Old and stylish
Want some rich styling in your furniture that is functional too? Take a look at `art-deco' that offers both says Ranjani Govind.
Art-deco furniture of the 1920s introduced in India by the British.
THE COMMONLY seen `old-classic colonial furniture sale,' brings to mind a shop stacked with sturdy furniture pieces that are made up for re-use. We don't think beyond the fact that such furniture is made of mature wood and is qualitatively good. The fact, however, is that every `period' furniture has its own styling thrown in, whether it is the Elizabethan furniture, named after Queen Elizabeth 1, Renaissance Furniture of the French or the early colonial furniture of the U.S. Quite obviously, the English did have an overpowering influence with their styles the world over.
What the British introduced in India during the 1920s was called the `art-deco' furniture. "Linear lines basically constituted the build of art-deco, says S. Gomathy of Kipling & Co. Arts, where the ongoing exhibition-cum-sale of art-deco furniture concludes tomorrow at the showroom in 3rd Street, Nandanam Extension. (Tel: 52116805, 52116905). "No deep curves, no carving, no aerodynamic in styling, and no any frills attached for decoration. It is heavy, rich teak and rose wood, sometimes combined with cane too, and is absolutely functional. They do not contain nails, but are clamped together at joints and where necessary, have wooden nails for strengthening".
It was the characteristic styling and make of every piece then that helped establish its period and value, the intricate grains spoke of the wood and its age. No nerve-wracking exercises were needed to estimate the quality.
Early 1960s saw a renaissance of the fad for a brief time when the hippy-culture was also in vogue. While the bell-bottoms then found wider flares, it was sleeker and trimmer legs that art-deco furniture gained. But it all along had a `practical-furniture' tag to it, reiterates Gomathy. The introduction by the British was not without reason, she adds. "They believed in comfort and functionality, and so yesteryear firms such as Curzon and Company, Lawrence and Company and Deschamps working for British, French and Dutch settlements in India were asked to copy the designs. Styles of European art-deco designers such as Gorden Russel, Enebro Mayfer and Annibale Colombo were being replicated on rose and teak that were abundantly grown in South India, as against the original designed in highly priced oak wood. Apart from homes, they were common in government offices and law firms."
As antique shops house the old-world charm, how does Kipling and Co. differ as a wooden boutique? Gomathy quickly chips in "Shops just sell. We have a history behind every piece we have arduously brought together. We take pains to gather the history of the piece and assimilate the information, examine, study and educate the customers. Our carpenters who work on them are veterans in handling `old gold' and bring out the inherent beauty. They do not just deck it up for a new look. We have literature for our pieces that people may be interested in knowing, just to show the value we attach towards the furniture. All it would need is a wax polish every year to keep it going."
Gomathy's decade-old foray into accumulating furniture and artefacts sprouts from the fact that she is a native of Chettinadu, where architectural workmanship is a way of life. Working with an American partner with large-scale exports, she offers a buy back too for the same price sold, and could offer even more, if she has them sold. "It's like investing in land and gold, it attracts more value," is Gomathy's parting shot.
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