A little ahead of the urban chaos of Lado Sarai village and closer to the medieval cities of Mehrauli and Lalkot lies Gauri & Nainika Home. With the Qutab Minar looming in the distance, the antiquities of the past form the perfect ambience for the store that seems to be inspired by the history of architecture from around the world. It’s too early in the morning for the store to be abuzz with activity, but the lull forms a perfect time to walk around and assess the home decor line.
Racks containing the fashion designer duo’s couture collection stand amidst pairs of porter chairs and trestle tables. Gauri and Nainika’s flagship store offers a blend of fashion, luxury home decor accessories and furniture. At times, drapes and cuts of the garments, inspired by the Amalfi coast, draw your attention more than the furniture on offer. Pradeep Sachdeva too moves towards the couture collection as soon as he enters the store. “Construction of these clothes is very theatrical, just like architecture,” he says. Founder of Pradeep Sachdeva Design Associates, a Delhi-based design studio that offers services such as architecture, urban design, landscaping and interior design, he is known for projects such as Dilli Haat and Garden of Five Senses in Delhi, Taj Usha Kiran Palace Gwalior, the spa at ITC Mughal Agra, and Samode Palace and Samode Haveli in Jaipur.
Gauri and Nainika
Baroque and Gothic dominate the store which spans 4,000 sq ft over two floors. The walls are lined with black-and-white photographs, courtesy Tasveer for Art Photography. Yet another collaboration is evident in the tripod lights and bespoke lamps that have been created in association with Klove. Stepped hurricane lamps (the small one is priced at ~6,500, the large one at ~9,995) rest on a table next to a navy blue sofa with a lining of golden embellishments running at the edges. A giant, upturned wine glass chandelier is one of the most striking pieces on display.
As we walk down the spiral staircase to the floor below, a softly-lit, exposed brick wall comes into sight. “This is quite contextual to a setting in Lado Sarai village,” says Sachdeva. A white poster bed, oak dining chairs in grain-sack jute, a chic French armoire and a brown leather sofa are arranged artistically on this floor. “The armoire is well made but needs a stopper,” says Sachdeva. An arresting Venetian mirror gleams back from behind the poster bed. “We have used mirrors like these at Samode,” says Sachdeva. He tests the comfort level of the lush brown leather sofa that is priced at ~4,50,000. “It is well made and well finished. I can see that the designers’ fashion sensibility is very European and it is reflected in the furniture,” he says. Priyanka, the store manager, informs that buyers are offered customisation in terms of fabrics and hues.
Most of these pieces have been curated from across the world — things that Gauri and Nainika might have seen during their travels. It’s a bit like how Sachdeva picks up home decor pieces. “I am not a collector but I pick up things — paintings, botanical prints — when I travel,” he says. He acquires pieces that reflect the local craft. “For instance, baskets from Nagaland, ikat prints from Pochanpalli and wood carvings from Kashmir,” he says. But instead of buying things for their aesthetic value, Sachdeva opts for those that can be used.
We return to the main floor of the store and Sachdeva tests some more pieces of furniture for their comfort level. The porter chairs (~250,000 each) look particularly interesting. “They are a reinvention of the hood of a rickshaw,” says Sachdeva, but he pronounces them uncomfortable a few minutes after sitting on them. “They are too high and there is no rest for the back,” he says. After walking around and observing the pieces closely, Sachdeva pronounces the home decor line as eclectic, elegant but a tad expensive.
“The space you inhabit is an extension of yourself,” Nainika Karan had said in a recent interview. It is with this thought that Gauri and Nainika have extended their fashion line to home decor as well. They are not the first designers to do so. JJ Valaya had launched The Home of the Traveler last year that offered curated furniture and home decor items. There is news of it shutting down, however, due to a tepid response. Valaya has now started Valaya Home that does designs — furniture, flooring, walls and wall installations, soft furnishings and the signature Valaya tapestries — for large projects, including residences, hotels and other bespoke assignments. Others who are doing similar projects are Rohit Bal, Tarun Tahiliani, Raghavendra Rathore and Abu-Sandeep.
However, not all have opened dedicated home decor stores like Gauri and Nainika. 2015 marks the designer duo’s decade-long association with fashion and this was the perfect time to extend their brand to luxury home decor. “Just like our fashion, our furniture line is also very Western, classic and timeless,” says Nainika. The pieces have been curated from across the world and have been inspired by their travels to Europe. “We love the history of fashion and architecture. So we have taken classical designs such as porter chairs, Chesterfields and trestle tables and created our take on them with leathers and velvets,” says Nainika.