India Today - - SIMPLY BUZZ -

“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 Web­site­soshab­byshop Con­tact dan­nymehra@ya­

Pho­to­graph by MANDAR DEODHAR

CUS­TOM DE­SIGNS Vi­nanti Kothari (right) of Not So Shabby

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