When it comes to synchronising timelines, it happens effortlessly in movies and soaps; in a defined timeline the past merges with the present and the cycle of continuity is maintained. When one works with antiques or architectural salvage, the story becomes personalised in a parallel way; instead of a script you have the reclaimed material – and the final product is perhaps the episodic soap or the movie which merges timelines.
So why am I talking about timelines anyway? Perhaps it is the best way to describe and elucidate on the kind of work executed at Pondicherry, our specialist for this month; often referred to as a lifestyle store for its eclectic mix of furniture pieces this is where the past merges with the present.
There are by lanes in Mumbai which echo the past; here you can easily find yourself lost in the oblivion of renaissance, which took place ages ago when our colonial friends kept us company. The Anandilal Poddar Marg in South Mumbai which joins Marine Lines with Metro Cinema is one such lane and somewhere along this trail lies Pondicherry.
Run by Rahul and Lina, a husband and wife duo, the name of the store can be deceiving, suggesting that it’s an ensemble of Pondicherry; rather Pondicherry is an ensemble of India considering the old materials put to use have been retrieved from numerous locations across India. The store got its name owing to Lina’s spiritual connection with the Union Territory of Pondicherry which she visits thrice a year.
As you enter the store nostalgia seeps into your senses through the reclaimed creations; likewise the minimalist creations snap you back in the present. Rahul and Lina both come from different backgrounds – Rahul is a Masters in Economics whereas Lina studied law but both are inclined towards art and design and both have designed the furniture that you see in the store.
Lina has been an avid art collector informs Rahul, besides which the couple has been collecting artefacts for 25 years in a row; they have a big godown in Sewri in addition to their house which stores these collectibles.
From these old collectibles begins the genesis of new ideas which outlines the furniture design which is both timeless and contemporary. At this point it would be good to add that though the couple have a love for design, their design styles are different and it makes itself prevalent in the pieces they have designed.
Lina specifically likes reworking with old materials, whereas a look at Rahul’s designs makes it evident that he is akin to a person who has stepped out of a colonial suite to a minimalist paradise. Some of his pieces try to play a fine balance of what can eventually work for a Victorian Home, as well as the luxurious apartments the skyline in the city is getting etched with.
In all the creations from rustic and rudimentary to the modern ones, the handiwork of special team of craftsmen is involved; these experts excel at merging two different worlds seamlessly.
Adds Rahul “Once we have the raw material with us, we articulate the design it can espouse with rough sketches, this idea is then communicated to our karigars, who add their own magic to it.” So who are the prized collectors of these unique pieces? Though they wish to remain unnamed Rahul adds that a lot of them are expatriates.
And if I were to remind you that the reclaimed pieces were procured from different states in India; right from West Bengal to Gujarat, it would not be wrong to add that they carry a bit of India with them when they walk out with an end product.
So if you are an Indian at heart and an avid art collector or a furniture aficionado, a visit to Pondicherry may offer you that bespoke piece of furniture that you will treasure forever.
Text By Vikas Bhadra
100 Marine Mansion, Anandilal Poddar Marg,
(Near Gol Masjid and Metro Cinema), Mumbai – 400002.
Tel: +91 22 22016861