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In search of something exotic
Sangeeta Singh | July 08, 2006
Okay, so it was granny's first sofa, but not everything that's been passed down generations is worthy of being an heirloom, and that tatty, rexine covered seat certainly doesn't qualify.
Shove the sentiment aside and you'll see why the kids won't have anything to do it - not in these days of inexpensive imported furniture that everyone in the neighbourhood seems to have acquired in a short span of years.
Instead, the smart thing is to go looking for something different and not made to order in the sweatshops of Malaysia. We're talking about something altogether more exotic, extravagant and niche. You can pick up from a range in cane, water hyacinth, sea grass, banana bark...the list is endless.
If seamless, finely woven sofas in natural shades is what you are looking for, your search might take you to Manju Singh's Vetasa in New Delhi's Friends Colony.
Cane and rattan are her forte, which she delicately combines with wood, glass and bamboo. Singh also vouches for durability - something that most cane makers don't guarantee - she has a 26-year-old sofa set in her living room. But what stands out at Vetasa is the foot of the bed, which she calls the Rajvilas chest or the Irravady chest.At Rs 10,500, it's a steal.
If you want your "exotic" to be a tad more contemporary, check out Good Earth's showroom in New Delhi's Mehrauli or Mumbai's Parel area. Here you can choose from an array of furniture sourced from different parts of the world, and enjoy the luxury to design one room with Italian furniture, while the other is Chinese.
"Our furniture is designed to reflect the mood, and the emphasis is on natural polish and an eclectic feel," says Simran Lall, director, Good Earth.
The company's showroom in Mumbai is spread over 15,000 sq ft ,and that in Delhi's Ambavatta over 5,000 sq ft, but Good Earth will soon have another showroom in Delhi spread over 18,000 sq ft. The Mumbai outlet also has The Tasting Room caf� and wine bar.
With a dining set starting at Rs 40,000, double bed at Rs 60,000 and sofas at Rs 35,000, all crossing Rs 100,000 in the upper range, Good Earth is somewhat of a premium brand.
"Our collections include a variety of designs from exclusive suppliers who share our design philosophy," adds Lall. The company, which has been in the business for over a decade, sells under two brands - with Good Earth being the mother brand and Box (which are supplied by a Dutch designer) a sub brand.
If oriental and exotic is what you aspire to flaunt, try Chantik in Gurgaon. Spread over 40,000 sq ft and over three floors, Chantik has one floor dedicated completely to Indonesian furniture.
Using a combination of water hyacinth (which is turned into braids before making furniture), bamboo, rattan and banana bark sourced from Jakarta, Bali and parts of Malaysia, the store has carved wooden doors for Rs 90,000, Chinese beds for Rs 85,000, love seats (swinging sofa) for Rs 50,000 and so on.
The store opened just two months back and according to Chantik's director, Anjali Chawla, has already sold 10-15 sofas besides half-a-dozen dining tables. Chawla, who is running Chantik with two other partners, has stayed in Indonesia and Singapore for over 20 years and likes to call her collection Gado Gado, which means "assorted" in Indonesian.
"In Singapore I saw lots of foreigners buying this furniture so I was confident that the business will do well in India," says Chawla.
The best thing about Chantik is that it has a wide array of furnishings to choose from, encouraging clients to try out various combinations. If one wants an Indian touch to go with the oriental furniture, the cushions, upholstery and a host of other home accessories can be purchased accordingly.
Chantik also has office furniture from Malaysia and home furniture from India with a price tag starting at Rs 50,000. Chawla says that Chantik's furniture is not really premium. "We want to do bulk business and that's the reason we are not really high-priced," she adds.
While you're on the oriental furniture trail, make a trip to Vikram and Divya Goyal's Viya Home that has furniture pieces, sculptures, artefacts and accessories sourced from Hanoi, Java, Laos, Africa and the northeastern tribal areas of India.
The hand-crafted furniture from Viya Home is abstract yet functional. Take a look at some of the products on www.viyahome.com and you might just end up liking something exotic for your home.
Your search for oriental furniture will be incomplete without Preeti and Mike Knowles. Yes, at their furniture studio Indiachic, customers can check out a look that is neither contemporary nor traditional, but passes for what might best be described as colonial.But perish the thought that it might be the stuff you've picked up at Kolkata's auction houses. Here, the designers play with everything from silhouettes to surfaces, for a look that has the feel and flavour of "once upon a time in India" without sacrificing today's modern sensibility. Now, that's exotic!