What’s behind furniture studio Baro’s eclectic offering...


In conversation with founders Siddharth Sirohi & Srila Chatterjee

At Baro, one can witness the synergy between co-founders Siddharth Sirohi’s (SS) holistic and functional approach towards furniture-making and Srila Chatterjee’s (SC) interest in art, colour and textiles. They met while working on a project helmed by the latter’s production company where Sirohi was the Art Director. Their shared discontent with their then careers led them to agreeing to experiment with furniture that Sirohi would design and Chatterjee would sell. That was in 2014 and they have never looked back:

From an experiment to a full-fledged brand...
SC: We emptied half the Highlight film office and filled it with this furniture and called it “Highlight Living”. At the end of two years, we came to a point where we had to move one way or the other: close it down or get it more organised and bigger in scope. Since we hadn’t put in any money and didn’t owe any, it seemed like a good idea to go forward! That was how Baro was born.

Teak was never an experiment. The furniture Siddharth designed started with teak and we focused on acquiring reclaimed teak both for the quality and because it made sense not to add to the destruction of more forestland.

Our core design philosophy...
SS: The core of my design philosophy follows a few guiding principles. To begin with, it's always function over form. The primacy of function is the underlying tenet in all that I design. Closely linked to that are two concepts that I have termed 'the lightness of being', a wordplay on the Kundera novel and 'playfulness in simplicity'.

The 'lightness of being' is about trying to reduce the visual imprint of anything that we make. To make it visually lighter. The idea comes from creating a sense of lightness within and around us which is the approach followed by all proponents of higher consciousness. This is the furniture equivalent of meditation, as I call it. It manifests itself in the reduced bulk of the furniture, by shedding the excess flab yet maintaining its integral strength.

'Why four legs? when two can suffice...' This invariably adds an exquisite level of detail which is not always apparent at first glance. I also like the notion of discovering something as we spend more time with it, and thereby creating a relationship with it. The concept of animism runs deep within my bones, and extends to all that we make. The furniture is regarded as living and breathing and moving and we even recommend ‘feeding’ it with the linseed oil and beeswax that we send out with it.

Playfulness in simplicity is about creating a sense of play and quirk, when you do things on a whim that brings joy, sometimes, purely because we can. This is what keeps ideas young and alive I think, and adds that unique element to our designs. The simplicity in our approach keeps it all balanced without going overboard.

Industry trends, yay or nay?
SS: Not important at all, I'd like to say. By definition, trends are short-lived. What we try and create is something that is timeless and not affected by the temporal shifts in our lives. We intend for them to withstand the passage of time, pass down through generations, not only in terms of ideas and design but also in the way we construct things - using good old-school patience.

Imbibing the ancient philosophy of wabi-sabi... 
SS: We ask for the serenity to accept things that we cannot change, courage to change things we can, and wisdom to know the difference. It is about a nod and obeisance to the higher power of natural forces and celebrating the passage of time. It is about working along the natural grain of things and not fighting to work against it. It also ends up being more efficient in the long run. Somewhere our choices towards a certain aesthetic are determined by the narratives that run along with it.

By realigning our stories towards the idea of the beauty in imperfection, the pursuit trickles all the way to the relevance of the core matter. Where, for example, the hole-ridden old teak is far superior to the factory cured wood of yesterday. Much like kintsugi ceramics, the wooden butterfly used to hold down cracks in wood truly enhances it with its imperfect history rather than a sterile, perfect look. For me, the notion reduces the strife in our chase towards perfection. It has helped me reconcile the two seemingly opposing forces.

New products imagined...
SS: Our elves are always at play, be it reimagining vintage sideboards or coming up with a new chair. Currently we are developing a head support for our much loved Swing chair while reinterpreting a Bauhaus classic desk chair. Our design philosophy has kept away from the notion of a range, as we feel that although seemingly dissimilar, strong individual stories do always find their way together. 

Upcoming projects and collaborations...
SC: Baro goes beyond furniture into collecting things that conform to our headspace and that go into creating spaces that people can tell stories with. We have carpets, lights, furnishing, linen and original folk art that are not available anywhere else in Bombay and that all come from small designers who do very original work, or are vintage and hand-picked pieces. 

We also use our space for creative collaborations of all kinds. Here is the immediate next we have lined up:

  • Dec 15, 16: A Christmas Bazaar full of Christmas delights largely presented by social enterprises and charities.

A must-have recommendation?
SC : We don’t really subscribe to things people ‘must have’ – except for ensuring that furniture is all ergonomic and works for you. 

Tips to give a room an instant uplift without a complete rehaul...
SC: Colour makes a huge difference – so just changing the colours on your walls changes the feel of the room. Cushions refresh the feel too and are easy to change. Move around the furniture if you can – just new arrangements make a big difference. Get one “statement” lamp and see how much of a difference that makes! 

Discover Baro online and on Instagram.

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