How have trends in furniture changed over the years?
Siddharth Sirohi of Baro India describes how interior aesthetics in India evolved in keeping with changing times
India in the pre-liberalisation era was a different being altogether. Everything arrived at our shores about two decades later, while something like Nike shoes didn’t arrive at all, and we would have to make do with drawing swooshes down the sides of our Batas.
While the world basked in the grandeur of Art Deco in the early part of the 20th century, it was only by the 50s that the aesthetics were adopted in India as the new avant-garde force (and it lasted several decades). Though it could never stage out the colonial hangover so deeply ingrained in us. So much so that a unique indigenous style developed by merging the two. Around the 70s, Mid Century Modernism made its impact felt in a big way. Laminates and veneered plywood became the new big things and furniture moved away from the sole dominion of wood. This further added to the indigenous mix and now we could find all three influences in most of our houses. We all grew up in homes filled with conical legs and carved furniture. The 80s brought about excess typically associated with the decade. Bulky sofas, larger than life beds, boxy TV cabinets, all typically laid out on wall to wall carpeting.
The big change came about in the 90s when we were able to close the gap with the rest of the world a little. I would largely square that on the availability of not just the furniture itself but foreign and Indian interior magazines that were suddenly available for us to share with our carpenters.
By the 2000s we were experimenting with minimalism and its Indian avatars. Boxy and straight lined designs, L-shaped sofas, dominant coffee tables entrance consoles, beds with large fabric headboards, all reflected our sudden climb into affluent consumerism. All through this time, however, there still existed a parallel population that still held the colonial aesthetic as the Holy Grail of interior decoration.
In the past twenty years we have refined, and further refined, our aesthetic choices and there now exists a much clearer, individual voice in our home. Sets have given way and you can now find completely different chairs at a dining table; the living room is a combination of varied seating and people are experimenting brazenly with fabric, and colour has been invited into furniture in a big way. We are also turning back to classics and appreciating solid foundations in design in context with a modern outlook. There is a never before clarity of our own selves, and that is being reflected in our