Brand advisor and writer Priti Mahajan opens up her captivating South Mumbai home, which she has decorated with an eclectic mix of arts and crafts.
My family and I love living in heritage homes in quiet leafy lanes. Our home has a distinct feel to it - floors of cement tiles in myriad colorful patterns, stunning high ceilings with skylights, and a gorgeous pink Champa grove behind. We always stay guided by our space and the large number of unusual objects we have accumulated through two decades of travel.
Our style is eclectic - we enjoy the tropics and integration of the inside with the outside. Colour makes us happy and flows seamlessly through our space. The foundation however of all design in our home lies in craft from all across the country - rugs made by masterweavers, brass sculptures from Bastar, Pichhwai from Nathdwara, Theyyam head from Kerala along with global influences - sculptures from the archaeological museum in Greece, artworks by famous Sri Lankan artist Ruwan Prasanna and a stunning black and white sketch of a Banyan Tree by a Balinese artist to name a few. Wherever in the world we may be, we always get a little bit of that back into our lives in Mumbai.
Over a decade ago, along with Delhi based Loco Design - we got a gorgeous bar customized in the shape of a suitcase. The leather has weathered over the years which has a subtle beauty of its own. It easily houses our collection of liquor, wine, and glasses and our friends love lingering around the bar whenever they visit. Another favourite is a large blue ceramic urn bought from the souk in Marrakesh with Arabic inscriptions. We hand-carried it all the way back home and it's one of our favourite pieces. Along with it, we carried back a beaten leather, hand-painted pouf which is the star of our living space.
Before anything else we are travellers and you can see that pan out in the story of the objects and artifacts around our home. A rug woven by nomadic tribes in the high Atlas Mountains is one of our most treasured pieces amongst our vast rug collection. As is a traditional lifesize 3D Tanjore by a highly awarded artist based in Chettinad.
One of our favourite pieces of art has to be a life-size photograph of a native Ethiopian woman, shot by world-famous photographer Phil Borges bought from an antique dealer in Johannesburg. We also have a substantial collection of faces by Indian artists - Anjolie Ela Menon and Vaikuntam to name a few. I have a passion for styling spaces and my own home is an expression of the same. Textiles are very close to my heart and we have bedspreads and cushions from Ranjit Ahuja and Nomad, Suzanis from Istanbul, Batik from Bali, and textiles from remote parts of West Africa. Old jars and urns from Burma are another favourite and so are glass bottles. I have these two stunning gigantic round glass bottles which are absolutely rare and sit on the floor next to a casual sofa in the corridor.
Then there are the lights - so many placed all across the house - table lamps from Paradise Studio to Geoffrey Bawa Lights from The Bentota Workshop. There's a large, part art deco/ part modern light that hangs in our living room which was designed over a decade ago along with a Swiss couple - Soto Decor from Goa. There is a standalone brass pedestal light with a glass globe sourced from Tahir Ali which reminds me of the Corbusier designed lights in my home town of Chandigarh. There are one-offs bought from various trips to Chor Bazaar - sourced from the Palaces of Baroda and Gujarat.
Living in South Bombay is an absolute treat for the eyes and the soul! The juxtaposition of the stately architecture of the Fort area with contemporary influences is fantastic. My all-time favourite thing to do is walk around the leafy lanes near our earlier home in Colaba. Other favourite places to spend my time would be the Kala Ghoda area around the synagogue, grabbing hot cacao from Sequel and endless evenings swimming at Bombay Gym followed by drinks and dinner at Table or Americano! There is a healthy dose of culture - plays and music evenings at NCPA and midnight strolls on the promenade outside the Taj.
I think this pandemic has helped us appreciate our home better. We had little help in the earlier months and we learnt to care for our art, textile, and furniture. It definitely made us more self- reliant. Comfort became the new buzz word and started reflecting in all choices we made from food to fashion. It helped that we had a large home and there was sufficient space for the three of us to work, study, and relax.