Bring home a touch of India

Bring home a touch of India

Indian motifs and Indian kitsch seem to be taking centre stage these days in the fashion world, and there seems to be a spill over in interior design as well.

This is just as well, because Indian themes have a lot to work with in terms of themes and motifs, allowing for some unique ways in which they may be implemented with contemporary design requirements of today.

How easy is it to go Indian with our décor? “We tend to forget how much Indian design has to offer,” says Jyothika Baleri, a city based architect. “While contemporary design may be functional in nature, its drawback lies in its uniformity and repetitive look. A touch of earthy Indian colours will do the trick here.” This, Jyothika goes on to explain, may be done with something as simple as doing up a futon with Indian silk cushions or including the classic Indian swing that is integral to traditional South Indian homes. The range of designs available in India vary vastly as you move from north to south, and any one of these may be brought into your homes to give your contemporary settings an Indian touch.

Right elements

What elements will work well? Most of us are familiar with Indian mirror work and paisley print designs. More people now are increasingly interested in the uncommon Punjabi Phulkari and the Odisha Ikat prints as well. Most Indian themes have an earthy palette of colours, such as browns, greys and greens. A lot of orange, white and blue is also seen. A never-fail colour combination would be gold and beige. Common materials used are cotton as well as silk fabrics.

Through it all, ensuring that there is a level of minimalism in terms of incorporating traditional elements is necessary, cautions B R Shridhar, a Bangalore-based architect. “No matter how traditional an element may be, it is important to pay attention to its scale, the proportion, as well as its texture and colour when bringing it into a contemporary set-up.”

One way in which to do it, he explains, is to balance the two themes by including small elements such as wood and stone into contemporary settings. For a larger, independent home, creating a traditional space like courtyard brings an interesting feel to contemporary space.

Focal points

A range of elements may be used — Indian materials and prints are aplenty and you will find something unique for your curtains, cushion covers, throw rugs, carpets, bedspreads and more. The materials themselves range from silk and cotton to jute and even wool.

Jyothika suggests making a single piece of furniture your focal point in a room, or perhaps using a carved trunk or a brightly painted kitsch chest-of-draws to add an element of Indianness. You could consider wrought iron centre or corner tables which easily work with contemporary furnishing plans.

The use of Indian motifs or tile inserts in pre-finished flooring is a smart option and is in trend these days.

Popular Indian themes today are kitsch, with its use of vibrant colours and motifs such as autos and lorries. A bright kitsch pallanguzi, which was a traditional board game, can rest on a corner table and add the ethnic element to the room. Also popular is the Chettinad styled home.

Antiques & artefacts

The Indian culture has a lot to offer us to showcase in our homes. Jyothika offers a few suggestions:

lUse small metal idols to brighten up a shelf. Add a bit of drama by using them as book ends.

lEmbroidered wall panels add charm to any room instantly.

lTanjore paintings and Ravi Varma paintings never go out of style.

lTraditional kettles and other utensils to accessorise can easily bring in the Indian look to a contemporary dining room and kitchen.

lUse of antique brass handles or ceramic hand painted knobs on existing furniture can also give an otherwise mundane cabinet an Indian touch. For example, brass handles on a bedside table.

lWood-carved borders added on existing door frames easily transform a contemporary doorway to a traditional ethnic one.

Considering the weather in Bangalore, Shridhar suggests going local with your choice of materials that may be used creatively to blend with your interiors, while giving it the Indian touch. Ideal materials would be khadi, bamboo, terracotta, slate, and even granite.

There is a lot that may be achieved as far as bringing Indianness to our décor goes. All it needs is an expert eye to provide you with the right suggestions for your space.

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