Friday, 6 June 2014

The Raj Company (and a brush with the Mumbai Mirror!)

When the Mumbai Mirror recently requested to interview me about antiques hunting, they asked if they could meet me in Chor Bazaar for an photo opportunity. Well you know how much I love Chor Bazaar...but you also know that with temperatures around 40 degrees and rising humidity in Mumbai, I was likely to end up fainting and embarrassing myself. That's when I suggested that we meet at The Raj Company in Mahalaxmi - with its huge open display rooms of high quality, original and reproduction antiques, and a ground floor full of as-yet unrestored pieces. Especially as I was in the market for a new bed.

This is the bed I fell in love with. They erected it outside so that I could get a good look. Expect to pay over 1 lakh (£1,000/$1,500) for this type of model (this one is reproduction and an American queen size). I thought the price was very reasonable - it's all solid teak with a finely crafted rattan headboard.
I went to The Raj Company premises a bit ahead of time to have a look around (I had already asked their permission to be interviewed there by the paper). The manager, Rohaan Lamba, showed me into his lovely office - full of interesting antiques and decorative objects (and more importantly, air conditioning!). Then he proceeded to explain some of the services that his company provides.

I was well aware of The Raj Company's ability to produce the most popular colonial and Indian furniture designs (as well as restoring the original pieces that you will find on the ground floor). But what I did not know, is that the company can actually reproduce just about any design of furniture you can think of. Rohaan showed me a stunning coffee table book by top New York interior designer Tom Scheerer - which was full of specially commissioned furniture made by Raj. I saw pictures of beautiful Chinoiserie chairs, contemporary side teak side tables, conservatory furniture, enormous dining tables in bleached wood etc etc. Such diversity! Later, Rohaan showed me a room containing their latest commission - by the trendy Soho House London which opens later this year in Mumbai. The style is a sort of funky English gentleman's club - classic furniture with a twist and I particularly liked the yellow leather dining chairs. The ability to simulate and reproduce to order and with such craftsmanship really impressed me - and all you have to do is provide a sketch or a reference image.

Some wood samples to show the kind of non-standard finishes that can be achieved. Underneath - Tom Scheerer's coffee table book containing many pictures of Raj Company work.
On the top floor of the Mahalaxmi property is, literally, bedroom heaven. I have never seen anything like it - a room full of antique four poster beds! There are lots of styles to choose from, and if you don't find what you like or a size that suits, specialist carpenters will of course, make it for you to order. I particularly liked the original opium beds with their ornate sides, the colonial teak style with four shorter 'twisty' posts at the corners and anything in precious rosewood. The only problem would be...which one to choose!

Bed heaven!
After our little chat and a tour of the premises, the Mumbai Mirror reporter and photographer arrived. Thankfully, we were allowed to sit in the air-conditioned office for the interview, as it was quite stuffy outside and I was already beginning to feel uncomfortable. After the interview, I spent the next 30 minutes trying to strike a pose for the photographer (difficult as I hate my photo being taken!). I hung off four poster beds like an idiot, I lent on chests of drawers with my hands under my chin looking pensive, and I stood holding up ancient artefacts whilst trying to look glamorous. As you can see from the clipping below, I wasn't entirely successful! (Note, this is the first time my picture has appeared anywhere in connection with my blog. Ta Da... Big Reveal!).

No this is not BombayJules....but I think I was more successful at getting the photographer to pose
than he was getting me to pose!

Many thanks to the Raj Company for putting up with me for so long that day...and to the Mumbai Mirror for our little bit of fun.

Typical opium bed back left.

A room full of card tables!

Campaign desk - commissioned by Soho House

This is not the typical furniture you will find at Raj Company but you will be able to find bone inlay furniture such as this in one of the rooms. Very popular in the UK right now.

A badly photographed repro campaign chest - around Rs 79,000. This model of chest is also very sought after.

Original door sourced from Rajasthan which can be converted into huge coffee tables - very popular with expats!

Beautiful colonial chairs.....

....and the most popular of planter chairs, the Bombay Fornicator!

Selection of furniture being commissioned by Soho House

I love this chair!!!

The 'chair room' with a selection of models that you can reproduce to your own taste/upholstery

More of bedroom heaven - rosewood four poster and cabinet in the foreground

Love the carved twisty posts on this bed.

Gorgeous arched canopy on this solid teakwood example.

Fab art deco headboard but the feet don't really go.

Bed in bleached wood - popular for French styled homes and beach houses in the Hamptons!

Another shot of 'my' bed.

Huge bleached wood dining table

Me photographing you photographing me.

On the ground floor - a rummager's paradise

Art Deco sofa suite, just waiting for you to customise it!

They chose a photo of me with a cheesy smile....
....but I get to share column space with Salman Rushdie!
For the online article, follow this link

The Raj Company
1-C, K, Khadye Marg
Opposite Race Course
Mumbai 400 034

Tel +91 (22) 2354 2626

For bespoke instructions, speak to Rohaan Lamba

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