A lavish touch
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- Published 25.02.12
From designing interiors of enchanting luxury trains to opening a two-storey design store tucked away in Delhi’s Chattarpur Hills, Monica Khanna has followed her heart. Khanna, 40, is not just a successful interior designer but a businesswoman who spends the better part of her time sourcing furniture for her store from across the world.
It took her just eight months to set up The Delhi Design Store, which opened its doors two months ago. “Initially I just wanted to collect a lot of pieces and organise them in one place. The idea of setting up a store fell into place once I began collecting,” she says with a smile.
Khanna today juggles a career in interior design with running the store. She undertakes three to four interior design projects for homes and offices in a year and also travels abroad at least three times in that period.
“When I’d see wonderful designs and products in stores across the world, I wanted to bring them back to India. And voila…,” she points to some wooden recliners positioned in one corner of her store.
The Delhi Design Store is a one-stop-shop for wood and cement furniture for the house, home accessories like crockery, coasters, candle stands and more. “Aside from India, I source products from Sri Lanka, Thailand and Hong Kong,” she says.
Another reason she wanted to bring back products to India was because she felt that the furniture market here has come to a standstill. “A lot of times one finds that established furniture stores stop experimenting with styles and designs after a point,” says she.
Her store, by the way, is tucked away out of sight from the main road of Chattarpur Hills and is designed as a standalone property that exudes a cottage-like feel. “I wanted to be exclusive and not be available to everyone. This is because a lot of people want products that are limited edition,” says Khanna.
Some of these pieces are collapsible chairs crafted with age-old wood. “Very few people make such products,” she says. And adds: “While working on luxury trains — the Palace on Wheels and Royal Orient — I came across a lot of craftsmen who were doing some very good work. So, I decided to use their skills to make ethnic but contemporary furniture for my interior designing projects and for restoring furniture,” she says.
Khanna feels that trends in the interior space today are minimalist and simple. “I think people are attempting to bring back rustic tones in their homes. So, a lot of our clients even want cement flooring. In a way, simplicity is merging with quality.”
Khanna says large headboards, backrests, lighter detailing and smooth curves are all very popular right now. “I think fusion is the way to go and one must tread the middle path. For, if you become too ethnic, too contemporary or even too rustic, you can go completely wrong. And if you have one focal point, that too can go horribly wrong,” she says.
She says that she would personally steer clear of buying carved furniture pieces for her home. “With the kind of lifestyles we have, it’s a pain to clean them. The kind of detailing curved pieces have also give the room a very burdened feeling,” she says.
And when it comes to colours in interiors, earthy tones — beige, cream and green — merge well with a bit of bold red or purple.
The Delhi Design Store, in essence, sells lifestyles and plenty of limited edition products. For instance, a Goan leather-upholstered planter’s chair was procured and restored from a collector (Rs 24,000).
A set of three pieces from Sri Lanka can fit into a lobby easily. This includes a long cement table (Rs 4,200), a cement urn (Rs 3,500) and a wrought-iron, floor-standing garden lamp (Rs 7,500). All three can be purchased individually as well.
An über-luxurious sofa made in Burma teak and leather has a curved back, making it a perfect fit for the drawing room or den. The cost of the couch is not so comforting though, as it will clean you out by Rs 1.85 lakh.
A set of three oil lamps from Thailand comes with a black marble base. What makes the lamps special is the fact that they have different compartments to store oil and water. In the first compartment are the wick and oil, which can be replenished, while the second compartment can be filled with fresh flowers and water. The set is priced at Rs 10,115.
A set of two restored recliners made in old Burma teak costs Rs 38,000 while a large cement urn from Sri Lanka — perfect for floating candles and flowers — will cost Rs 3,500.
Photographs by Rupinder Sharma