Deepi Singh had never set out to be a career woman, let alone own a chain of high-end furnishing stores. But her innate sense of aesthetics couldnt be put down for too long. Today shes the force behind Muslin which has outlets in Delhi and Gurgaon, as well as Mumbai, Chennai, Pune and Hyderabad. The latest Muslin store opened its doors in Calcutta last month.
It all began some 10 years ago with Singh helping out a friend to put together an upholstery collection for the US market which included fabrics for curtains, bed linen and cushions. She followed this by creating a collection that had fabrics from different parts of India — there were ikkats, silks, taffetas and Jacquards.
Armed with this collection, she approached hotels with ideas for refurbishing their interiors. Priya Paul, chairperson, Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels, gave Singh her first break. At The Park, New Delhi, she used white silk for curtains while the sofas were upholstered in chenille (a thick, soft and fuzzy fabric) and teamed with crushed polyester cushions in bright shades of orange and lime green.
Thus enthused, Singh continued designing fabrics and focused on increasing her client base and four years later, she had quite an impressive repertoire of furnishings to her name. In 2005 she unveiled her first Muslin store in Delhi. While Singh took over the intricacies of merchandising and designing for Muslin, her husband, Kamaljit, took on the financial side of the business.
Over the years Muslin has acquired quite a reputation with its regular clients. Singhs client-list is glitzy and includes the Taj Group of Hotels, the US-based Kaff Group, The Oberoi chain (she furnished the rooms of The Oberoi Grand, Calcutta, The Oberoi, New Delhi, Trident Hilton, Mumbai and the Trident Agra) apart from MBD Radisson Noida and Radisson Jalandhar, Jaypee Hotels and ITC-Welcomgroup.
For the Taj Residency in Lucknow, Singh developed a paisley pattern based on Lucknows famed chikankari and used this fabric for curtains. While working with top-notch architect Pradeep Sachdeva at the Usha Kiran Palace in Gwalior, she went for the local chanderi material complete with the one-inch sari border to design the curtains, bed linen and cushions.
Though Singh didnt study textiles or textile designing, she took to developing fabrics with flair. Once I was in business, I also learnt from my clients as I observed how they used fabrics in their homes /offices, says Singh. She has also imbibed a lot from her team of karigars who create zardozi patterns on the fabric as well embroider the fabrics in silken threads.
Singh has about 10 looms on the outskirts of Delhi, and she gives inputs to her design team who develop the fabrics by doing further R&D on fabrication and design. Muslin also takes on the key task of customising bed linen for clients.
When it comes to trends, Singh says: Jacquard patterns are in vogue as are chenille and velvet which are plush fabrics. Then again, foil-printed polyester-blended fabrics are being used for cushions and to upholster accent furniture pieces, says Singh.
She adds that at the moment colours like aubergine have caught peoples fancy though chocolate combined with fuchsia, lime green and aqua are also preferred colours for fabrics.
Travelling with her husband to textile and interior design fairs in Paris and Germany helps keep Singh abreast of global trends. And so her collections have a new story to tell with each changing season.
Walk into Muslin and you might be dazzled by the jewel-hued, stone-embellished cushions or the foil-printed fabrics which are resplendent in gold, silver and copper against a backdrop of black, white, red or pink.
Muslins line of velvet Jacquard upholstery fabrics in blue, lime green and fuchsia cost anywhere between Rs 1,200-Rs 1,800 per metre. The foil-printed upholstery material that can jazz up dull interiors is tagged at Rs 1,500 per metre.
For curtains, her lines of silk and polyester Jacquards in shades of cream, beige, red and green are hotsellers, costing between Rs 800 and Rs 3,000 per metre. The linen embroidered bedspreads with cushions of varying sizes (at Rs 700 per piece) will set you back by Rs 5,500.
The summer arrivals at Muslin include Jacobean floral or dragonfly embroidered cushions at Rs 800 each, while cushions embellished with stone encrusted broaches come for Rs 850.
Keeping an eye out for the latest in design and colour trends, Singh — with Muslin in tow — is going from strength to strength.