Wacky book shelves and Mongolian cabinets – storage spaces are getting more quirky and interesting, finds Anusha Parthasarathy

Cabinets, shelves, chest-of-drawers, coffee tables, side stands, cutlery stands, bookshelves, mini bars – storage furniture today is no longer just about practicality and price. Whether it is shopping on a furniture website or looking for that quaint little store with out-of-the-box designs, everyone is looking for something that will not just aesthetically enhance their home but also reflect their sensibilities.

Take, for instance, Soumya Kesavan’s furniture boutique, Souk, in Nungambakkam. It offers one-of-a-kind furniture pieces that will appeal to your aesthetic senses and will also often have vintage and antique value. “We are not in the business of mass-produced furniture. We aim to provide one-off pieces that hold a room together. So the customers who come to our store, come looking for something that will not just be practical but aesthetic too,” says Soumya. Souk offers storage options like credenzas, side boards, cabinets, chest of drawers and more. “People want a signature piece that will double up as storage. They like to buy chests to keep on the edge of their beds and store bed spreads, pillow covers, etc. They can also use it as a coffee table on either side of a sofa.”

For children especially, Garima Agarwal of Peek-a-boo Patterns offers furniture that is flexible and functional. “Customers prefer to customise their storage options as spaces in India are not standard and they want to maximise the utility. Our doll houses are cute and sleek despite their storage capacity. They are popular among kids and are used as book shelves or to store toys or dolls,” she says. “Our chest-of-drawers is also very popular among young mothers as it has some elements of drama and a glass front.”

Darshan Mehta of Orange Tree has a list of furniture on offer and adds that storage is a very important part of the furniture business. He sells book shelves, wall shelves, wardrobes, cabinets, sideboards, chest-of-drawers and TV units. “People now want storage with style,” says Darshan. “So that it adds to the beauty of their rooms and also offers the option of storing their stuff.”

Vikram Viswanath, who heads merchandising at Urban Ladder is of a similar opinion. “We have two categories in the storage section – large pieces like crockery tables, chest-of-drawers and smaller ones like book shelves or a corner shelf. Some customers come looking for simple designs and others want clever, quirky ones. Our Honeycomb (an asymmetrical book shelf) and Quote Unquote book shelves are a big hit. Toriad, a chest-of-drawers, has a slit in between, like it was hit by an axe. It looks like something out of Alice-in-wonderland,” says Vikram.

Souk specialises in antiques and furniture with antique finish. “We hand paint our chests unusually so that there is only one of that kind,” says Soumya. “Sometimes, we give our furniture a distressed finish when we re-paint it, to give it that antique look. We have an old Mongolian painted chest that is a twin-shutter cabinet. It’s so unusual, you will never find something like that anywhere else,” she adds.

Garima’s art and sports station are very popular among children. “It is the best product that I have created so far,” she says “Storage for children is a growing market and our designs are simple, flexible, space-saving, built to grow and neutral.”

Orange Tree sells contemporary furniture. “We sell contemporary style furniture with very British influences,” adds Darshan.

At Urban Ladder, there is plenty of choice for customers of every kind. Vikram adds that while most people looking specifically for storage look at practicality, they are open to buying it if it is quirky and fits their purpose too.

“The Quote Unquote shelf offers wall space but looks completely different,” he explains. “We also have wall-mounted shelves and mini bars that don’t leech into the living spaces. I believe versatility is very important now since living spaces are getting smaller.”

Designing for small spaces is a huge trend abroad and is catching up here as well. “If you find something that has storage, helps your function and looks good, then it’s a winner,” says Vikram.

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