A sofa with a secret

A Mumbai professional walks in for a Caffé Americano and walks out with a Chanterelle table made in solid walnut and chrome. This is a scene from the recently-opened Ligne Roset store in the country’s financial capital, where spur-of-the-moment purchases are not unusual, and a cafe adds just the right welcoming touch. The Chanterelle table retails at ₹40,000.

The growing appreciation in Indian consumers for international brands has paved the way for a flagship store of B&B Italia and Flos by Scala Home in New Delhi’s Design District. Natuzzi Italia has stores in Mumbai, Pune and Delhi.

Meanwhile, Ligne Roset comes from Burgundy Brand Collective, which has 31 stores across nine Indian cities, and is partner to eight international brands. Mumbai-based founders Samir Gadhok and Avani Raheja zone in on thematic brands with meaningful stories that can weave into India’s emerging consumer narrative. From Japan to Spain and France, they include fine foods, gourmet chocolates, natty shoes and lifestyle trends.

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Ligne Roset, a family-owned 137-year-old fine furniture brand from France is their most recent. It’s also the first time the couple has set up a dedicated furniture store. It all started when Raheja and Gadhok found hurdles in their hunt for furniture for their new home. “In every store, we were asked who our architect was, instead of ‘what are you looking for?’” Responding to the need for shoppers to engage directly with designer brands, they wanted to put the consumer first, giving a warm, interesting and compelling experience with furniture. Their street-level 5,000-sq.ft. showroom exudes that infectious energy and light-hearted ambience typical of Ligne Roset.

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Seating with ‘no bones’

Of course, why Ligne Roset would be the first question. It’s an unconventional choice that Gadhok affirms as culturally apt. “We were interested in cutting across the demographic to cater to consumers aspiring to live a higher quality, higher value lifestyle.” It’s also natural to the Indian way of sitting. The seating typically has ‘no bones’ and are designed as organic modules you can sink or flop into, letting your body connect superfluously.

Ligne Roset’s pieces are all handcrafted in their factories in France, with a fastidious attention to detail. “I swear by all their products. They are a delight to use,” says designer Suleiman Bhanji, who shipped several Ligne Roset pieces after seeing them in Dubai eight years ago — both the Ploum and Prado are part of his home. “My children have done everything possible since we’ve bought them — jumped on them like on a trampoline, slept, played — and not one stitch has come out.” It’s a testimony to Roset’s superior manufacturing processes innovating with foam and upholstery with a focus on form, comfort and durability. Counterfeits in the market will never be a match.

Togo turns 50

In the range of ₹3 lakh to ₹5 lakh for any sofa unit, the buyer is invested in more than just a piece of furniture. Ligne Roset’s enviable roster of designers includes Pierre Paulin who designed furniture for former French president Georges Pompidou’s private apartment at the Élysée Palace. An offshoot of Paulin’s 1971 Pumpkin chair, reintroduced by Ligne Roset in 2008, now has a cult following. While the ensuing style and scale may be different, Samir points out, “Good design is always relevant.”

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The products on display in Burgundy’s Mumbai store — 30% of them — include new designs, while 70% are signature pieces, which include the popular Marechiaro room divider, and a variety of centre and side tables. Propitiously, this very year, the brand is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its classic sofa, Togo. Designed by Michel Ducaroy in 1973, the humanistic and voluptuous Togo is another iconic design way before its time, which the Roset website touts as ‘a loveseat without arms’.

Behind the screen

Many architects and designers aspire for a Togo but there’s no definable Ligne Roset aficionado as far as the Burgundy co-founders are concerned. You could be a design enthusiast, an entrepreneur, a finance executive or a media honcho. “Most people who know the brand, know the product,” says Gadhok. For his wife and co-founder Avani Raheja, who has a fondness for all things Japanese, the commitment to sustainability with the prioritisation of eco-friendly materials mattered.

Cozying up

Prado and Togo start at ₹5 lakh. Nesting tables start at ₹45,000. Ready stock items are available in five working days. A custom order takes 12 to 16 weeks.

Some of their biggest insights came from how Indians love colour and can get fairly bold with their choices. From pinks, blues, greens and yellows, you get a statement piece with dollops of style and comfort. Their ultimate mission is to make branded furniture accessible. Says Gadhok, “We don’t believe luxury needs to be serious. Furniture is an experience.”

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With white-painted brick walls, circular pendant lights, wooden floors and planters, the showroom spawns the ineffable essence of Ligne Roset — where life is playful and luxury means jumping on your sofa without a care in the world.

The writer is a brand strategist with a background in design from SAIC and NID.

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