Talk of the ‘Raj’ and impressions of colonialism pop into mind. When we refer to art and design of the Raj era, the mind will nestle into a certain old world charm associated with the décor of that age. For a company that deals with the beautiful heirloom-like furniture of the past, “The Raj Company” is an apt name indeed.
When it comes to vintage furniture, there are a couple of things that connoisseurs and lovers of antique pieces know well. Firstly, scouting around for a true gem is not as easy as it sounds, and often requires identifying a diamond in the rough.
Secondly, collecting beautiful old things can become an all-consuming hobby. Ricky Lamba, the proprietor and brain behind the company, would know. After all, it was this passion that led to the inception of The Raj Company.
“Collecting antiques and aesthetically beautiful things has been a hobby since my teens. I was in a completely different business for many years and never actually planned to get into this business. But as I put together a small collection of lovely antique furniture, one thing led to another, and soon it was a fun, parallel business that slowly grew into my main line of work,” reminiscences Lamba, as he talks about the grand Mumbai based store that is a haven for old pieces that revel in great beauty.
Hunting for gems is something that has to become second nature for those in this business. One has to develop an eye for worthy pieces. “We have a team of scouts and dealers all over the subcontinent who help us with our sourcing process. We generally get our pieces from old mansions, palaces, colonial era structures etc,” explains Lamba.
Not surprisingly, The Raj Company is one of the few remaining entities that offer high quality, hand made and hand finished antiques, reproductions and custom furniture of all styles. The group has an enviable selection of fabulous high-end items of all genres. Think British Colonial, Indo Portuguese, Dutch Colonial, French Colonial, Anglo Indian, Art Deco and Ethnic furniture – they have it all.
The original is always rare and in short supply. Thus, the market for reproductions has grown considerably. “We also make reproductions of different styles. Our custom furniture services are very diverse, of high quality and cover all styles including contemporary furniture. Basically we offer anything and everything made from hard wood,” states Lamba.
The timeline for the delivery of these customised pieces depends upon the style, size and complexity of the custom order. A simple piece like a chair or small cabinet could take as little as 2 to 3 weeks and a larger, highly carved and more complex piece like a four poster bed or intricate bookcase could take up to 8 weeks.
To restore an old piece to its former glory or make a worthy reproduction is a different ball game all together. Here is where sound expertise comes in. One needs specialised workmen who have great skill and knowledge of the style of furniture as well as the right kind of raw materials.
The group has a team of highly skilled and expert craftsmen who painstakingly restore or remake furniture using carefully selected reclaimed antique hard wood. Taking timeless designs as a base, the company also adds subtle modern touches to customised furniture, if required by the client.
One of the main concerns of customers is often related to maintenance. “As our furniture is made of hardwood and hand finished, it does not need much special maintenance on a regular basis if it is maintained with care; standard cleaning and dusting will suffice. We offer all our customers in and around Mumbai prompt after sales service for both refinishing and repair if required,” says Lamba.
Another concern for those scouting for antiques is how to identify one in the first place. Lamba agrees that it is difficult for an amateur to differentiate between an antique and a good reproduction. However, according to him, the best way to recognise if the item is an original would be to source or buy the antique in its original condition from a trusted dealer and then have it restored.
We live in times where tastes of people are changing. Modernism and convenience have crept into design and a lot of furniture looks clinical. Yet, there will always be a market for colonial pieces that speak of a glorious era. These are pieces that are timeless in style and can be passed down generations as heirlooms. And, till passionate groups like The Raj Company continue to breathe new life into old designs, those who appreciate the richness of the past need not be worried!
Text By Dhanishta Shah
The Raj Company
1-C, K. Khadye Marg,
Opposite the Race Course,
Mahalaxmi,Mumbai 400 034,
91 (22) 2354 2626 / 3636 / 8686 / 2424
web : www.therajcompany.com