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FURNISHINGS AS FANTASY

ADITI DEADITI DE


FURNISHINGS HAVEN'T exactly been the talk of the town, at least within the Indian context. But Atmosphere, the new showroom opened on September 11 by the Himatsingka Seide group, prepares the warp for redefinitions. For the luminous, sensuous, alluring drapes that have conquered European and American buyers over the past 16 years since its Dodballapur plant was set up are now reaching out tentatively to the high-end home-grown market.

What's in store for the discerning? A perfect teak leaf that morphs into a tracery of veins in an all-over pattern adapted from the scanned original. The same motif more emphatically placed for an alternate statement. Sinuous white oleander leaves creeping up a swathe of sun bright yellow. These textiles are in pure silk, silk-linen, cotton-viscose, silk-organza, and silk-viscose-cotton. Woven from Chinese or Brazilian silk, or Italian cotton, they stun the eye because of their dramatic distance from currently available furnishings. Each has a poetic name that impels recall, such as Yoko, Morning Glory, Fossil, or even Geometrique. Each is offered in a range of "colour feelings", according to store manager, Shaista Asghar.

Reinterpreting natural forms, which have been the mainstay of textiles since time immemorial, Atmosphere allows customers to breathe in the feel of fantastical fabrics. Housed in a high-ceilinged, marble-tiled store of pristine white spaces, brilliant with sunbeams filtered through frosted glass planes, these unique textiles, priced between Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 1,800 a metre, make a double style statement. They prove that the imagination and know-how at work at India's largest high-tech silk plant make for sheer loom magic. And that the design team, led by National Institute of Design-trained Jayshree Poddar, has a gift for realising minimalism. Each weave appears to celebrate the textile art.

Testimony to these truths lie in the braided hot pink swathes of silk that intertwine through three parallel stainless steel rods in the passageway, seducing both the eye and the touch, between rough-hewn, off-white fabric similarly rendered. Each niche in the office walls is rendered with panache. One contains an old, fine-toothed wooden handloom against the backdrop of a jacquard and dobby loom, while another has still-tied hanks of raw silk filament. The settees, cloaked in white and gold fabric, glow in the midday sun, offset by two rectangular cushions of white gold. Pristine blooms in white pots set off a brown, life-size palm leaf that dances off its silken beige drape.


In the rear gallery, there are signs of future bed and bath linen, and other future stock. Such as the palm leaf furnishing combined with another gauzy one for a stunning cushion cover. Or a curved sofa in motif-rich white, with a dead white casually thrown over-drape to draw the eye away from its perfection. In time, the eye wanders to a well-crafted film on the Himatsingka Seide plant on a plasma screen to focus on strands of connectivity.

If India has made its mark among furnishing buyers in the US, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and other venues, the evidence is here. The first of a chain of stores to open in Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai, and Kolkata, the Bangalore flagship showroom dazzles as much by its lyric-inspiring stocks as by its fluid, airy spaces. The brainchild of visionary-businessman Dinesh Himatsingka and his son Srikant, Atmosphere appears set to go places.

In case you're wondering about the "seide" in the firm's name, it's German for silk. An appropriate tribute to the understated perfectly draped ambience of this unusual store. Or should that be atmosphere?

Atmosphere, on Vittal Mallya Road, is open from 10 a.m. to 7.30 p.m.. It can be contacted on 51120820.

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