These days, you will find furniture pieces from different eras and in myriad styles coexisting wondrously together within the Coomaraswamy Hall, at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), Mumbai. As soon as you enter, an eclectic selection of Gothic bookcases, exquisite screens and art deco dining tables, among others, will catch your eye, with each vying for your attention.
This collection of finely-restored furniture and artefacts has been put together as part of the ongoing exhibition and sale by the House of Mahendra Doshi –- purveyors of fine antiques, period furniture, quality reproductions and collectibles since 1974. “Anand Gandhi, Asim Doshi and I thought of bringing together furniture from the three eras that Mumbai has experienced – Raj, Dutch Colonial, Goan and Portuguese,” says Chiki Doshi, who is part of the trio that helms the House of Mahendra Doshi. “We have a bit of art deco, which became really popular in the 1940s. Then there are pieces from the mid-century American furniture that came to Mumbai in the 1970s.”
The entire show offers a journey through time, taking you through various movements. It also gives you the freedom to flit between time periods, mixing-and-matching between art deco and colonial or between Chippendale and vintage American furniture. The idea is also to burst several myths, one of those being that if your house is built on colonial lines, the furniture also needs to be colonial. “Your house could be modern, but you could have contemporary pieces juxtaposed with art deco ones,” he says. The idea is to tell a story through your furniture, and this exhibition allows you to do just that.
Among some of the significant pieces that the team has restored is this beautiful Gothic bookcase, which must be around 80 to 90 years old and is 9 feet in height. You would see something like that at iconic institutions such as the University of Mumbai. This bookcase had been in the collection of Mahendra Doshi for many years and the team had been thinking about getting it restored.
“People had painted on it, got it re-polished. That actually worked out well for us as it protected the wood from inside. The wood is a fabulous old Burma teak and it was an absolute pleasure restoring it,” says Doshi. Another interesting piece is this exquisite art deco dressing table from 1945 and also a club chair from mid-century modern era. “It’s from the ‘60s- ‘70s, when kulfi legs with brass caps were in vogue,” he says. And don’t miss out on this rosewood screen with cane work – akin to an intricate spider web — on the two flaps in the middle. “It took us two-and-a-half months to redo the cane work. It’s an excellent example of a British colonial screen,” he says.
The exhibition and sale of finely-restored furniture and artefacts from the House of Mahendra Doshi will be open to public at the Coomaraswamy Hall, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai, till December 11.