A man and a woman. Between them a couch and an argument with enough wattage to light all the art deco lamps rescued from shuttered cinema halls.
“Okay, how about a sky blue couch, half leather, half fabric and a Suzani embroidered back?” Sold to the couple who just kissed and made up.
Offering this solution is Srila Chatterjee, who likens being an interior designer to a marriage counselor. A founding partner at blueFROG and ad film producer at Highlight Films, this is Srila’s latest role: design curator and store owner of Baro, a label that ships all over India, with a new store in Mumbai.
Baro started up as Highlight Living, Srila and art director Siddharth Sirohi’s experiments with furniture, sold out of an office; now it has an identity, home and friends who like to sleep over. Read on for all the pillow talk.
Baro opened yesterday but we snuck in over the weekend, weary and withered from a week of partying, to rest our derrieres on deco couches, leather loungers and mid-century dining chairs. There’s tea and coffee to drink (unlimited champagne if you visit during open house on November 12 & 13), while you browse beds, fight over furnishings – parrot or pickle jar print – and wonder if Srila will sell you the original Souza or Simeen Oshidar that hang in the store. “Make me an offer I can’t refuse and I might,” she laughs.
Other offers you’ll make here however, will be far from unreasonable (most of them, at least), as Baro attempts to offer hand-crafted teak furniture at prices that won’t stress you out. Our favourites include mid-century style Ballroom sofa covered in burgundy velvet, probably finding long-lost family connections with the art deco lights that swing above it. A hefty green chair rescued from blueFROG’s lounge area (the console is on sale too) before the wrecking ball came – “it’s called the Green Frog” – a nice reminder of the day the music died. There’s also a Nawab desk; a dining table with industrial-style legs; a freshly minted bookshelf with attached console; a bright purple diwan. For those who have the patience however, a walk through Chor Bazaar could yield similar finds at cheaper prices, though quality and finish can’t always be guaranteed.
A hefty green chair rescued from blueFROG Bombay’s lounge area before the wrecking ball came – “it’s called the Green Frog” – a nice reminder of the day the music died.
Heads Will Rock and Roll
We love Baro’s effort in promoting Indian tribal folk art (Gond, Kalighat, Pichwai), best reflected in a horizontal pattachitra painting that depicts Sita’s abduction by Ravana. Other heads they’ve collaborated with include White Pomegranate and Anokhi from Kolkata (rechristened as Russell Street to avoid confusion with Bombay’s Anokhi) that offers pretty printed fabrics for upholstery, curtains and blinds; a Jaipur art-collective called Wolf that has put out a cow table made out of old keyboards; and designer Krsna Mehta who will do an India Circus for Baro capsule collection.
Those who know Srila or have been to her home, know that she has a great eye for odds and ends picked up during travels or meetings with other art dealers, many of which you can buy at Baro: wooden dolls from a temple in Gujarat; embroidered textiles from Uzbekistan (used as dowry cloths); and a tacky-cool mirror with an under-the-sea theme.
Finally, we come up for air from under the sea and find ourselves sitting on that sky blue couch that saved a marriage. Above us, two tear drop shaped lights go out.
Getting there: Visit www.baro-india.com to browse — and place your order over the phone on 022 40344888; shipping all over India. In Mumbai, visit the store at 12, Sunmill Compound, next to True School of Music, Lower Parel, open daily except public holidays, 11 am to 7 pm; view the Facebook page here. Rs 8,000 for a dining chair, Rs 80,000 for a sofa.
Accessibility: The ground floor is easy to access, but there is no elevator or ramp to get to the first floor.
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