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Worktree’s, Luv Gastmans offers wooden toys, bowls and chopsticks, and believes wood will outdo plastic soon

Those who are into sustainable furniture and home accessories must visit Worktree in Auroville­—a store that specialises in toys, crockery and other interior décor products made from wood. Started last November by Luk Gastmans, Worktree wants to support the local forests and sources their material from Auroville. Gastmans chose wood because he believes it is important to promote natural goods. “Wood, unlike plastic, requires maintenance. We apply a non-toxic oil to our products to give them a natural finish and recommend  that  our customers re-apply the oil once a year. But wood  will outlive plastic products,” says Gastmans.

In 2011, when cyclone Thane hit the Tamil Nadu coast, he and his wife Shanti had helped clean up the forest in Auroville. “Instead of selling the wood, we decided to use it. My wife, who works at the Auroville Kindergarten, gave me the idea of making wooden blocks, a toy that is creative and educational. Now we design all our products,” he says.

After toys, Gastmans decided to diversify into dinnerware and came out with a range that includes bowls, plates, mugs and chopsticks. They also have educational toys like tower rings and puzzles. “We make wooden ducks, dogs and tops,” says Gastmans, who came to India in 1978 with his parents from Belgium. Gastma-ns’s love for nature runs in his blood­—his father re-afforested 32 acres of barren land in Auroville. “I still have vivid memories of planting trees. Today, my father and I maintain this indigenous forest,” he says.

Worktree’s products are now  exported to Luxemburg and Bali, and soon to Goa, Bangalore and Delhi. In Chennai, spot their products at Pappadum.

In Auroville, check out La Boutique d’Auroville and Chez Nous in Pondicherry. Products range between Rs. 150 and Rs. 3,000. Details:auroville.com

-Mrinalini Sundar

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