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10 Indian Interiors in 10 Indian Cities

by Rohini Wahi

Last year, German photographer Karen Knorr published a book documenting the interiors of India’s opulent and colorful old palaces, temples and forts alongside acclaimed author William Dalrymple. That book, India Song, was filled with the sort of fairytale-like images that so many people identify with Indian architecture. I lost myself in these photos again while writing this post, dreaming about the lives of the people that inhabited these spaces and imagining the bare feet of the children of royalty that ran through these marble corridors and the lull of hot afternoons behind sugary stained glass.

But there is a new generation of  cafes, restaurants and hotels to bring this incredible architectural and design heritage into the future. Humming with cultural fusion, new talent bringing international perspectives and of course the craftwork that binds it all together, these contemporary interiors are changing the landscape of design and architecture in India. Today I’m sharing 10 of my favorite spaces in 10 different cities across India. –Rohini

 

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One of the incredible interiors photographed by Karen Knorr in the book, India Song. (A Place like Amravati 2, Udaipur City Palace, Udaipur)
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MUMBAI: THE PANTRY

Tucked into the busy winding side streets of Mumbai's art district, Kala Ghoda, The Pantry would look right at home in Marais with its pretty illustrated signage, pleated curtains and taupe and white color palette.
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MUMBAI: THE PANTRY

Inside is an ode to French industrial interiors with pastel colored vintage Bharat Tiles adorning the kitchen counter, recycled Burma teak and pine wood tables, gleaming white metro tiles and utilitarian Tolix chairs.
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JAIPUR: BAR PALLADIO

In the gardens of Jaipur’s historic Narain Niwasis Palace Hotel is Bar Palladio, re-designed by Dutch fashion designer Marie-Anne Oudejans into a modern interpretation of country club glamour.

Drawing on Mughal style and the opulence of 20th Century Maharajahs, the multi-room bar is given a theatrical feel with trompe-l'oeil painted and pierced architectural detailing on a backdrop of Royal Blue.
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JAIPUR: BAR PALLADIO

Hand painted murals and and prints both on walls play a key role in the aesthetic, with traditional Indian motifs interpreted in oversized repeats. Tented nooks with cushioned banquette chairs are illuminated by vintage brass lanterns and provide opulent hideaways.
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CALCUTTA: THE CORNER COURTYARD

Calcutta's newest boutique hotel, The Corner Courtyard, is situated within a restored 110 year old colonial town house and fuses eclectic European furnishings mixed with Indian charm. The hotel houses a bakery and restaurant and seven individually furnished rooms inspired by the city of Calcutta.
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CALCUTTA: THE CORNER COURTYARD
The hotel's 'Veridan' green room is inspired by the city's love of its famous sports grounds, zoo, and botanical gardens.
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DARJEELING: GLENBURN TEA ESTATE

Perched on a hilltop in Darjeeling is a set of family run bungalows, nestled among hundreds of acres of rolling tea gardens. The bungalow's grey pitched roofs, lacy architectural details and checkerboard tiled verandahs ooze old world charm.
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DARJEELING: GLENBURN TEA ESTATE

White wicker furniture, freshly painted deckchairs with vintage stripe cushions, shingled architectural details and the lazy hum of whirring ceiling fans take visitors back in time.
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DELHI: SOCIAL OFFLINE

Industrial interiors abound at Delhi's first collaborative work space for freelancers, Social Offline - a cafe, bar and workspace. The space spans 8,500 square feet and features filament lightbulbs, exposed pipes and up-cycled furniture teamed with hipster phrases emblazoned on walls and tableware in bold Hindi fonts.
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DELHI: SOCIAL OFFLINE

Upcycled work benches face rippling waters and verdant foliage of the Hauz Khas village reservoir. Warehouse-chic vibes highlight the original hardwood floors and high ceilings.
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PONDICHERRY: LA VILLA PONDI

In this part of India, French is still the official language and this intimate, six-bedroom hotel by architects Tina Trigala and Yves Lesprit reflects simple luxury with its elegant and contemporary aesthetic. Original beams, Tamil Nadu tiles and teakwood furnishings are complemented by contemporary maps of India painted on walls.
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PONDICHERRY: LA VILLA PONDI

Softly worn plaster walls, polished floors, organic furniture and teak details are layered for a calm and relaxing aesthetic.
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HYDERABAD: SODA BOTTLE OPENER WALA

