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Check out these funky furniture
Nanditta Chibber | March 11, 2006
Red-hot luscious lips form the top half of a podium designed by Punam Kalra. In another corner of the room is a tiger-striped upholstered chair with the backrest's top in the shape of a woman's bosom.
"It's called the bra chair," says Kalra. Some loud and funky furniture, including a whale's tail-shaped single sofa from the children's classic Moby Dick, is contrasted with some straight-lined, clean and subtle furniture, posing an interesting mix at Kalra's store in New Delhi's Lajpat Nagar.
Her choice for the store's name - I'M Gallerii Centre for Applied Arts - was "to address ourselves to the ego of each individual", says Kalra.
In 1994, when I'm Gallerii was established, its product line was so funky, unconventional and bold that it was appreciable but also unacceptable.
As a result compliments on the unconventional design did not convert into many sales. "We started as an add-on store for mainly accessories but economics wise it was not worthwhile," recalls Kalra, who then made a gradual shift to designing furniture.
What she mostly designs today for furniture is mature, straight-lined, and Kalra admits, "toned down from our earlier visual euphoria".
As home décor trends across the world have started making a shift in look and colour back from the contemporary straight-lined to metaphorical forms making bold statements, according to Kalra, the trend in India is still firmly on the straight-lined look.
Playing within the current trends in India, Kalra is experimenting with textures, forms and materials by blending and offsetting them against each other. Her designs try to find a fluidity and naturalness in stark and clean geometrical shapes.
"Today they are accent pieces, essentially straight-lined but broken with experimentation." Fusing colours (sometimes browns and yellows), textures and materials - wood, steel, leather, enamel in a single piece - Kalra's design attempts have been to break the monotony in furniture from essentially straight-lined.
"You need a difference in straight-lined pieces too," asserts Kalra.
Using three different veneers at times, Kalra experiments with breaking them and arranging them into geometric shapes - the veneer design continuity broken and then rearranged.
Another example would be a cabinet and shelves piece that sees steel and some red leather covering the cabinet doors - some of Kalra's bohemian flavour is still present, but understated.
Steel finds a prominent place in a lot of furniture pieces by Kalra - on knobs, table and chair legs or even steel inlay work - the metal is offset by a host of other textures in most of her designs today.
Kalra considers using steel in her designs as "one of the most pioneering aspects of my design journey". For her, the steel and leather combination is "deadly, and both stunning and stylish".
With the intention of infusing art in home décor and design, Kalra again proposes to experiment as much as her clients will let her. An example is a design for a children's room where an L-shaped wall painting continued with another L-shaped carpet design on the floor. "It was art on the floor and wall and serious design went into it," says Kalra.
Pop art in the form of a body painted mannequin in bold colours too finds its place in Kalra's designs. With different ambiences allowing a suitable design, Kalra has learnt to give unconventional pieces like the lip-shaped podium and bra chair to pubs and personal bars, and make sure that her design pieces for homes are "creative without going overboard".
Over the years Kalra has learnt and goes by the rules - of fusion, creativity and balance being in tandem, where design elements do not fight. And even if Kalra sits down to design some of her own funky stuff, "I don't believe in over-designing," is her last word.
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