Can our culture contribute to the design of our homes? Can it reveal the story of who we are, how we live and why we are drawn to certain type of forms?Continue reading….
Each time I visit a house or design for a family, my mind tries to decipher the seen and heard into correlations to their culture of birth and ones adopted with time. Diversity plays out as we peek into lives to learn how people live, cook, eat, speak, pray, socialize, dress, sing, etc.,. The uniqueness of the built environment, from built form to spatial layouts and decorative patterns, is a way to explore, appraise and categorize interior décor styles. These styles can be deciphered globally as Scandinavian, Baroque, Asian, Industrial, etc.
Globally we may have a broader approach to home designing, but each country has been a host to sub cultures that has an individual style of eating, dressing and living. India has had the uniqueness of soaking in from cultures that we traded with, were invaded or colonised by apart from the ones that had flourished in its different geographies. Persian, Mogul, Portuguese, British and French were the flavours that perked up our craftsmanship to evolve new patterns and forms for distinct styles of homes that stay relevant to date. We can witness these influences in homes at Goa, Puducherry, Kolkatta, Mumbai, Assam, Shimla, Rajasthan etc. The beauty lay in how these historical events played out to amalgamate with local craft and culture to yield styles that became adopted as our own, as Indian.
Festive, cheerful, slackened, that’s Goa for most of us. The holiday destination feel stems from the white finials and colourful walls that peer out of the greenery around. Homes that speak of intense Portuguese influences on their architecture and décor. They are distinct by the bold use of colours, simple building materials available as laterite, stone, humble burnt earth plastered over with cow dung and hay, mother of pearls to line windows. Cultural and aesthetic influences from Europe and other places that Goans travelled to, brought tiles with elaborate patterns and furniture with intricate design. Belgian Chandeliers, imported chinaware, high false ceiling in wood, wall murals, lie in the spirit of Goan homes as much as singing and dancing!
Get the look: Pop-up bright wall against general white. Dark stone floors. Sleek wood furniture with an accent of carving. Clear high ceilings with simple glass pendant lights. Wall mural featuring festivities.
Spiritual vibes, compassion, care and a hot pot of people from around the world that call it home. Puducherry is a town that holds a distinct French essence in terms of its infrastructure, cuisine, culture and ambiance, for that reason it’s a “heritage”, as a town. It shows a mutual influence of the vernacular local architecture on the colonial one and vice-a-versa.. Pastel shades, windows with arches, intricate details of finials and balustrades, completely reminiscent of a French town. Pristine white interiors are speckled with delicate woodwork, ceilings marked by heavy wooden beams and wooden joists supporting terrace roofing made of brick-on-edge masonry in lime mortar.
Get the look: White interiors with delicate teak coloured woodwork. Open and spacious layout of wood furniture. Flooring in polished dark stone laid in pattern. Walls prettied with curio collections.
A city that love to celebrate tradition, preserve culture and discuss societal issues. Kolkata prides itself for all these and an architecture that is a celebration of the British colonial times. Large family homes built on rules of the Hindu concept of a central courtyard and adorned with European finery. Externally painted in deep hues, the internal finishes are decorated with detailed patterns in tiles, iron railings, jaali work on fascia. Walls host framed pictures of ancestors, personal achievements and prolific personalities revered by the Bengali community. Four poster beds, wood almirahs with delicate china and clusters of chairs with a table to afford generic talks and discussions.
Get the look: Seating clusters to fill corners. Tall glass door carved wood cupboards for umpteen books and bibelots. Antique grandfather wall clocks, gramophone player and wood four poster bed. Painted windows and doors with wood louvers. Walls with frames that flaunt history.
Mumbai prides itself on a particular style of architecture — Art Deco. It’s a reflection of the flouring age of Mumbai as a centre for business and that of a society ready to break free from their norms. Art Deco was an expression of the education and travel exposures of Bombay’s elite. The indigenous structures mirrored the outlook of a highly urbanised society with an international outlook. Ornate lettering, geometric patterns (saucer-like turrets; zigzags), maritime elements (waves, ship deck-style railings, porthole windows were used for interior and exterior design. This was a style that was elegant, sumptuous with a veneer of modernity and flexibility to adapt to Indian motifs.
Get the look: Geometric patterns in door and window grills. Walls finished with patterned wood panelling or mirrors. Straight line wood furniture. Lights with minimal details or with an industrial look. Floors with mosaic tiles in earthy colours. Accentuated structural geometry of a built form.
