Mughal magic

Product designers are looking back in time to add a dash of royal opulence to your home, says Varuni Khosla

By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 7.04.13
  • Sarthak and Sahil's Mughal-style bed and chair(below) are inspired by the hexagonal designs on the Red Fort

Would you like to lie back in the exotic-sounding Noorjehan Reclines? That's a chaise lounge in crimson acrylic with jali-work inspired by Akbar's tomb on its base. Or does Aurangzeb's Checkmate sound more intriguing? This coffee table with black-and-white jali-work is eye-catching. Product designer Mozez Singh has carried his love for everything Mughal into an edgy, modern collection.

Mughal designs — those paisley patterns, the lotuses and stylised floral designs, mother-of-pearl inlay work and calligraphic inscriptions —are fast becoming the stuff of accent pieces in modern living spaces. Far from being cast aside, Mughal motifs are being revived and reinvented by India's top product designers.

These motifs have quietly crept into interiors. They've surfaced as patterns on bed-heads and footboards, on chairs, as prints in cushions and bedspreads, as inlay designs on stone tabletops, and even as art installations.

  • Mozez Singh has designed a lamp in black acrylic with tiger's eye detailing and calligraphic inscription in Persian

But if you're worried that your Italian leather sofa will not gel with the inlay or jali-patterned table, don't fret. Or if you're wondering whether Mughal designs should be incorporated into interiors at all, given that straight-lines are in, you can rest easy. "Mughal motifs infused with contemporary designs make for statement pieces. Mughal style doesn't always translate into overtly ornate furniture or extremely busy prints, especially if the designer has used these patterns discreetly," says interior designer Sarthak Sengupta of Sahil & Sarthak Design Co.

  • Bani Thani, a painting at The Delhi Design Store, features traditional Mughal jali motifs. Photo Jagan Negi.

The patterns are extremely popular on furnishings. Product and textile designer Anita Dalmia, has created an entire cushion-cover collection based on Mughal designs. "Mughal designs are timeless," she says. Dalmia's cushions are kitschy yet traditional with designs in pastel shades that depict Mughal jewellery motifs. Since she retails online, this Mughal line of cushions can be purchased on (Rs 2,449 per cushion).

Product designer Kanish Bhargava too has gone heavy on paisley designs on cushion covers (Rs 700 per cover). These can be bought online at

  • The Lotus Wall installation designed by Gautam Dhawan in Makrana marble, is a head-turner

Mozez Singh, whose collection Mughal Pop retails at Good Earth, says: "I was awestruck by Mughal designs and wanted to contemporise them. I studied Mughal monuments, motifs, fabrics and gardens — practically everything that the Mughals ever created." His Mughal-inspired line includes recliners, tables, chairs and other pieces that are studded with semi-precious gems like tiger's eye and carnelian. A piece that stands out is a lampshade made in acrylic with tiger's eye detailing and calligraphy on the shade that says I am love in Persian (Rs 73,500).

Devi Design Studio in Gurgaon too has turned to the Mughals for inspiration. Pick from a selection of bowls (above Rs 500) and tables with jali designs in brass, copper and aluminium (Rs 18,500). The products are also retailed online at Aanchal Goel of Devi Design Studio says: "One should look for high-end metal for bowls and tables with such intricate designs. It's best to avoid cheaper metals that tarnish or corrode easily."

  • Anita Dalmia's range of cushions is embellished with motifs inspired by Mughal jewellery. Photo Jagan Negi.

Sarthak and Sahil have created an entire collection for the bedroom and drawing room inspired by the Mughals. Intricately carved teak beds and sofas draw inspiration from the architecture of Delhi's Red Fort. Hexagons that appear prominently in different parts of the fort have been transposed on beds and sofas, with entire head-boards and foot-boards made with the hexagon patterns. The sofas are priced at Rs 45,000 and a bed (with two side-tables) is tagged at Rs 1.2 lakh.

At a different level, Monica Khanna of Delhi Design Store has tied up with Royal Studios of Princess Vaishnavi Kumari of Kishangarh, Rajasthan, to source her artwork with Mughal influence. A portrait of a Rajasthani woman against a jali design reminiscent of the jali-work in the Taj Mahal is a piece she loves (Rs 13,500).

She has also hand-painted lotuses on bed sheets and bedcovers and designed elaborate tea-light holders with intricate lattice-work.

  • Devi Design Studio offers a selection of brass and copper bowls and tables with geometric Mughal patterns

And if you'd rather go for a head-turner, check out The Lotus Wall installation at Exhibit D, the signature store of interior and product designer Gautam Dhawan. Designed in the famous Makrana marble, the stone used to make the Taj Mahal, the leaves in the installation are hand-made in brass and nickel, silver-plated and given a high-gloss finish while the lotuses are hand-carved in the marble. "Mughal art and architecture was liberal in the use of lotuses, flowers and buds," he explains. The price of the installation starts at Rs 1.8 lakh — which means that the designer will customise it for you in the size that you want.

Here's some food for thought: where a couture collection doesn't last beyond a season, Mughal motifs have survived for over centuries. Reason enough to bring them home.