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Fairytale furniture

Chitra and Bubli bring together their design sensibilities -- Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy

Chitra and Bubli bring together their design sensibilities -- Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy  

Friends Bubli and Chitra bring back memories from their European travels to create hand-crafted decoupaged furniture that you’re not likely to find in stores anywhere

There’s a lovely pale teal blue chair with a pink flower painted on one corner. I’m pretty sure Goldilocks sat on it in the home of the three bears. There’s a dainty distressed white round table with a delicate wreath of pink flowers. Can I have a pot of steaming hot tea served on it please? There are dragonflies sitting whimsically on a chequered honey-toned wooden cupboard. Do the doors open to a wonderful world beyond?

What you can’t also tell is that a lot of these pieces of furniture are not just hand-painted, but also decoupaged designs skilfully rendered as a painting.

Decoupage is a French form of art where paper cut outs are used to decorate surfaces and later layered with decoupage glue though a rather elaborate process to produce a kind of emblazoned effect, along with paint.

The world of Bli & Chi is filled with other such piquant furniture, inspired by Victorian English and French furniture. The brand Bli & Chi comes from the names of creators Bubli Srikanth and Chitra Viswanathan, who’ve been friends for 22 years and go on two holidays every year together. On their travels to Germany, London, and Paris specially, they were particularly inspired by the furniture they saw, which we otherwise only get to see perhaps on Pintrest here.

Having also worked together as art partner (Chitra) and copywriter (Bubli) in ad agency O&M, and then again on a children’s furniture line, putting their aesthetic sensibilities together wasn’t such a big deal. “Our tastes are so similar…but we do fight a lot,” laughs Bubli.

“Sometimes we instinctively know what works…it’s impulsive. I know what I want to do. Of course we do go wrong too,” admits Chitra. The duo works out of a studio in Bengaluru, where you can visit by appointment, or wait for an exhibition at one of the boutiques in the city.

They mainly use sal, rubberwood, mango wood — all handcrafted by carpenters. Not to miss are the legs on their pieces — very elaborate and beautifully carved. The base colour is then painted on the furniture. “I do try the patterns on the computer first and then start work, drawing, staining the furniture, use paper and paint and begin the layering process, creating collages…” says Chitra.

“The problem is that hand-made work is still not really appreciated in India,” she adds. “People don’t realise that this is art on a piece of furniture.”

There are stools, chairs, magazine stands, book shelves, bedside tables, bar cabinets, benches, dressers, and more in the collection. “But we never customise,” says Chitra pretty clearly. Prices start at Rs. 5,500 for stools and can go up to Rs. 40,000 for a chest of draws.

Check www.facebook.com/bliandchi for more

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 8:11:03 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Fairytale-furniture/article14010110.ece

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