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LINES OF LUXURY

Sofa sets studded with mammoth Swarovski crystals and chairs that give you head-to-lower back massage. Stanley Boutique has all that an upmarket clientele can ask for


WHAT DOES a manufacturer of world-class car seating do when he wants to expand his business? He takes a deep breath, checks out the best leather at his disposal and branches out into customised leather furniture. That, in a nutshell, is the story of T. Maruthi Rao and his newly opened Stanley Boutique on Indiranagar's 100-Feet Road.

Through the outsize glass doors, the first glimpse of the interiors boutique is plush, luxurious and leather-centric. That's because Rao's foray into furniture retail concentrates on expensive seating based on exquisite Italian leather, accessorised by tables and cabinets from Italian brand Tonin Casa and exclusive, sophisticated lighting by Valenti, a niche player in the global market since 1929.

Largest importer

As India's largest importer and stockist of finished leather upholstery, what does the original Stanley range offer in its 3,800-feet showroom? Sofa sets studded with mammoth Swarovski crystals. Chic computer chairs that the hardworking back can curve into. Copies of the classic square-cushioned, stainless steel based Barcelona chair, complete with a footstool extension, besides its worldwide competitor, the Le Corbusier chair.

Sofa sets with steel legs, nests of peg tables, wall décor with leather tiles and so on. Recliners, couches, Chesters, bar stools, loungers and other seating arrangements that are classic or contemporary.

No wonder Rao's leather upholstery for the Aston Martin V8 prototype with interiors by Mumbai's Dilip Chhabria was chosen as the best among global contenders for a James Bond contest.

No wonder his clients read like the crème de la crème of the motoring world — General Motors, Ford, Mitsubishi and Volvo. While his corporate clientele for leather seating includes Wipro, Dell, Motorola, General Electric and IBM, individuals who have opted for his line include Sachin Tendulkar, Narayana Murthy and Azim Premji.

"We don't sell leather as leather. We offer the best leathers in six types and a range of 70 colours," explains Rao, stretching and offering samples of their leather, hung from a display wall. "We're specialists in custom-made leather. No customer has to buy a sofa set on display here. They can order even a single piece to suit their exact requirements, from the 250 designs we've produced so far."

What's special about Stanley leather? It is porous, fire-retardant, anti-static and allows for tremendous design flexibility.

Special products

Within the created nooks and flooring variations of the store décor, Rao points out special products. Such as the massage chair in elegant white leather, based on Japanese mechanism and U.S. recliner devices that offers a head to lower back massage with speed and time programmed by remote control. Before you know it, you have been tapped, kneaded or rolled into relaxation. But why would an Indian pick such a chair in a culture that can access hands-on massage? "Most techies on the run don't have the time for a real massage," says Rao. "So they prefer to just pick up our massage chair."

While the Tonin Casa centre tables are exquisite, with their curved glass and tonal variations, the Valenti lamps do not offer real competition to more upmarket lighting available in town. And some of the displayed peg tables from Mumbai's Fusion studio are poorly designed and crudely finished.

At the exit, you realise that Stanley lacks the sleekness of a true boutique experience. It raises troubling questions. Is the Barcelona chair free for all to copy? If ergonomic design is based on form flowing from function, what's the purpose of a crystal-studded sofa? Why does an upmarket Valenti lamp draw the eye to its bulb details?

Such quibbling apart, Stanley Boutique furniture will certainly draw in upmarket clientele. Because it presents the ultimate in indoor leather luxury. Stanley Boutique is at 4000/2A, 100-Feet Road, HAL II Stage, Indiranagar. Phone: 25357374/ 51261777.

ADITI DE

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