CARPETS OF CONVERSATIONS
“People collect paintings, I collect tribal carpets,” says Danny Mehra, who has been doing this for the past 25 years. Last year, the Bangalore-based retiree began exhibiting his collection across the country, with the carpets up for sale to the interested, because he realised he had enough to cover a football field. Here's what he recommends for first-time buyers:
How do you recommend a carpet or rug be used to change the look of a room?
When you think of a carpet, you think of the floor. But really you can also use them on walls, on top of furniture and tables or even on beds as blankets. In Mumbai, since the spaces are smaller, tribal carpets are ideal because they are not very large. Use two or three smaller 4x6 or 5x7 rugs for a floor. They become interesting conversation pieces—everyone will stop and look at them, talk about the iconography and the rich art that they’re trying to represent. Depending upon the rest of the décor, the carpets can either dominate or blend in. If it’s a centrepiece, then use colour otherwise opt for those from southwest Iran made from undyed wool.
What advice would you give to a firsttime buyer?
Buy whatever makes you happy. Don’t buy something that the dealer is telling you is important. The knots per square inch and the stories are all meaningless if you don’t really like the carpet. You’re going to be living with it for a long time and so it must have timeless appeal. Tribal carpets are so spontaneous and rich in iconography that you keep discovering new things. Of course you also need to consider budget. So if you’re spending north of Rs 50,000, then you can get something truly interesting. Anything less than that and you won’t get an original. Or it probably won’t be knotted.
Are you partial to a certain tribal group?
I’m partial to five regions—Persia (Iran), Anatolia (Turkey), the Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Dagestan), Central Asia (Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan) and various Kurdish enclaves. These were the cradles of carpet weaving in ancient times.
Do you suggest sticking to the style of just one region?
I would probably mix them up. They have a lot of symbols relating to people’s daily life and having different ones would mean more conversations.
What should one consider when it comes to colour or design?
What’s great about tribal carpets is that they work very well with modern décor even though they’re 19th century pieces. Kashmiri designs tend to be very floral, but these are abstract, geometric designs. Although they have an individual soul, they blend in very nicely with modern decor.
How does one acquire a tribal carpet?
Well, you can’t just go to a store and buy them. You could hunt them down through auctions. I haven’t been able to find any other collectors in India. I’ve started to sell my collection, because I have too many.
Is maintaining a tribal rug in Mumbai likely to be a challenge?
Probably yes. You’ve got to guard them against the elements, but most homes are now climate controlled so that’s less of an issue. Once a month put it out in the sun, don’t roll it and put it away in a corner where it is dark and humid. reclaimed wood a chic new avatar. Apart from being pretty, her products are extremely utilitarian. Especially her line of Ikea-inspired lap desks—vibrant fabrics cover the cushions on one side, while the wooden desk on the other is colourfully painted as a desk or as a chalk board. “I thought people would really appreciate this product as some are more comfortable doing their homework or working on the laptop from their bed or sofa. Also not everybody has a study table with such tight spaces in the room,” says Kothari. The designer took up the saw to test her limits and fuel her curiosity after returning from the UK armed with a degree in architecture. “I converted my balcony into my small workshop and started collecting the few sets of necessary machinery and using them watching YouTube tutorials,” reveals Kothari. Not So Shabby also undertakes custom orders. A few of their other interesting products include a chalkboard with mail storage and hooks, lamps made out of GI pipe and Edison bulbs and a design gallery wall with custom layouts of frames. Tel 7767919809 Website facebook.com/notsoshabbyshop Contact email@example.com
CUSTOM DESIGNS Vinanti Kothari (right) of Not So Shabby