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The Changing Winds of Furniture Design Trends in India

For centuries, the common people of India did not believe much in furniture. We sat and slept on the floor, stored our things in simple shelves or in boxes, and ate on the floor as well. Furniture, especially wooden furniture, was largely the domain of the elite.

India has certainly come a long way in the past several decades! Since before independence, India has been a world hub for woodwork and crafted wooden furniture. Here are a few of the iconic trends that have defined Indian furniture in the decades post-independence.

  • The 1950s - Wickerwork Chairs

Wicker furniture was all the rage in the 1950s and maintained its popularity well into the late 1970s. You could spot wicker chairs in Indian homes, gymkhanas, cafés and libraries around the country – indeed, in some of the older establishment, the quality furniture is still to be seen. Skilled woodworkers and rattan weavers dished out complex weaves and designs to make furniture that would become synonymous with the times. 

  • The 1960s - Carved Wooden Chests

Old grandmas and their intricately carved wooden chests have been an object of intrigue for Indian kids growing up, over the decades! Although the tradition of giving a new bride a chest to keep her valuables was prevalent in India well before independence, they made a resurgence in the 1960s. These wooden boxes were carved out of a range of Indian woods, from sandalwood in the south to walnut wood in the north. 

  • The 1970s - Padouk Anglo-Indian Footstools 

Indian homes in the 1970s were increasingly becoming spaces that welcomed literature and importance was being given to comfortable seating, especially while reading. Anglo-Indian footstools had already been common pre-independence in Anglo-Indian and Portuguese homes. The stools gained rapid popularity throughout the country in the ’70s after they were featured in the mainstream cinema!

  • The 1980s - Anglo-Indian Plant Stands

These tiny plant stands were commonly spotted in Indian homes throughout the 1980s and remain priced relics of a bygone era. The Anglo-Indian style of wood-crafting was characterised by extremely fine detailing and the addition of metallic motifs. These hand-crafted stands were used not only for placing vases but also for small ornaments or books. 

  • The 1990s - Wooden Swings 

Wooden swings have been a part of South Indian homes for centuries, especially Chettinadu homes with open courtyards in the middle of the house. The 1990s saw the wooden swing being accepted by the rest of the country and even metropolitan city homes, like Mumbai. Adding a finely polished teakwood swing to the home became quite the symbol of wealth.

  • The 2000s - International Interiors & Upcycling 

The turn of the century saw Indians embracing international trends and making homes more contemporary. Today, Indian homes are all about a chic modern look with statement wooden pieces borrowed from Scandinavian, Bohemian or Japanese styles. Another trend which is gripping the nation is upcycling. You can also spot old wood-carving techniques making a come-back in new avatars in the form of chests, stools, tables, etc.

  • The 2010s - Natural wooden textures

Wooden furniture in the 2010s is all about bringing out the natural textures, shapes and hues of the wood. Woodworkers are crafting and shaping large pieces of wood to make everything you need for your home décor from counters, display units, tables and chairs to headrests. These statement pieces have made their way into contemporary Indian homes and are defining the country’s interior design inclinations as we enter a new decade.