Avanti Karnani’s career as a product designer at Ashley Norton started serendipitously.
The native of India and 2009 graduate of London’s Architectural Association found herself bored at home after a sudden cancer diagnosis.
So slowly, she began working on hardware designs for the firm run by her husband and his father.
It was a positive, can-do gesture in the face of real adversity.
“I started sketching and helping when could,” she says. “It organically happened that I was doing more and more and found that I really enjoyed it – and then it turned into a fulltime position.”
Founded in the U.K. in 1916, Ashley Norton is run by her father-in-law, and has been operating in the U.S. since 1987. “It’s been growing ever since,” she says.
The privately held company offers a range of hardware for exterior and interior – and for every door. There are pulls, switch plates, cabinet ware, door knockers and offerings in a variety of sizes.
Karnani’s newest design, though, addresses one of a pair of new design directions for interior hardware. They’re rapidly moving away from chrome and nickel to warmer finishes.
“There’s the complete matte black look, but then there’s the gold undertone that’s a more modern take on the classic bronze finish,” she says. “This new design is close to the color of champagne, but not too bright – it has a patina of bronze, and doesn’t look machined, but has a modern look.”
Looks are important, sure, but touch is a big part of the product design too. “When we design our products we get inspiration from everyday life,” she says. “We take seriously the ergonomics of the product once it’s designed, to make sure it’s soft – and an experiential event.”
So this is a good-looking line that has to feel good as well because, as Karnani says: “You interact with it – you touch it.”
The new bronze product is part of a niche market, and it’s competitive in its pricing. “We provide the best value for the money,” she says. “You can get that bronze look and not spend as much.”
That means interior sets with solid bronze interior door handle and plate that are $210 up, depending on the size and function.
That’s good news for the consumer. But there’s better news for Avanti Karnani, the architect-turned-product-designer.
Today, she’s not only found her niche, but she cancer-free too.
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