Nothing gets BombayJules's adrenalin pumping more than a new interiors find! And here we have Pondicherry (in the Metro area of Mumbai) - a store that is only a few weeks old and the creation of Lina and Rahul Parekh.
Behind the sunny yellow facade of Pondicherry (itself reminiscent of the colourful houses of the southern French-Indian town), I found a charming, bijou store housing an array of interesting, original furniture and objet (note un petit use of a few French words?). Here at Pondicherry, there is a warmth in all of the mostly wooden pieces, which have been constructed with such care and such attention to detail. What Lina has done is to take interesting examples of architectural salvage and re-purposed them into something contemporary and useful but with a historic reference. For example, the salvaged Burma teak door frame which has been fashioned into a bookcase with an ancient relief panel at the top. What a unique piece! There is also teak courtroom balustrade that has been converted into a console table, and the huge old, brass operation theatre light which would add interest to any eclectic interior. I also loved the coffee table, made from an old, knobbly door on brightly painted legs. Aagh, why didn't this place exist when I was hunting oh-so-hard for a coffee table! Because of the uniqueness of each of the salvaged parts, it means that each piece of furniture can only be described as a one-off.
|My photos don't do the store justice - there is so much to intrigue you in here!|
Although most of the products are distinctly Indian - as they make the most of Indian craftmanship and materials - there are also some interesting contemporary designs that have been commissioned by Rahul. Rahul is fore-mostly involved in the construction business but also has a passion for woodworking. This crossover of knowledge has been translated into straightforward, functional furniture with a modernity that blends so well with this wife's more historic pieces. Rahul showed me a Burma teak desk, inspired by the French designer Jean Prouve, with its angular, laser cut steel legs. Very cool indeed. And I was also keen on the colourful teak side tables with laminated tops in candy colours.
|For a pop of colour, there were several of these handcrafted teak side-tables with laminated tops - pink, blue, green, yellow...take your pick!|
I thought that the prices were very reasonable in terms of the amount of craftsmanship and antiquity that makes up each creation (see pics below for further details). And in amongst the larger pieces of furniture are some really affordable accessories - such as the huge sheesham wood mirror for Rs 12,000 or the smaller mosaic mirrors for Rs 8,500. I also loved the picture frames made of etched metal (starting at Rs 750) and the colourful wooden trays (starting at Rs 900) that bring the collection to life.
So what is the story behind Pondicherry? Lina - already a contemporary Indian art dealer (see website Kalpa:vraksha) has herself been collecting art and antiques for a long time. Upon moving into a new house a while back, she found that she just could not find what she wanted to decorate her home - i.e. furnishings that were just a little bit different. So she started experimenting with designs - by taking old furniture, or interesting cuts of wood, panels, doors etc (sourced from all over India) and giving them a contemporary twist using a team of skilled carpenters. Lina then dipped her toes in the water by exhibiting a few of her creations at an associate's art gallery. But when everything quickly sold out, she knew she was onto something. That is when she decided that she should take it one step further by opening a shopfront. Lina has a close spiritual association with the Sri Aurobindo Foundation based in Pondicherry, hence why she wanted to name her store after the town. Rahul adds his contemporary twist to the collection by designing and producing the modern pieces described above. This husband-and-wife (or should I say wife-and-husband!) partnership works in perfect tandem. They are passionate about what they do and this is reflected in the quality of their output.
|Lina and Rahul - the sweetest couple!|
The Pondicherry premises actually used to be a wine shop belonging to Lina's father - but I suspect that it will not be long before they are upscaling from their store at 100 Marine Mansions to something much bigger. I myself would love to see more of these one-off designs!
|I love this old shrine that has shelves added so it can be used as a mini-drinks or medicine cabinet.|
|With the doors closed....|
|Brightly coloured hand-painted trays start at Rs 900.|
|Iron lace photo frames Rs 750 to Rs 1,100|
|Incredible salvaged Burma teak door frame with intricate relief panel incorporated above.|
Makes for a magnificent and unique book case. Rs 185,000
|Salvaged door panel from Kraikudi refashioned into a coffee table (Rs 75,000).|
|To the right is a salvaged courtroom balustrade refashioned into a hallway console. So original!|
|Jean Prouve inspired desk - old Burma teak top on laser cut painted steel. Compact and stylish (Rs 39,500)|
|May have to go back for this teak lampbase.....|
|Bowl carved from a single piece of polished granite (Rs 4,500)|
|Stunning salvaged altarpiece.|
|Salvaged old teak letter sorter retrofitted in a teak glass cabinet - makes a fabulous wine cabinet! Rs 21,000|
|Fore something really different, how about these old Jain marble panels set into side tables|
I think Rahul said the panels were from the 14th or 15th century,
so quite a find and worthy of the Rs 145,000 price tag.
|A pair of these stunning South Indian gods adorn either side of the doorway|
|Not yet complete, this old stallion is about to be converted into a Mooi inspired horse lamp.|
Rs 95,000. Love it!
|Even the price-tags are crafted out of wood. I wanted to buy one!|
|Rahul Parekh - the coolest man I've met in Mumbai since Mr Beanbag!.|
|Let's not forget the kids. I love this jolly hand-painted shelving unit in sheesham (Rs 24,000)|
|Mother Mary and Jesus is not for sale - but makes a great centre-piece in the store....|
|....and I love the way that they stand irreverently atop this fold out drinks cabinet/bar!|
100 Marine Mansion
Anandilal Poddar Marg
Near Metro Cinema
Open 10.30 am to 7.30 pm Monday to Saturday.
Prices are fixed and include all taxes (enquire about delivery).
Directions: If you are coming from Metro side, turn into the road that connects to Marine Lines. Pondicherry is just after the round mosque (in the middle of the road) on the right hand side. Parking from around 11.00 am should be feasible on Marine lInes opposite Kala Niketan.