they started noticing is that people were watching a lot of TV in bed. So they made a really cool bed — on the four corners were posts, and on the front two posts was a projector that can be pulled down. And on the sides, were screens. They launched this bed on a beach in Europe with 300 such beds. And they did an entire movie screening there. So this is one of their top-selling pieces till date. It costs approximately ₹1 lakh.
Another example is a rotating chair for old people that allows them to get up without having to push the chair back. These are the small things that they really study and incorporate into all their products.
How will these designs be adapted for an Indian environment?
There are two changes. One is technological: the furniture that is now designed for European usage must be treated for our temperatures. We also offer polymer ceilings over the usual gypsum ceilings — because it is water-proof, has a longer life-span and is maintenance-free. Another change is definitely the aesthetics. In India, people like teak wood, and so the decor and the shades of wood we use have to be made darker.
What are your future plans?
We plan to open a manufacturing facility in Bengaluru, which will produce not only for India, but for export as well. We chose Bengaluru because it provides easy connectivity to markets in the south and west, has a skilled workforce, and we had our Ashirvad pipes base here — so our old team is all there. We’re also working on creating an experience centre in Bengaluru. In addition, we launched our website, Vox Box, where you can design your home as if you’re building lego blocks.