The brightest colour on the design palate this year has always been an integral part of the Indian design aesthetic. But over the past few years, gold had taken a back seat in home décor. The traditional love of gold seemed to have faded in front of modern metals and subtle décor. It was too glitzy, too over the top for the sleek look of contemporary design. But being bold is back and, this year, the gold rush has begun anew.
“Let’s be honest, Indians love gold,” says Maithili Ahluwalia of Bungalow 8, the Mumbai-based home décor store.
But this year, Ahluwalia says she is stocking her store with gold-accented pieces more than ever before. Usually, metallics pop up during the winter season, adding a warm sheen to the colder months, but they often fade in popularity during the summer months. Not so this year, says Ahluwalia. “It’s strong again this summer. It’s part of the overarching trend of a return to glamour, to the OTT (over the top) look.”
As people move away from the simple minimalism of the past, designers are beginning to experiment with colours, and the front runner is gold.
However, the gold that’s coming into style is not the bright, “rap star gold”, as Ahluwalia puts it. It is a muted gold that pops up as an accent to the overall look. “It’s not really in-your-face gold. It’s a bit of a tarnished gold, a patterned gold, with an old quality to it.”
The key to the look is moderation. Rather than pouring gold into a room, add it in small amounts. Too much gold can turn a refined, sophisticated look into a gaudy, showy mess.
“If it’s a dining room, just the tabletop or the sideboard should be gold,” says Aruna Tara of Mumbai-based International Furniture Brands. “Or opt for gold inlays which are very modern. Too much gold would become too jarring.”
A number of dinnerware collections have cropped up with a gold hint, such as the Midas collection from Elvy. Adding gold plates to the dining room is a simple way to introduce the colour to a room. Other people are using gold-accented wallpaper in geometric shapes to bring the colour to the walls. At Atmosphere, textured upholstery with gold threading has become a popular choice for chairs and throw pillows. Rather than covering the entire couch in gold, the move is to use a few gold pillows, or introduce a bronzed cube, like the one from Apartment 9, to the seating area.
Another easy way to introduce gold into the home is on the base of furniture pieces, such as dining room tables, or the legs of sideboards. Stainless steel has been the metal of choice for some years, but furniture designers are now going gold. Tara explains: “Stainless steel is cold. Gold gives more warmth and glamour.”
If decorators did use gold leafing in the past, they often looked overseas to Italy for expensive pieces that few could introduce into their homes. But Indian designers are reviving interest in traditional gold leafing in the country. The look has added layers of metallic sheen to modern furniture lines, such as those at New Delhi-based Wrap Art and Vikram Goyal’s Viya Home. Both companies use Indian artisans to layer gold leaf on to modern furniture pieces, such as Wrap Art’s art deco-inspired chairs or Viya Home’s Mughal-inspired tables.
“Adding gold striping or gold leaf in a restrained manner on furniture makes the furniture—and the room—look richer and more elegant,” says Laura Holland of Hickory Chair, a US-based furniture company, available at Mon Chateau in Bangalore. “However, it should be used sparingly so that it does not become too baroque. This style fits best in a more formal setting for the living or dining rooms.”
The look has been inspired, in part, by the fashion world. For the past 10 years, the fashion world often opted for silver and white gold as the primary jewellery metal, but chunky gold jewellery has hit the runways again, inspiring decorators to go for the gold in the home as well.