In the first of our series of, ‘Walking Through Design’, we present the beautiful, artistic residence of Dev Dutt, a collector, and connoisseur of all things Indian.
Dev Dutt is a marketing professional based in Chennai for the last one year. Dev is an ardent collector of artistic artifacts from all over his travels. His residence is beautiful and tastefully done up with arts and crafts that he has collected from all over the country – a microcosm of India. In the first story from our series of ‘Walking Through Design’, he spoke to The Tiles of India at length about his passion and personal style. According to him ‘Design is something very personal and reflects the person you are. Collections need not be expensive, but you should love living with them.’
Here is our interview with him…
How did this immense passion for art and decor evolve?
I always loved art and appreciated things of beauty. With my travels around the world and in India, that latent desire got accentuated. I see art in everything – from the mundane to the sublime.
Do you remember your first buy, if you could tell us about it, what, where and the entire story around it?
My first serious (more from the viewpoint of the money spent) buy was from the Jehangir Art Gallery in Mumbai. It was a large canvas by Rishikesh Deshmane – abstract art. I got it delivered (it’s a 6×5 ft canvas. My friends made fun of it (some still do) but I love that piece. I walked into the gallery and I knew I had to have it. The money bit came later.
You seem to have a lot of understanding and interest in history, can you tell us what intrigues or fascinates you about it?
History shows us a mirror to the past. What fascinates me is the kind of lives people led – the clothes they wore, the furniture they used, the houses they stayed in, the jewels they wore. I feel I am a voyeur into their lives. History also gives you a sense of evolution and regeneration. Be it fashion or furniture or jewels or houses – it’s a cycle of recreation.
Please share some interesting elements around the decor and art of your residence, and if there are any interesting anecdotes etc?
My dad always used to tell me that I should be one genre ‘collector’ of fine things. Sadly I fall madly in love with different things. I went through a phase of collecting old kilms – and I bought books on them and understood the difference between a Samarkand and an Afghan Yakubi. All my buys have been impulse-driven. Navin Chopra, who has the best kilms and piles in India (I feel) has been my mentor. I saw a beautiful tiger motif carpet at his store in Shapurjat. But someone had bought it.
I wanted one – and I waited for 4 years till Navin got me a gorgeous and rare Samarkand carpet almost 90 years old! I have a few stone heads at home. I bumped into the Natesans store during my trips to Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai. And there, addiction and love and impulse hit me. I scrounged and bought a few old pieces and I am happy that two of them – ahead of Shiva and Bhairavi – are 700 yr old Chola Dynasty heads. I also love buying furniture and proudly own a camphor chest, over a 100-year-old hand-painted sideboard from Singapore (when I used to work there in the recent past), a 1951 Portuguese chest, etc.
We are at this moment experiencing a huge resurgence in the awareness around Indian traditional crafts and designs and our role in sustaining these communities, what are your views on this?
Indian crafts have to be supported. Our crafts add beauty to our homes and more importantly they support the dying crafts of our country. During the lockdown, through my friend Ratnaboli Bose who runs the Daricha Foundation supporting the crafts of Bengal, I have enriched my life and am now a proud owner of some of Bengal’s fascinating crafts forms.
I got a ‘Sherpai’ made – it is a measurement of grains (one seer = 1.25 kg) made from a single piece of mango wood and decorated with intricate brass work on the outside. Sadly only one family in the village does it. I commissioned a ‘Patachitra’ (9.5ftx3ft) by Serauddin Chirtakaar and gave him a brief to create a Patachitra on the corona pandemic. This stunning piece is on display at my home in Kolkata. The stories are fascinating, the art rich and the livelihoods need our support.