For fanciers of the exotic, Raj is the rage


As recently as a decade ago, those of us who fancied exotic home furnishings could find few convenient places to satisfy our yen. Today, however, it's no longer necessary to fly off to London or Paris in order to scour their flea markets. American tastes have changed so much in recent years that the unusual and outlandish can now readily be discovered.

Interior designers love these pieces. Their eclectic designs and fine detail and craftsmanship are a joy to behold. And it's amazing how smoothly this furniture can be integrated into either a traditional or contemporary Western interior.

In general, the Anglo-Indian style results from an adaptation of the furniture that the colonizers brought with them to India. Indian craftsmen produced distinctive variations on European themes, creating a unique look in the process.

Many early works in this style actually reveal a strong Portuguese influence. That's not surprising, since the Portuguese were the first Europeans to settle in India. And if one travels farther south in the subcontinent, Indo-European furniture also begins to exhibit traces of Dutch design.

Even though these hybrid pieces can work well in today's American interiors, they need to be carefully chosen and properly presented. The freedom of line and the liberal mixing of materials typical of these furnishings may require that an experienced eye be consulted in deciding where they are to be placed in a room. Otherwise, the setting could wind up looking garish rather than exotic.

A carved Anglo-Indian settee or an ornate and over-scaled cabinet needs to be given a fair amount of breathing space in a modern American home. Nearby objects should also be of simpler and more tranquil design.

+ Los Angeles Times Syndicate

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