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A 'curiocity'

At Curio City, there is something for everybody. Antique pieces are creatively converted into attractive utility pieces.

Catering to the small but discerning buyer — Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.

THE NAME, at first, captivates you. "Curio City" appears to be an intriguing appellation for a furniture store, until a member explains that the word "curio" has been stretched to mean everything that can be kept in a house.

About two years ago, a 100-year-old house on the bustling Bowring Hospital Road, a stone's throw from the heart of Bangalore, was revamped and it became Curio City. Buying the charming colonial house with a high roof and red oxide flooring was like a "dream come true" for director of the store, Vijay Menon. Or perhaps, it was only the beginning of a still wilder dream.

Curio City is a compelling proof that passion can be turned into profession. An unassuming man, Mr. Menon has a keen eye for antiques, a love for furniture, technical expertise, and an innovative mind. He travels extensively in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Pondicherry scouting for possible buys. A team of skilled artisans, guided by Mr. Menon, refurbish the artefacts procured and send them to the City. They are polished and varnished to look new only on the customer's request.

"There is something here for everybody," says the ebullient retail manager, Chanchu Kurian Joy, as she takes me around the showroom.

Curio City boasts an eclectic assortment to meet the requirements of a range of shoppers. Hence, one finds a wide array of contemporary wrought iron dining sets (which are in vogue), fusion furniture made with a combination of wood and cane, wood and metal, imported rattan and sea grass bedsteads, and cane furnishings that lend a sunny and comfortable look to any room.

Its recently introduced reproductions of colonial sofa sets and tables have evoked an enthusiastic response. However, the uniqueness of Curio City is its "mix and match" collection of antiques converted into utility pieces, which are a result of Mr. Menon's creativity. He has reworked an old chest into a table, a teak doorframe into a bed, a pram into a mobile bar, and a pillar top into the base of a dining table. The variety of the reasonably priced furniture - all under one roof - conducive to economising on petrol and saving visits to furniture shops all over the City, paradoxically makes choosing difficult for customers who tend to endlessly and inconclusively compare and contrast. To add interest and to give the store a fresh, dynamic allure, Ms. Joy rearranges the movables every fortnight.

Curio City also sells bedspreads, carpets, paintings, lampshades, mosaic trays, coasters, and small antique objects. A big cupboard, once used by the Chettinads of Tamil Nadu to store mattresses, has been remodelled into a showcase to display the "Design of the Week".

Curio City specialises in designing interiors for homes, offices, and boutiques. There is a furnished model room in an outhouse to provide the customer with an idea of the options available and the quality of workmanship. The cordial atmosphere in the store promotes a personal customer relationship: "We are not interested in big clientele. We prefer a small crowd, which will return to the store. We want people who come here to feel art, talk about art, and live art," adds Ms. Joy. Ask her about the store's future plans, and her face lights up with excitement. The store plans to open a chain of furniture stores all over India and make Curio City a viable option for the upper middle class, says Ms. Joy.

Curio City can be contacted on 5327177 or


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