This week I've been put to task, a rather polite email from the team at Saffron Art had my week turned upside down. The team asked me pick my top five lots from their upcoming auction to be unveiled at a private soiree at Nido. In addition to selecting these pieces I will be revisiting a space I designed almost a year ago, working to find them a temporary home. The event for some of Saffron Art's most loyal clients comes as a lead up to Elegant Design, a new interior and decorative arts auction due 25th March. I spent the past week deliberating choices from an array of interesting pieces of antique furniture and artefacts for the event.
All this research made me think… When you're looking for antiques in Mumbai, the grim bi-lanes of Chor bazaar are the first to come to mind. Stacked away in those piles of dusty trash you're certain to find some object of interest. But lets face it, c isn't for everyone; on a sweltering summer day with humidity levels hitting 85 per cent jumping across open manholes and dogging goat droppings is not the most appealing of activities. And for the daring souls that do make it through all the chaos begins the exhausting task of haggling as they move across heaps of reproductions and fakes looking for the real deal. In any case look out for our feature on the best of Chor Bazaar coming soon.
Fortunately for us antique junkies there are other options. Scattered across the city, in more hygienic locations are several stores that deal exclusively with authentic antique goods and furniture. Ofcourse there's the obvious choice of Phillips Antiques. Currently spearheaded by Farooq Issa, founded in 1860, Phillips Antiques' 5,000 square foot Colaba space is filled to the brim with endless selections of silverware, pottery, jewellery, storage solutions, engravings, paintings, furniture and books. It's easy to get lost in the endless sea of choices. I went on a little treasure from north to south hunting down some untapped stores the city has to offer. But before you start shopping, here are some tips to keep in mind when you're on the prowl.
When antique shopping make sure to look out for signs of restoration. Be extremely wary of fake pieces! Always try to look for a provenance.
Using pieces in a contemporary context is a great way to add a little character to the space.
Look for pieces that have interesting narratives and histories.
Gazing down upon the city from the top Malabar hill, Mahendra Doshi's store offers a lot more than a spectacular view. One of India's first antique dealers, the forty year old business has passed down to Mahindra's nephews Chiki and Asim Doshi and Anand Gandhi. The narrow passages of the three-floor studio are lined with towers of exquisitely crafted antique pieces remnants of times gone by. The piece that really caught my eye however, was a pair of exquisitely carved chairs. The century old rosewood chairs were brought in from Goa.
With an ideal mid-town location, the now 25 year old Hally Pacific is easily accessible from any part of the city. It's not hard to get lost in the meandering piles of Portuguese and Ductch colonial furniture and artefacts that fill the studio's multi levelled space. It's also a great place to find regency, art deco, retro and restored furniture. Dealer Farida Hoosenally has spent years discovering and restoring excellently crafted collections of beds, cabinets, sofas, tables, lighting and artefacts.
Entering Kavita Singh's 3,000 sqf Bandra space feels like walking into someone's residence with couches, high back chairs, iron chandeliers and art objects in every corner. The new boutique which I had the privlege to preview deals in both contemporary and antique pieces. It's one of the new places you can find antique Picchwais, some date back to the 17th century. Generally found in north India around the Nathdwara region of Ragasthan. Kavita Singh has some detailed Picchwais painted on cotton with silk, brocades and embroidery.
Sandeep Mukherjee at Project 88
Be sure to drop by Project 88 for Traces and Tears, a series of paintings by Los Angeles based artist Sandeep Mukherjee. The experimental paintings on duralene create an array of visual textures. Mukherjee uses thin layers of paint and a range of tools from brushes, rollers, brooms and sponges creating large scale pieces that reference multiple themes in art history, especially abstract and process art. Mukherjee's works have been collected by important collections like the MOMA, this is his second solo at Project 88 and is definitely worth checking out.