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Trappings of the good life

K S Shekhawat  |  New Delhi 

Anjali Goel designs complete "ensembles" for the super rich, looking for that distinctive touch of luxury in their homes. visits the La Sorogeeka factory and comes away a little fazed at the over-the-topness of it all.
Her black and white ensemble should be pointer enough that Anjali Goel's colour palette is going through a stark phase of renunciation. "I've done colour before, I'm now in a mellower phase," she says. That is, if you make allowances for gold and silver, for opulence "" for "luxury" as Goel prefers to label it.
Somewhere off the Greater Noida expressway, in the jumble of roads that lead one off the other, pockmarked as much by traffic as the elements (and if like me you have no sense of direction, don't try and navigate there on your own), is a three acre industrial plot that stands out for its clean lines and lush landscaping.
Here, in a hastily built office that is also her factory and immense showroom, is La Sorogeeka's piece de resistance "" a walkthrough of entire rooms and concepts that the company has been selling for almost two decades for wealthy clients spread through India "" "I have all of Raipur," says Goel smugly, "and Kanpur" and a lot of Ludhiana to boot, besides doing the "villas for the Adani family in Dubai".
At a time when designers are, well, a dime a dozen, Goel's gamble with size and scale is hardly unexpected "" if not her, someone else would have done it.
After all, imported furniture is no longer the flavour of the season, particularly when it comes to the top-end segment that wants everything customised, and with connotations of luxury built in as much into detailing as the use of rich materials, it is hardly surprising that Goel's order book is full and bursting at the seams.
Yet, her work isn't for everyone, and clearly abhors trends. It might not appeal to sensibilities still stuck with minimalism, or even those that prefer merely comfort over style. True, she does work on themes, but the interpretation is fairly flexible.
So, the Persian ensemble created by her relinquishes the expected Middle Eastern touches for bolder embellishments, the fussiness is saved by applique work that provides a motif that would not look out of place in another setting... eventually, it is the combination of materials and styles in this, as in her other "ensembles", that gives her a unique identity.
Wood (teak, ash, ebony but treated to appear like wood in one place, layers of sand in another, even cast iron in a third collection) that is cut, carved, veneered, polished to high gloss and matte on the same surface, meets metal (silver, steel) along with leather (sometimes velvet embossed), mother-of-pearl and fabric to create a look Goel insists is "for a whole space".
La Sorogeeka does not cater to those who come looking for chairs or tables or carpets; here, the promoters are interested only in catering to a complete look that includes wall finishes and pelmets along with soft furnishings, specially created lights for each look, artworks and furniture, and though there is only one of them and then only in the office area, an assistant comments that the company's "bathrooms are really yummy".
And that might well be true for a crystal cascade hangs over the wash basin, set within a frame of stone, wood and steel, while leather and tinted glass complete the interiors of the office powder room. It "" and this could be true of La Sorogeeka, of course "" is over the top, but what helps it is that the quality is impeccable.
Not just the joineries and finishes, Goel's attempt to think out of the box, thereby rejecting bazaar solutions in favour of inhouse R&D, has resulted in even the handles of her furniture units being specially designed for each collection.
Those in steel, for instance, are laser-cut to a fine finish. What La Sorogeeka does is combine technology with Indian skill sets so the hundreds of craftspersons and carpenters who are on its rolls work together on designs that have been interpreted to her themes that range from the Mediterranean to the British.
Epoxied sheets hold within them rock crystal, or amethyst, to complete her couture look. "I'm tired," says Goel, "of the predictable."
Predictable she certainly isn't, and now that geographical and thematic styling has exhausted itself (while, kind of), she's decided to take on herself the mantle of devising the ultimate Indian design theme.
"Luxury is not new to India," she says, "and those youngsters who have money would love to have a contemporary Indian look provided it suits their lifestyles."
At La Sorogeeka, this Indian look reinterpreted as styling for the bar, lounge and bedroom, has a preponderance of silver either as bed legs, or silver metal sofas and chairs, inlays and embossed on to tables and cabinets.
There is a jhoola that functions as a dining table (seating is on bench stools), and silver artifacts complete the look. "We had the maharajas," Goel explains, "we knew how to live well."
Clearly, so must her clients, who need to have lavish bank balances to afford her designs. Since La Sorogeeka does not sell piecemeal, a minimum floor size of 2,000 sq ft ("though it's usually much larger") and a ticket size of Rs 10 lakh as minimal order (though it's usually many multiples of that) is what keeps Goel on her toes and her clients in Goel's Swarovski-encrusted sofas.

First Published: Sat, March 15 2008. 00:00 IST