With a warm mélange of great products and beautiful art, a visit to BARO is nothing short of an invitation to hone your own décor style.
The precincts of Lower Parel have emerged as a hub for stores showcasing some of the best design talents in Mumbai. Housed in a statement making turquoise-walled building, BARO, the newest store on the block, is boldly decked in the spirit of an art gallery. The trio behind BARO, Mahesh Mathai, Srila Chatterjee and Siddharth Sirohi, have worked in the realm of film and advertising.
The store certainly benefits from their keen sense of art, design and aesthetics. “We were despairing the state of the business we were in, which was advertising and film making, and we were excited with the possibilities of design,” explains Chatterjee as we sit down to chat in the bold and colourful and shop.
The 3200 square feet store has a distinct and homely look thanks to the inputs by architect and set designer Fali Unwala and the passionate involvement of Chatterjee. They stripped down the originally cluttered space into an area that flows openly. Two huge hidden water tanks are painted and are prominently displayed. Beautiful arched windows allow streaming natural light to flood the store. Inside, chandeliers add to the elegance and lighting ambience.
The cement flooring complements old rock walls that have been whitewashed. Other walls have rough cement finishes and are painted in solid muted colours so that artwork and furniture can stand out against them. “I think colour makes a great difference to life,” says Chatterjee. That’s quite evident in the store, through the furniture as well as the art that is displayed.
Very few décor stores have art as a key component. “Every part of my life has had art that I have acquired, because I really love it and want it around me,” explains Chatterjee. Most of the paintings are around the theme of folk art, and there are some magnificent pieces and stories around them. All artworks are very positive and have a certain boldness about them. “While I have seen and loved art that has sadness as its theme, I would not want it in my life. Art to me is a total upper. It is something beautiful and adds joy to my life. Also, it is important for people to understand that it is not something that belongs to the cottage industries. You can live with it in a contemporary environment too,” she says.
A small mezzanine area with edgy black and white chequered flooring hosts the upholstery section and more artworks. Amongst the gems it showcases is Russell Street, the Bombay avatar of the legendary textile brand Anokhi, from Kolkata.
India Circus products have a dedicated section here, with an upcoming line exclusively for BARO. They have bespoke bedsheets where customers can choose details like the thread count, colours and so on to make their very own sheets. Here, one views artworks in the old-fashioned way, where the customer sits and the work is unfurled before him or her.
Roughly, 85% of the furniture is made in-house. Sirohi designs all the furniture and oversees production at their warehouse. All furniture uses reclaimed teak and every single piece is highly ergonomic. The balance between aesthetics, comfort and functionality is clearly evident. “Siddharth marries knowledge and expertise with the aesthetic aspects. They can be merged together,” believes Chatterjee.
All furniture at the store is handmade, using traditional techniques. Some old vintage pieces have been sourced, however, they have not been restored to their former glory. Rather, they have been changed and reinterpreted.
Things get moved around all the time and as pieces go, others come. After the happy assault on the senses thanks to the beauty of the store, what really strikes you is that everything is reasonably priced. “We have sensible pricing. I feel very strongly that the city is a rip-off in many ways. That’s not the way to go,” concludes Chatterjee. Well, thank BARO for that!
Text By Dhanishta Shah