America is experiencing a renaissance of handcrafted goods. From sculptural lighting to hand-forged hardware, custom furniture and even blacksmithing of metal stair railings there are so many options for incorporating gorgeous furnishings that add soul to your home.
One outstanding example of this new breed of craftsmen is the mother/daughter creative team behind BIAKI New York, a maker of sophisticated custom doors. Founded in 2014 by Bia and Kiran Khan, BIAKI has already earned a stellar reputation for the beauty and quality of their doors. The firm’s mission statement explains the dream behind the art:
“BIAKI was founded with the dream of creating the ultimate line of uniquely customized luxury doors, each with a personality of its own, and each an individual work of art. BIAKI New York’s mission is to change the narrative of your interior spaces.”
We were thrilled to learn these talented women’s stories and get a better understanding of how their team creates their show stopping doors.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how BIAKI came to be?
Bia: We live in Western NY, which is known for its woodworking heritage. In the early 90s, I started Chautauqua Woods which makes high-end wood doors, all handcrafted by our local artisans, for both residential and commercial projects.
Kiran: My background is in Fine Arts, but growing up I was surrounded by entrepreneurs. I found it fascinating and knew that I wanted to start a business in which I could express myself creatively. After working with my mother at Chautauqua Woods Doors for several years, I really wanted us to explore some creative approaches to our traditional hardwood doors, and that’s how BIAKI started!
What is it like working as a mother/daughter team?
Kiran: We have very different personalities and work styles so that it can be challenging at times. But when it comes to the big decisions we are usually on the same page.
What role do each of you play?
Kiran: Bia handles the operations and management on the production end, while my focus is in sales and marketing. I’m also very involved in the creative process, when it comes to creating new door designs or just creating a new display for our showroom at the D&D Building.
The maple Alexandria door features Napa leather and polished brass hardware.
Kiran: Given our background, it made more sense for us to develop something in which we had expertise, rather than to branch out into something completely different. We felt that creating a new line of specialty doors would be the way to go.
Would you tell us about your creative process?
Kiran: When I have a new concept in my head, I’ll start sketching it out on paper and then creating it in AutoCad. I’ll also come up with a type of mood board to share the color palettes and other design elements we may want to incorporate into the door.
Once Bia and I agree on the initial concept, we’ll share it with our engineers and work on the technical and structural aspects of it. We’re very involved in the entire production process, right down to selecting the finishes.
From where do you draw inspiration for your designs?
Kiran: I draw inspiration from everyday life. I always take time to observe my surroundings, which include anything from architecture to nature and even simple lines and patterns I pick up on as I’m walking down the street.
The Alexandria door in blue and white.
How long do the doors take to make?
Kiran: Our doors are handcrafted in Western NY so it typically takes 6-8 weeks to build each door. Our artisans make each and every door from scratch.
Whitewashed maple and embedded Lalique crystal panels make this door an elegant statement piece.
What materials do you use for your doors?
Kiran: So far we’ve used several types of fabric and textile, as well as leathers and suedes. We also like to incorporate brass or copper for detailing and carvings. One of our most elegant doors even features Lalique crystal panels – and the possibilities seem endless.
The Kalahari door is made from antiqued poplar wood.
The Nara door in white with brass trim.
The Mabula door features pickled white oak, embossed Napa leather and brass hardware.
Who is currently inspiring you in the design world?
Kiran: It’s so difficult to choose just one designer from all the amazing work out there! We found the Kips Bay Decorator Show House in NYC to be very exciting and inspiring. Among our favorites were the rooms designed by Ken Fulk and Susan Ferrier of McAlpine.
The stunning Shalimar door is made from mahogany and dyed calf hair.
Do you have a personal favorite?
Kiran: I love all of them, but if I had to choose I would say the Shalimar door. It has a beautiful carved panel giving it a very rich and elegant look. It’s definitely one that people gravitate toward in our showroom.
Bia: My favorite door is the Casablanca. It’s a combination of Eastern motifs and filigree work with a modern twist.
At BIAKI, we value each and every contribution by our team. Every member is highly trained and skilled, contributing to the production of doors that will last a lifetime. Our craftsmen come from generations of woodworkers and their talents allow for BIAKI to create doors of unparalleled quality. BIAKI