Book Review:Indian Interiors, Angelika Taschen and Sunil Sethi





Love India, and fascinated by Indian interiors? Want to take a tour of beautiful Indian homes at your own sweet pace, through villages and towns, stopping to smell the grass, wandering through palaces and mahals? This Taschen book is just what you need. Whether you are in the middle of summer in your country, or braving the monsoon storms, this book will make you want to curl up in a chair and enter a magical journey through India. The book is authored by Sunil Sethi, with photographs by Deidi Von Schaewen.
That India is a land of contrasts is a well-known fact. However, the best way to see how varied India really is, is to step in to the homes of its people. If ever there was a book that banished notions about stereotypical Indian interiors, this is it. 

Excited when my copy arrived in the mail, I first read Indian Interiors or Interieurs de l'Inde (its French title) from the perspective of a non-Indian, feigning ignorance at the little facts that my mind already knew, absorbing myself in the beauty of my country as I looked through it and wondered at the marvel of India's architecture, grandeur, simplicity, ingenuity and creativity in doing up homes. I was blown away!

Starting with the postmodern Indian residence of Lekha
and Ranjan Poddar in Delhi, traversing through homes built with love and hope in Ladakh, palaces and Mahals in Jaipur, havelis in Jodhpur, mud houses in Jaisalmer, nomadic huts in Kutch, Gandhi's ashram, the East Indian legacy in Bombay,Portugese-influenced Goan homes, typical Kerala homes, Auroville in Pondicherry and finally the painted huts in Orissa, I absolutely loved the India tour.
I was pleasantly surprised that the book included huts, village homes and nomadic dwellings to bring out the true picture of Indian home design.  

I reread the book, this time with my desi know-it-all attitude, and I was surprised again; that it took a Taschen book to show me how beautiful our village homes really are, at the keen inherent design sense of my people, of the colors they resorted to, and the unique styles, as unique as the cultures they belonged to. I was even more delighted to see pictures of kitchens (I simply love to look at kitchens!) of most of the featured homes. Neat, color-coded, patterned with designs in chalk, or simply functional, the kitchens provide rare insights into the lifestyles of its owners.

The book is multilingual in English, German and French.

What I loved in the book - The fact that it is picture-heavy with long,detailed explanations of pictures, just the way I like a design book to be.

What I wish the book had included - A section on Karnataka homes. My home state and a few other important destinations were sorely neglected. (sigh) How complete it would have been with pictures of typical Bhatkali homes, river dwellings in Kundapur, Mangalorean Catholic homes, the Jain dwelllings in South Kanara, the Gowd Saraswath Brahmin courtyard homes...well, I guess that's something I can remedy, perhaps Taschen would be interested in signing me on? ;)

The Key Bunch Verdict: 

A rare book idea, a collector's item. Will look great on any coffee table. Brilliant photographs. How ingenious to include smaller village and valley homes alongside palaces!

I have given this book 4 stars because it has beautifully brought out stunning images of Indian homes across the country. However, one star has been taken away because with such an ambitious attempt, if only they had gone a step further to cover homes in the tea estates of Assam,the beautiful Warli wall art in Maharashtra, the hills of Chattisgarh, and of course my homestate Karnataka, it would have been truly complete. I know I am probably being unfair, but I like to tell it like I feel it!

Some of the pictures from the book follow.Taschen allows only 3 pictures per review so I could include just 3 pics, sadly only one of which is of a village home, and not particularly a favorite of mine. But it will have to do... and this is all the more reason for my readers to buy the book, because believe me, the village kitchens are a must-see, so much of inspiration there!




Art deco style in the Jodhpur Palace done by Polish artist Stefan Norblin

The Durbar Hall or throne room of the Dungarpur rulers is decorated
with frescoes of hunting seasons.


The inside of an old haveli


All photos are courtesy Taschen Publications, and cannot be distributed or reproduced without written consent from them.
Taschen, Dr. Angelika (Editor)
Sethi, Sunil / Schaewen, Deidi von
Hardcover, 24 x 31.6 cm (9.4 x 12.4 in.), 280 pages
£ 12.99
ISBN: 978-3-8365-0995-4
Multilingual Edition: English, French, German

Buy at Amazon - there is a sale on now!

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