20 May 2024  |   05:55am IST

Kenelm Lopes breathes life into wood scraps, creating neo-vintage furniture treasures

Kenelm Lopes breathes life into wood scraps, creating neo-vintage furniture treasures


MARGAO: When his family decided to renovate their colonial-era home in Merces, Kenelm Santana Lopes chanced upon a motely bunch of the house’s original broken-down furniture and damaged woodwork that had been discarded decades ago. Most people would have viewed the termite-eaten antiques as trash, but for Kenelm, it was a veritable treasure trove that got him started on a hobby that has quickly grown into a passion. Kenelm now salvages irreparable pieces of old wood and with the help of his trusted carpenter, repurposes them into stunning new pieces of vintage-style furniture. He calls these creations ‘ReincArtefacts’, a term coined from ‘reincarnated artefacts’.

“Goan furniture boasts remarkable beauty and craftsmanship, blending European concepts with Goan motifs. During visits to furniture dealers, many of whom became friends, I discovered the rich heritage behind Goan furniture, influenced by European, Indian, and Chinese styles over time,” says the 45-year-old electronics engineer who is always scouring the State for old wooden items like knobs and handles and purchases even broken pieces of carvings deserving of a second innings.

“At home, I salvaged pieces of our original oratorio, repurposing rosewood panels with a daily wage carpenter’s help into a new shrine, still in use today,” he recalls. He also began researching vintage furniture styles, looking for special pieces that are no longer crafted today. “During the Covid lockdown, I enlisted a skilled carpenter Amin to work exclusively in my outdoor garage. Together, we crafted wardrobes, console tables, beds, and vintage-style kitchen furniture, later expanding to include a bar, cupboards, a buffet sideboard and a dollhouse for my daughter, crafted out of old doors,” says Kenelm, whose designs are inspired by pictures either from books or off the internet. “I then use my engineering skills to recommend a workflow for the carpenter to make it from a given set of available wooden scrap,” he says.

“Utilising carved rosewood, teak, and mahogany panels, Amin and I adorned pieces with rattan-cane, brass, or vintage prints. Frames and planks were repurposed from old doors or bed frames. Once agreed upon, the labour-intensive process of cleaning, stripping, and repairing old wood begins, often involving hours of standing at Amin’s side,” says Kenelm.

Nothing irks Kenelm like beautiful old furniture being burned or discarded. “There is so much to learn from old furniture, in terms of the quality and treatment of wood. The workmanship on these vintage pieces and even structural panels is exquisite – they do not make them like that anymore. I wish people would not discard broken antiques, or let them rot in their storerooms,” he says earnestly. “Each upcycled piece we have put together using wood sourced from different homes and estates is a collection of legacies. It’s a nice way to preserve our heritage,” he remarks, adding that he would be delighted to guide anyone looking to repurpose their solid wood scraps into neo-vintage furniture. “Despite the labour-intensive process of cleaning, stripping, and repairing old wood, 

each ReincArtefact holds countless stories, far surpassing store-bought pieces. These narratives, otherwise lost to time, now enrich our lives with their second innings,” he quips.


Iddhar Udhar