You are here: Home » Beyond Business » Features
Business Standard

Marrakesh on my shelf

Abhilasha Ojha  |  New Delhi 

While her company continues to export and linen products all over the world, Sarita Handa's own home resonates with not just Indian weaves and textures but also fascinating objects culled from flea markets.

It’s a very private space. So it obviously has to suit my needs and be comfortable,” says Sarita Handa, while I observe her adjusting one of the cushions, done up in rich silver wire embroidery. “It’s beautiful,” I whisper aloud when Handa, also the CEO of She Homes, points out another cushion with a motif on it. Actually, she needn’t direct me to anything. Handa’s home, spread over 3,600 sq ft of space in Gurgaon’s Laburnum, one of the first few luxury apartment complexes built in the NCR, is a treasure-house of rich Indian textiles.

A humble leather chair in Handa’s room, for example, gets a “patchwork” makeover with different textures of fabrics and block prints coming together to create Indian Summer, a design line in linen that Handa’s export company — also called — exports to markets all over the world. Her bedcover is a tribute to West Bengal’s kantha work, while another cushion cover in silk is decorated with traditional Kashmiri embroidery. Block prints from Rajasthan, traditional ambi motifs and Indian fabrics made by weavers “sitting in different parts of India” find resonance in Handa’s home.

Simply put, her residence is a tribute to the Great Indian Weaver and a glimpse into what she supplies to people all over the world. Not one to be dictated to by world trends (“Not for my home, no,” she emphasises), Handa feels that inherently her space is clean, with lots of natural light streaming in from all corners, comfortable and “very, very adaptable to change”.

Not one to strip down walls unnecessarily, Handa did make some changes when she moved to the from Delhi some years ago. So the entrance, guarded by a wooden Nandi bull dressed in garlands of fresh marigold flowers, leads to a corridor which offers a glimpse of the living room. One wall of the corridor is lined with a set of black-and-white photographs that Handa has begun collecting only recently. The other side of the wall was torn down to make way for a large, clear glass window. The effect is mesmerising, especially as it gives us a dekko into the living room, dotted with the knick-knacks and curios that Handa has collected over years of travel around the world.

There are silver artifacts, tealight holders in quartz, Egyptian candle stands, stained-glass lampshades, mirrors and ceramic bowls purchased from different flea markets around the world. With rich kilims from the flea markets of Morocco, a wonderfully carved wooden table from a bazaar in Sri Lanka, a dull black-and-red-toned ceramic bowl from a market in Germany and curios from a market lane in Marrakesh, Handa’s home seems to embody a journey that brings together a fascinating world of fantasy and magic.

“Everything is carefully handpicked,” she says, while I continue to grin and take a closer look at her possessions. “By the time you reach my age,” she smiles, “you too will have collected these.” I smile back, instantly understanding that despite a lack of any obvious design statement, Handa’s design style is reflected in the smaller things that she has collected for her home.

One might think that Handa’s home — in a way — is sparse, when you first look at it. But it’s a home that’s welcoming and exudes a lot of warmth. In terms of colours, Handa gravitates towards chocolate browns, beiges and very earthy tones. No, there are no shocking red or bold orange walls.

But there are incredible works of art from established as well as upcoming artists dotting the walls and corners of her home. So, while there’s “no obvious design philosophy as such”, Handa’s home brings together names like M F Husain, Jatin Das, Satish Gujral, K S Chari, and Paritosh Sen, to name only a few.

Not surprisingly, there are also Lladro, Daum or Lalique objects that appear to have been placed in just the right space, as if they had been longing to grace Handa’s home.

For someone who lives on her own, Handa was clear that, more than rooms, she wanted to indulge in space. So the partition wall between the lounge and her bedroom was broken down completely to create a compelling space, which emerges as one large unit. It’s a long, running space with rich, dark wooden flooring which encompasses Handa’s writing table (that’s stacked neatly with books), her bedroom area and her lounge area, complete with comfy seaters, lots of carpets, throws and what have you.

Given that she has such little time on her hands, Handa says that every Sunday she tries to make changes in at least some part of her home. “A little change every now and then is the trick to keep your home looking fresh,” she says as a parting shot. She’s planning her next journey very soon, and we’re already wondering which part of the world will rest in her living room when we visit her next.

First Published: Sat, October 24 2009. 00:08 IST