11. May 2010 · Categories: Marion on a Mission, Market · Tags:

Bangalore’s Furniture Fair happened last weekend. As this year is one without the Salone, I was terribly curious to find out what this event was about. And this, it turned out, was about half of the work…

As I arrive, I see people squeezing big sofas in their small cars and carrying folding aluminium picnic tables under their arms.

After paying the entrance ticket (Rs 40) and refusing to leave my details in the lucky draw box, I made my way into the cool stadium hall… and entered the very special world of Indian furniture.

It is the perfect place if you want to find:

  • large wooden-framed, sculpted sofas with glittering upholstery – note that a swing version of this item is available, but you’d probably need an elephant to carry the frame
  • glass topped coffee tables which allow you to peer through their surface and admire a dancing elephant or a muscular male wearing only a turban and not much else
  • water features
  • fish tanks that glow in the dark
  • decorative plastic swords
  • plastic Diwali lights

and many many more things that you didn’t know existed… it is all very overwhelming.

The furniture on display is mostly imported from Asian countries like Malaysia or Hong Kong. Finding outdoor furniture is difficult in Bangalore and I was surprised to see several modern ranges.

The best slogan on show was “Italian style, Chinese price, proudly Indian”.

And no Indian show would be complete without the vegetable-chopping-widget-demo-stand. There were certainly many of them hidden behind mounds of vegetable peelings – my final memorable sight as I left.

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Besides being a trade fair jet setter, I am also an art junkie. I need regular arty fixes to make sure my emotions, brain and senses connect and function together.

Wherever I travel, I search not only for the big museums but also the small art galleries and events. In Bangalore,  as this is where I reside, I am allowed the luxury of a continued search, looking for and occasionally finding art in this high-tech and fast-moving city. My access point is Time Out Bangalore; I’m yet to find something more edgy. Bangalore is an intensely shiny city but, with determination, art can be found here and there.

Gallery Blue Spade programmed a painting exhibition in January/February featuring a local painter. It’s not far from the small Galleryske, which is more adventurous in its choice of artists compared to the others I’ve seen so far.

On a more classical yet institutionalised front, I think the National Gallery of Modern Art, which  opened recently, is worth a visit. It’s a nice summary of its sister gallery in Delhi and perhaps, if they have more visitors, they might open their cafe on Sundays. Not far away is the Veda Art Gallery, which I’m yet to explore.

Last week I caught the last days of ulm: method and design/ulm: school of design exhibition, held at the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath School. Very refreshing! The exhibition traced the history of the Ulm School, presented as more than just a chronology. The structure of the teaching was clearly explained, there were several models and prototypes on show and a few video interviews of former tutors and students. I felt transported back to my student years in Paris and London; Ulm bears a broad influence in design teaching today. Interestingly this was organised by the Institute for Cultural Relations and the Goethe Institute Bangalore (and I’ve just discovered their wonderful rooftop cafe and good bread!).

At the Gandhi Smriti Memorial in Delhi, I felt like a little girl looking at the life of Gandhi recounted in miniature scenes displayed in delightfully vintage-looking TV-type cabinets. This place has recently opened a number of beautifully made interactive displays. However, I found all the interaction overwhelming. Maybe I’m too old… I don’t know if it was the number of things to play with, a lack of explanations or the keen staff that were very quick to demonstrate how to interact, which killed the discovery factor for me.

Entering the larger museums is like beginning a large, rich meal. I start with enthusiasm but slowly wane and become overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of things to see, read, learn, understand, take in and digest.

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