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Colonial touch

`Wood `n' Wicker World', Chennai's latest furniture store showcases fascinating colonial style furniture from the Far East.

THE ELEGANCE and sheer romance of furniture forms that emerged when `East met West', are now part of period furniture history circa 17th to early 20th Centuries. Oriental lines and curves, Chinese dragons and native hand skills merged with European elegance and comfort to reinvent sofa sets and escritoires, corner stands, bar cabinets, side-boards, beds, settees and what not, investing them with a certain lightness of touch, a distinctive chic and sometimes even a touch of whimsical charm. And for lives often lived in the tropics in verandahs, and rivers, `steamer chairs', `planter's chairs', and `collapsible bars' came into existence crafted out of locally available rattan, mahogany and teak.

Capturing in their every curve and line, the fascinating history of colonial rule and the lifestyle of its creators... `Wood `n' Wicker World', Chennai's latest furniture store which opened this past week showcases a fascinating range of colonial style furniture from the Far East.

The craftsmanship and reproduction techniques are par excellence, evoking an era when customised handcrafted craftsmanship was the order of the day. The range includes wicker and carved sofa sets — from Indonesia and the Philippines in various styles, evocatively named — `Sophie', `The Bogor', `Betawi' and so on. Fine rattan-weave wooden-frames with a touch of `local' carving and the European period touch make the sofa sets elegant pieces of furniture. The mahogany and teak furniture items open up a whole world of colonial period furniture flavours. Dutch corner tables and pastry cabinets converted into charming `bars' stand beside beautifully finished Davenport tables and French escritoires exuding elegance. A beech wood dining table with uniquely fashioned chairs wafts in colonial times, as do the steamer chairs that stretch out forever! Some interesting hall stands featuring stained glass and sideboards with Dutch colonial overtones in mahogany compel attention at `Wicker `n' Wood World'.

For the Oriental buff, there are Chinese art deco "Shanghai set" chairs, a lovely composition of fluid Chinese furniture lines and hand painted motifs on the back rest and seat surround. The lovely Thai Raksudkangur corner stand is another Far Eastern scene stealer, crafted out of `burnt' wood and literally covered with bunches of carved and painted grapes... Furniture browsing and surfing can be great fun at `Wood `n' Wicker World'! You might find a very Chinese `anchoring' or `octopus' table in mahogany or straight-backed Dutch chairs for your writing table. There are single and double-seater `harp' chairs too and any number of occasional tables to accent ones living spaces...

Also artefacts in the shape of dragons, Balinese dancers, masks and much else. `Wood `n' Wicker World's' Hisham and Masood promise a continuous flow of `imported' handcrafted colonial-style furniture from Indonesia and Bali, China, Philippines and Thailand. And to pick them up, one needs to go no further than the showroom at B1, Crystal Lawns, Wallace Gardens, 2nd Street , Nungambakkam.

PUSHPA CHARI

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