Vice-chairman at Bharat Floorings & Tiles (BFT), Firdaus Variava has been instrumental in cementing history for a century. The company, after all, has played an integral role in the restoration of some of the key establishments in the city — Royal Bombay Yacht Club, Bombay High Court, BMC HQ, Jewish Synagogue, Royal Opera House, Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Mani Bhavan, The Cathedral, and John Connon School and Readymoney Mansion — by creating artisanal handcrafted tiles.
Their foray into heritage restoration has been fortuitous. In 1999, the first Kala Ghoda Arts Festival was dedicated to celebrating the heritage of the area. The committee asked his mother and company chairperson, Dilnavaz, if they could remake tiles with their old moulds. BFT’s factory manager of over five decades, who knew the process well, assisted the team. The exhibition provided a history of their various floorings including carpet-patterned tiles, art deco floors, and terrazzo (pictured). Soon enough, corners turned. It became a trend, where people learnt about BFT's Heritage™️ and cement tiles.
Conceived in 1922 by Firdaus’ maternal grandfather Pherozesha Sidhwa, the company was a result of the swadeshi movement that had galvanized the nation. Firdaus, who holds an MBA in marketing from the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, USA, took over the reins of the company two decades ago from Dilnavaz. He also brought to the company his vast experience working in diverse fields such as telecom, trading, and market research.
Today, the company has collaborated with design exponents such as Ayaz Basrai, Art & Found, Sameer Kulavoor, Sandeep, and Tanya Khosla. Another lucrative venture they have drawn their focus to is supplying tiles to eateries, restaurants, offices and homes — Abode Bombay, Pizza Express, Taj Mahal Tea House, The Bombay Canteen, OPedro, and Social — that infuse old-school heritage motifs into contemporary architecture.