Brush up on your Italian because it looks like the country of great wine and beautiful women now has something else that India loves – great decor !!
Walk into any well-decorated Indian home today and you’re bound to find traces of European influences. Most of these trends come from a country which is otherwise supremely popular for its food – Italy. As of now, they’re not just dominating our dinner tables, are beginning to be found in pretty much every nook and corner of the most stylish homes across India.
WHY ITALIAN ?
Well, the answer isn’t that hard to figure out considering that Italian craftsmanship is world-renowned. It’s no secret that the Italians’ design and aesthetics curve is way ahead of the rest of the world.
The annual Milan Furniture Fair – or the Salone Internazionale del Mobile di Milano, as its locally known – is a trade fair that began in 1961 with a focus solely on Italian furniture brands. Soon, however, it grew to become the largest trade fair of its kind in the world and today it is a much sought-after venue for interior designers across the world. The latest designs for lighting, furniture and any home furnishing you can think of – the ones that gradually end up in luxury homes across the world – all debut in Italy.
Italy has had many a “golden age” of design. From Romanesque and Baroque in the early 11th and 12th century, to the Renaissance and High Renaissance that saw artists like Leonardo Da Vinci and Michaelangelo at the peak of their careers. While the influence of these artists and periods is still evident in design philosophy, Italian design is now entering another golden age – one where modernism and contemporary design are flourishing.
Brands like Minotti, Natuzzi, Erba Italia are increasingly creating modern furniture that is made with traditional craftsmanship but are more in tune with the current penchant for simple, minimalist, yet elegant furniture.
With old classic Italian art in mind and a keen eye turned towards the luxury market, these brands are catering to the customers who want their luxury but do not want the ostentatious feel of old-school furniture.
The ‘Made in Italy’ stamp symbolises superb craftsmanship, says Eleonore Cavalli, director of marketing for Italian furniture brand, Visionnaire and the style-conscious Indian consumer is aware of this. “Some of our creations at Visionnaire have Italian design elements and are inspired by the world of art. These are blended together with a unique combination of precious materials .The end result is a collection that is an amazing work of art!” Eleonore also adds that they see the segment growing even more in India. In addition to providing furniture options, Visionnaire is planning on collaborating with luxury real estate developers to create pre-designed homes that are done up entirely by one brand, saving buyers the trouble of starting to decorate from scratch and matching the elements throughout the house.
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE :
Another reason why Italian brands seem to connect with Indian tastes is because of the variety they offer. From classic, old world styles to casual, earthy Tuscan-inspired home furnishing to the minimalist, modern variety. Whether the desired décor in your home is classical flourishes and carvings or neat, contemporary straight lines, heavy wood work or using modern materials like steel and glass, Italian brands have all these options covered.
Seetu Kohli, director of Ace Maison, a luxury multi-brand furniture store in Delhi that houses some famous Italian names including Fendi Casa and Tonino Lamborghini, says, “Italian luxury brands have chic modern designs and match the design sensibilities of upwardly mobile Indian consumers”. Today’s customer, Kohli believes, knows his or her brands and has a specific vision for their own living space, and often these luxury Italian brands match their requirements for trendy designs in contemporary materials.
Despite there being a massive local market that works to cater to Indian home décor needs, the luxury sector is expanding at an unprecedented pace. And Italian brands are successfully carving their own niche in the luxury décor market.
Parushni Aggarwal, creative director of Studio Creo, a multi-brand furniture store in New Delhi believes that it’s globalisation and a change in consumer behavior that is contributing heavily to the increased demand for luxury furniture in India. “Although Italian designs traditionally cater to a European market, it is not a market that is currently growing. Asia is their best bet and especially India is booming. It is growing into a modern environment. The rising income among the new middle class, besides the traditionally rich and industrial class in India holds a promise that there would be place for every segment of the Italian furniture industry in the Indian marketplace,”Parushini says.
THE ITALIAN AESTHETIC :
For a country that is no stranger to luxury, India has a lot in common with the old world Italian aesthetic that has traces of Baroque and Romanesque influences – think intricately carved furniture, floral patterns, lots of wood tones.
But there is an increasing number of Indian shoppers whose tastes veer towards more compact and modern designs. So there are takers for designs of all sensibilities that come from these Italian brands. Even couture brands like “Versace”, “Fendi” and “Armani” have made forays into home-décor with their fair share of success.
“ Speaking from a design point of view, Italian design is well accepted among the Indian consumers from an aesthetic, operational and functional standpoint. Straight-line methods, chic designs and minimalist furniture is the order of the day,” adds Parushini.
And its not just Italian furniture that seems to have caught the fancy of the Indian luxury consumer – brands like Alba that provide completely modular kitchens done in Italian style, or Flos that provides innovative lighting and accents, and others that provide niche décor products too are gaining market space.
Clearly Italy’s craft tradition and high standards of industrial production have made an impact on the well-travelled Indian consumer who knows real luxury. And to this Italian invasion of India’s décor market we say – Benvenuto !!