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Minimal styling, maximum price

Kishore Singh | April 17, 2004

Interiors are more akin to fashion than many would acknowledge. And so, in an era when what you wear to work must serve you equally well as partywear and leisurewear, the Lover sofa from the French house of Ligne Roset plays as many roles, as comfortably.

Designed by Pascal Mourgue and Michel Roset, the sofa came about from an idea that Mourgue first threw to Roset as a challenge. "Hold up your hand, clench your fist and open it slowly. Your fingers are the back of the sofa and your palm is the seat," Mourgue explained to Rose.

It was an exciting notion because it allowed the back a flexibility to stay upright, or curl up for closer support. And though the metal construction required a long and frustrating process to achieve, along with its sandwich-like upholstery padding and a wool blend cover, when shown at the Cologne furniture fair it was a rage.

The Lover sofa from Ligne Roset is prominently on display at Evoluzione, the "design centre" that was launched recently at lifestyle store D-19, a Defence Colony showroom in Delhi that houses other home and fashion stores.

There are several reasons why the Lover sofa is important, not least for its adaptability. It is a new icon for a "minimal" generation that understands the concept of Italian furniture but is unwilling to spend for something that is less than cutting-edge, high performance and high value.

At a time when imported furniture is less a symbol for quality than the locally customised, Evoluzione is important because, like its closest competitor Renaissance Homes, it brings to India branded, top-end names in furniture design.

At Evoluzione, besides Ligne Roset, you'll also find the catalogue and samples from B&B Italia that, arguably in India at least, is probably the world's most exciting (and expensive) range of furniture. And while Ligne Roset comes from France, B&B is Italian.

Both use world class designers for their furniture, and each itemised piece bears the name of its designer. This concept, still new to India, could well be the most distinctive feature for both companies.

Evoluzione first opened in Chennai in December 2002 where it functions from a 7,000 sq ft store. Partners Atul Malhotra and Vikram Phadke brought in a range of brands (including less expensive furniture, home accessories and lighting solutions) that they have now introduced to Delhi. In time, Ligne Roset may require a stand-alone store, but B&B Italia will continue to retail from Evoluzione.

Both brands represent the current trend in world furniture that venerates minimalism. Therefore, there is use of modern fabrics and complex construction methods along with steel and glass, but wood is also used in the making of tables, beds and cabinets, though they are in the currently popular wenge finish. The prices are exorbitant, and not just because of the 40 per cent duty.

In the case of both brands, it is the designer label, akin to that of haute couture fashion that represents the true value of each piece of furniture. That is why the price represents a notional value; the brand is the actual value, and that remains invaluable.

For many, the B&B brand is particularly well known, though expats and the well-travelled have a high recollection for Ligne Roset as well. Therefore, the availability of both brands has generated some excitement.

However, the furniture is not available off the rack, and therefore designers or home owners need to plan in advance and place an order well in time before expected use. A turnaround of eight weeks is usual in fulfilling an order.

At a time when imports of furniture are commonplace, Ligne Roset and B&B Italia represent the equivalent in designer tags of the recent launch of Bvlgari jewellery and watches. Certainly, the interest has been just as flattering.

Both brands are available at Evoluzione in Chennai (Tel: 52139800) and Delhi (Tel: 31173794); or email:

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