Paying tribute to the eccentric and dying breed of Parsi cafes of Bombay, this eclectic eatery features a mash up of kitsch aesthetics: vintage glass paneled booths, retro glass light shades, checkered and crochet table cloths, cuckoo clocks, brass tea kettles, tiffin boxes, locks and old paraphernalia that you may find in a Parsi home and kitchen!
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HYDERABAD: SODA BOTTLE OPENER WALA

A cacophony of color builds up the unique narrative of a Parsi establishment.
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JODPHUR: RAAS

Raas is the superb restoration project of Nikhilendra Singh, along with many architects and craftspeople. Designed to reflect the unique character of Jodhpur, it combines modern blue and rose sandstone blocks with an ancient haveli.
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JODPHUR: RAAS

Jaali-slashed stone shutters dapple geometric light across 39 elegant bedrooms, suites and bathrooms. The furniture is custom-made from rosewood.
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BANGALORE: TOAST AND TONIC

Cosy and atmospheric, Toast and Tonic's chip-board walls and roof, handcrafted light fittings and rustic furnishings are designed to mimic Manhattan’s East Village vibe.
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BANGALORE: TOAST AND TONIC

A rustic gentleman's club-style corner is cozied up with tartan pillows and worn leather couches.
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GOA: ANTARES

Relaxed, earthy and textured, Antares restaurant in Goa is a dream of a spot, looking out onto the Indian Ocean and inspired by laid back Australian cuisine.

Wicker furniture, airy rattan light-shades and delicate hessian awnings add plenty of natural glamour.
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GOA: ANTARES

Plenty of contemporary wooden furniture, palm trees for days and an ancient ocean- what more could you want?

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Comments

  • It’s quite embarrassing and dare I say colonial, that the editorial on these photographs constantly compares the Indian spaces with those in the West. Can’t they be lovely and interesting in their own right? And how about some less gentrified and exclusionary spaces?

  • So fascinated by the restaurant ‘inspired by Australian cuisine.’ As an Australian, I always think of us as lacking identity/ culture (including cuisine), and grasping at anything that comes our way. Absorbing (cannibalizing), rather than giving out. Interesting to see that outsiders can see a distinct culture that they can draw on!

    • Hi Clare, yes I was too – it is headed up by Australian chef Sarah Todd – all about fresh and simply cooked food flavoured by a charcoal grill. Sort of a perfect fit for a Goan restaurant! : )

    • MS.Weatherbee, thankyou! It makes me want to go as well – alas India is so vast no matter how many times I return it doesn’t feel like I have experienced even a fraction of it. I am dying to hole up in that Darjeeling retreat this winter when I visit my grandmother in Calcutta… I will probably just end up rolling around on my bed in her home however – only waking to be fed ; )

  • @ Lena
    India has a cultural history spanning 4500 years. It is currently home to 1.2 billion people, and shares borders with 6 countries. Add to this increasing trade, tourism, migration, and internet access, you get design ideas that are constantly shifting as cultures influence each other.

    The influence of 87 years of British rule in their design aesthetic is just one moment in a culturally rich and diverse nation. I would go so far as to say the ‘western’ architecture in India is unlike what you’d find anywhere else due to the influence of traditional Indian design, religion, neighbouring cultures, materials, climate, & workmanship. Yes, it’s western influenced, but it’s become an iconic part of Indian design & history.

    • Wow Rae you sound like you have a real grip of design history, especially India’s I am sure I could learn a thing or two from you. Do you work in / are schooled in this area?

      • Hi Rohini
        No, not trained in design (but I read A LOT), & my day job couldn’t be more unrelated.
        Although my grandmother was born to an English father in Lahore under British Rule, and her mix of English & now-Pakistani heritage was a huge part of my childhood, I’m in no way fully conversant in India’s history.
        But I am interested in adopted/ blended cultures. From influence on a small scale (e.g. marriage), to decades of influence from colonisation (India/ Britain, Cuba/ Spain, Vietnam/ France).
        Plus, it annoys me when someone writes off part of a culture as ‘inauthentic.’ You can’t devalue a culture or label it inauthentic because its history offends you. People do crappy things. But out of that can come beautiful (and rebellious) creative expression.

  • I LOVE this piece! I’ve been to The Pantry in Mumbai– great space and delicious food! I love seeing pieces on Design Sponge from my hometown!

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