Textile revivalist Darshan Shah’s tastefully done abode is a beautiful mix of stunning Indian art, cheerful laughter and a whole lot of fond memories.
This textile doyen likes to let her work do the talking. So, if you ever catch her in some soiree, easing up with a flute and banter, do chip in the salutations. For, we assure you that even before you can say ‘good’ the next morning, she would have gone back to her studio to pore over some heritage weave for her next project. Surrounded by rustling fabrics, textiles, saris and apparels in her waking hours, Darshan is a busy weave minstrel in her work space. That’s why her home is such a peaceful surprise. The owner of popular Weaver’s Studio in Kolkata was sure that she wanted a change when she headed to her nest at tony Queen’s park every evening. The apartment is a serene station to unwind in. It’s clean, subtle and contemporary with a fuss-free air about it. And that’s how Darshan loves it.
This is Darshan ad verbatim describing the décor of her home, “Earlier we had a very Fab India look here. Rustic tones and earthy touches were evident in all corners. A few years back when we were redoing the place, Radhika, my daughter, decided we incorporate the Good Earth look. So, we retained the traditional setting but gave it a more contemporary twist. To offset the beiges, ekrus and whites we threw in purples, pinks and fuchsia, and a lot of florals through cushions. Paresh Maity, who is a dear friend, walked in one day, noticed the colours in the living room and decided he wanted to paint something for the main wall.”
A few days later the acclaimed artist came back with a large canvas that amalgamated purple, silver, white and beige brilliantly. Darshan was ecstatic with the gift, simply because the art brought the space to life. “He used the silver hues that he has imported from Japan. Co-incidentally a lot of Weaver’s Studio creations are exported to Japan, too.”
Darshan has been working with the best of heritage and national weaves and textiles ever since she set up Weaver’s Studio label 19 years ago. “We use as many hands as possible to make handcrafted textiles which have gone through an intensive and extensive process from the time the cotton is picked, cleaned, combed, spun, reeled, drummed, warped, wefted and then woven. After that there are value additions with printing, dyeing as well as embroidery. Our clothes are handcrafted and hence luxurious.” Like her elegant clothes, Darshan’s house too, is fuss-free. “There’s no point cramming things up. It will only amount to accumulation of dust and will involve high maintenance. I like it clean over here. After a hard day’s work, I want to come back to a place where I can put on my favourite music and calm myself down.”
Extremely proud of the treasure trove of art in the country, Darshan has been collecting stunning works by Raza, Ganesh Pyne, Ganesh Haloi, Sunil Das, Satish Gupta, Vaikuntham, Maya Burman and Chitrabhanu Majumdar. Of course, there are creations by her dear friends, Paresh Maity, Jayshree Burman and Narayan Chandra Sinha, that give the space its own character and colour. “We in India, have such beautiful art that there is no need to look outside. There are great artists and the indigenous handiwork are marvelous. For instance, once Jayshree, Paresh and I had gone to Rajasthan and noticed an old haveli was being pulled own. We retrieved 30 dilapidated but breathtaking glass paintings from there. Jayshree took 15 and I took the rest. I got them restored and hung them in my bedroom.” Another heritage jamdani textile restored by Darshan’s guru, Bangladeshi textile artist Ruby Ghaznavi has been hung in her bedroom. “The textile was beautiful and it was further value-added by Anamika Khanna, who is a dear friend.”
While she has collected a plethora of sculptures that adorn her workspace, she has kept the best of the paintings for her home. Two black and white horses by Sunil Das are interesting and the Vaikuntham canvas in Radhika’s bedroom is eyecatchng. Then there’s a Jayshree Burman sculpture from her last collection and a Narayan Chandra Sinha Ganpati sculpture that was a gift from the artist himself. “I put up this large vertical painting of Jayshree’s near the staircase as the work is extremely intricate. Called The Divine Family, it’s a spectacular creation.”
The house proud designer is known to host quaint musical soirees at her abode, where friends gather over great home food, adda and classical music. “Singers, artists and creative people, come and relax over here. There is a thread of informality that they adore.” The terrace, converted into a lush landscaped garden, can host about 80 people during such parties. A casual den done up with the hues of ivory and indigo is a cosy nook. “It’s breezy, green and splendid when we have the soirees here,” says Darshan.
Just as an afterthought she adds, “This house infuses positive energy in me. More so because I lived here with my father and he taught me to enjoy life every single day. I have wonderful memories of those years. Radhika, too, got married from this home. I cherish these fond memories.”
Photos: Suvashis Mullick