Fun with furniture

Fun with furniture

Indo-inspired: Potatoes, jaalis, and even the buzz of Indian streets have inspired two furniture designers, Gunjan Gupta and Paul Mathieu...

There is something enchanting about dipping into the realm of Indian culture and heritage. Their nuances and details whisper into your ear and unravel the age-old symphony of carefully crafted renditions.

So begins a cultural narrative of sorts, a dialogue between two Indophiles, an organic conversation between two creative minds. Furniture designer Gunjan Gupta brings out her quirky-yet-traditional sensibilities along with her signature rush of flamboyance: matka tables with perforations and cubbyholes shaped within; the gaddi bicycle seat, the potli chairs and the aloo bori chairs speak of her fascination for seating in the Indian environment. 

“I have created matka tables using the same kind of red stone used in building Delhi Fort and Fatehpur Sikri. The tiny element of utility adds a spot of charm, with the storage area within the matka bellies that can be used to stock up on coasters, playing cards, matches...” she says of her latest collection.

Gunjan draws her inspiration from the vast visual tapestry of Indian streets. “The ‘bicycle throne’ series captures the iconic vision of bicycle vendors seen on Indian streets framed in a halo of their own wares,” she says. “It subverts the social hierarchy of a throne and upgrades the street-style manufacturing process into a piece of sculpture.”

The potli chairs, the floating gadda, and the gadda chairs have been crafted using an eco-friendly jute linen blend.

Shapes abound in forms and textures. The bartan throne comes in as a configuration of brass utensils, hand-beaten by thateras.


The bulbous lumps in the aloo bori chairs resemble tubers. “They contain foam that are shaped like aloos to form a comfortable sofa,” reveals Gunjan with a smile.

“The aloo bori chairs are my favourite as they always bring a smile to everyone’s faces.”

For designer Paul Mathieu, India welcomes him with open-heartedness, warmth and generosity. His exquisitely crafted works are aesthetically austere yet floor the viewer through their sheer depth and dynamism. “There is so much here that constantly inspires me in my work — be it markets, cities, people, textiles, festivals... there’s so much that makes this landscape vibrant and culturally rich. There is constant movement in everything around me here. I love travelling from cities to villages by road and discovering something new every time,” he shares.

The kindness that he has received makes him collaborate freely with his friends and craftsmen in creating beautiful pieces of work. There are also long -lasting friendships and good memories. The Hanuman Chair is one such rendition.

“There was a need for colour in my home,” says Paul, explaining its fiery genesis. “When I looked around, orange was the colour I was most drawn to as I saw it everywhere in India. I took this colour to give a new dimension to the classic French ‘Louise’ club chair that I designed for the Stephanie Odegard collection a few years ago.”

And the Hanuman Chair was born, named after the blazing hue that reflects the glory of the monkey-god.



There is a clear fascination for jaalis that runs through Paul’s works. “One of my favourite Indian discoveries was how light gets through a jaali and how it forms patterns on floors or walls or on the clothes of those who passed by a jaali,” says Paul, deconstructing his love it.

“I have used a similar pattern and the concept for the JOUR marble furniture and lightings collection that I created for Stephanie Odegard. My inspiration comes from nature, art, architecture, things constantly happening around me during my travels. All the sounds, scents and feelings they create are soaked in by me subconsciously, which become part of my sketches and then develop into my designs. I’m also inspired by the craftsmanship of Indian artisans,” he enthuses.

( The 'Still Life' exhibition at Sunaparanta, Goa Centre For The Arts, Panaji, runs till December 15.)