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22nd August 1999

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Splashing out with steel and wood

By Ayesha R. Rafiq

What with ta-ble legs looking like sea horses, foldable tables, a mixture of glass and wrought iron dining room sets, Dutch influenced Baker stands, picnic tables, wooden garden tables and chairs, wrought iron couches, French and Italian influenced beds and much more, if you're after the type of furniture your parents used to have, Fer and Bois won't have it.

Remember the furniture you've always drooled over in those home decor magazines and only dreamed about owning. Well, if you've been thinking of changing your dining room or sitting room furniture or just looking to add some pieces to your house, Fer and Bois might be just what the doctor ordered.

Fer and Bois or iron and steel which will begin displaying its work at The Oasis from August 21 onwards is definitely not just another furniture shop. The furniture is an innovative and attractive combination of steel and wood, from which the company gets its name.

Frenchman Yves Perrouault, the man behind Fer and Bois is enthusiastic and determined. Having been in the furniture business first as a trader and now as a manufacturer, his in-depth knowledge of the market seems to have ensured that there is a quality and refined product to fit almost every pocket.

The furniture is made from local pinewood, rubber wood and teak. While the pinewood and rubber wood pieces are often light, cosy and comfortable, Yves recommends the teak for those who are looking for a long term investment.

Where the wrought iron furniture is concerned too, Fer and Bois has made sure that it stands up to our tropical climate. The steel is either sand blasted or galvanised which ensures rust free furniture suitable for sea side locations.

'My products are geared towards the export market. Some orders from the American embassy in Colombo and some Maldive resorts are already in the offing. I find that many expatriates who are going back to their countries come here looking for furniture, as in addition to being cheap for them, it has the European influence that most of them are looking for. But I also welcome local customers looking for something different. In some cases I also agree to do custom designed furniture,' says Yves.

Keeping in mind the local market Yves has also kept the prices reasonable. A Dutch influenced Baker stand may cost about Rs. 18,000 while a wrought iron and glass dining table set may come to about Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 45,000. A set of teak wood garden table and chairs is priced at about Rs. 35,000 while the new Italian and French influenced beds being designed will come to between Rs. 13,000 and Rs. 25,000, and a chest of drawers to about Rs. 14,000. And for those looking for something less expensive there are always items like pine wood lounge chairs which cost about Rs. 2500.

And even if you don't end up buying the furniture at least it may have been worth the look.

All we want is peace

Achieving "global peace through individual transformation" is the one-man mission of Venkatraman Balu from Bangalore, India. A journey that has taken him around the world since 1982 in his one-on-one approach in motivating individuals to relate to their inner peace and play their part in working for a united earth.

"Peace is often thought of negatively as the absence of war, conflict, or problems. It's a positive not a negative presence," says Balu, a former senior government executive and an expert in creative communication.

Peace is not a global problem but an individual problem. When a person points a finger at others to stress their responsibility for world peace, three fingers point to him stressing his responsibility to become peaceful in all his thoughts, words, and deeds. Inner peace is man's greatest strength. It is the first step towards global peace. Balu propagates this message through the medium of collage art.

"Art is sublime and sacred. For me, it's a means of communing with the absolute. All my works are the result of my meditation." Therein lies the effect of art, says he, as a medium of communication. Lectures, talks, seminars aimed at promoting peace often fall flat. Peace becomes boring and colourless.

Balu's works of art emphasize inner peace as infinite energy, a source of tremendous strength that steadies and calms one's mind. His colourful presentations constitute a comprehensive package: an exhibition of collages, an audio-visual presentation on inner peace and the role of individuals in global peace; and a short talk followed by question and answer sessions and discussion of case studies in peace workshops.

"I find fulfilment in it," he says. As a part of his global mission, he held an exhibition of 60 of his paintings at the National Art Gallery from August 7-11. A common Indian prayer, "May the whole world be in peace and happiness," is his ultimate goal.

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