‘Chettinad’ marks opulence to design and décor of usually humble homes of south India. Less flamboyant compared to Rajasthan’s palaces, but replete with rich details. Trade with foreign countries brought home aesthetics, skill sets and finances to give skin to palatial houses with a theme. The beauty of these houses lies in using local craftsmanship to replicate and adapt designs of European origins to a more Indian format. The broad framework of design usually involved large halls and courtyards, intricate woodwork, ornate embellishments like Belgian glasswork, beautiful Athangudi tiles, pillars in wood, iron or stone and a carved teak front door with a carving of Goddess Laxmi.
Get the look: Generously carved solid wood doors. Plain shaft wood columns with carved capitals. Colourful ‘Athangudi’ tiles. Brass and bronze lamps, artefacts and utensils.
Rajasthan has been a flourishing desert for artistry and handiwork. Famous for its culture of hosting guests with grandeur, the focus has been on creating homes that speak largely of their culture and heritage. Hindu, Tribal, Persian, Mogul, Jain have collectively woven the genesis of a design pattern that is recognised globally. It is easily the most applied style of interiors representing India in the global perspective. Motifs range from being repetitive geometries to delicate details inspired by nature. Colours, decoration with mirrors and motifs are found in homes humble or luxuriant. Beautiful carved furniture, block printed fabrics, pops of colour, extensive use of marble, silverware and chandeliers adorn a place with a spirit of Rajasthan.
Get the look: Colourful sheer curtains and embroidered furnishings with a hint of gold. Carved silver frames with mirrors. Upholstered wood furniture like camelback sofas. Arched wall niches and ornate wallpapers.
Kashmir is an enigmatic state with enchanting views of nature. The fetching surroundings influence the entire fabric of art in this region. Unbelievably intricate work of carved wood, woven carpets, embroidered fabrics and engraved silverware make Kashmir handiwork a must have in homes and palaces. Recognisable through its depiction of flora and opulent curves in furniture pieces. Kashmiri furniture designs have been most widely replicate and used in North India. Other adjoining hilly states exhibit similar décor spaces. Use of wood lends warmth to homes in the Himalayan terrain. It is an art favoured by and fit for Kings. It represents the creativity of a relentless hardworking population with a deep passion for what they do.
Get the look: Walls and ceiling panelled in wood or warm colour tones. Intricate wood furniture upholstered with rich fabrics like velvet and silk. Chandeliers and stain glass windows.
Musically active, bio-diverse and culturally grounded. North east region of India is a mixed pot of influences of Hindu, Christianity, Muslim, Buddhism and a very rich tribal culture sporting crafts unique to them. Colonization brought the concept of bungalows and tea garden estates. These houses exhibit steep sloping roofs that add immense volume to the internal spaces. Large verandas with flooring in deep hued tiles with furniture in cane and bamboo. Furniture and décor made from rattan, bamboo and cane are crafted with finery and beauty. This simple and authentic use of local materials and skills impart a warm and humble feel to these homes.
Get the look: Rattan, wicker or bamboo furniture. White, red, blue and black dominate the colour palette. Bamboo flooring or reed mats. Art woven or painted on fabric. Simple brassware for religious or traditional use. Antique glass pendent lights.
God’s own country, Kerala is unique in geography and innovative in the way they use their natural resources. Naalukettu are large ancestral homes of Kerela. Laterite, stone, timber and clay are most commonly found finishes in a home. Skilful choice of timber, accurate joinery, artful assembly and delicate carving of wood work for columns, walls and roofs frames with the rawness of simple flooring in concrete, clay or stone are dominant features of a Kerala home. Walls are usually white or with murals in subdued shades of brown. These simple homes have a generous sprinkling of exquisite brassware and bronzeware displayed around. Akin to the traditional dressing of the people here which is white and gold.
Get the look: Simple wood pillars and wood rafters in ceiling. Solid wood furniture and benches with minimal carving. A large wood swing. Concrete or red oxide polished floors. Large brass lamps, idols and urlis. Windows covered with bamboo chicks (blinds).
Design with a dose of cultural influence through colour palettes, photography or symbols with accent pieces add to a storyline of family history and lineage. A culture derived from set of beliefs, lifestyle, travel and customs adopted over time. Using design diversity as a pool for inspiration helps convey and amalgamate the intimate connect of a family to their home.