In 2014, we began a furniture experiment at the Highlight Films office in the commercial hub of Mumbai. It involved handmade furniture in reclaimed and old teak, largely speaking the mid-century modern language. In the course of two years we learnt that visitors were pleasantly surprised by what they found here. It was an easygoing space where one could discover different art forms and out-of-the-box designs, and meet interesting people. Best of all – at prices that made sense.
The experiment has propelled us to the next step. We’ve evolved into a brand that has its own identity but draws on the ideas and inspiration that sparked Highlight Living. This is the genesis of BARO. The vision: a seamless union of aesthetics, ethics and ergonomics.
It is a space for sharpened aesthetics and creative expression, filled with inspiration from near and far. It embodies a philosophy that elevates beauty and design to a predominant position in every aspect of life.
The furniture collection consists mainly of Siddharth Sirohi’s designs, heavily influenced by the timeless mid-century modern movement, with a particular attention to the balance between form and function. The pieces are manufactured locally, using only reclaimed, weathered teak and an entirely natural linseed oil and beeswax polish. The approach is old school, relying on traditional wood joinery methods, but the result is as timeless as it is contemporary.
Apart from original designs, one can also expect to find pieces of vintage furniture, which are painstakingly restored to an exquisite new form. Whether original pieces or restored classics, BARO furniture is a nod to the cherished wabi-sabi aesthetic. The accent is on the essence of a thing, with all its charms and flaws, rather than cosmetic appeal. When an old piece is restored, it is not to hide its natural ageing, but to celebrate it. And when a new piece is modelled, it is keeping in mind the principles of balance and transience.
Noticeably, the furniture at BARO packs in punches of fun with colour. All the paint used on the furniture is Duco and may be changed to order (with the exception of the vintage line). The upholstery is of sundry origin and may be changed on request as well.
A legacy of pioneering work in the film industry, and many passionate conversations about ‘art and the order of things’, led to Highlight Living, the creative collaboration between Srila Chatterjee and Siddharth Sirohi, which evolved into BARO.
From film production design, Bombay-based Siddharth Sirohi followed his heart into making furniture that told a story. Handmade, individually crafted pieces that had the charm of old wood and methods, but with a lightness of touch and contemporary appeal. His approach is holistic, combining form, function and construction.
Sirohi’s aesthetic is highly influenced by the simplicity and classic lines of mid-century modernism. "It's the playfulness in the simplicity. Gentle, angular modulations that are not always apparent at first sight," he says. This hidden but painstaking fine-tuning grants Sirohi’s designs a lightness that belies their size. He believes ‘old school patience’ is the key to good design.
An admirer of the wabi-sabi philosophy of beauty in simplicity, imperfection and authenticity, Sirohi was keen on creating furniture that was environmentally conscious and built to last. With reclaimed teak, he found a way out of his dilemma -- a love of trees as well as of ripe, seasoned wood.
"If it's not comfortable, it's not a chair," says Sirohi, pointing to the primacy of function in his conception of design. “Form and function must cohabit peaceably within every piece.”
Through 25 demanding years as a producer in advertising and film, Srila somehow made time for all her passions, ranging from art to design to dogs. Meeting Siddharth urged her to take her interest in design further. Furniture and lifestyle were a natural extension for Highlight Films, an iconic production house. And so the bustling media office transformed seamlessly into a realm of evocative design, fuelled by Srila’s infectious energy and warm persona.
Srila’s deep interest in art, textiles, colour and travel nicely complements Siddharth’s eclectic designs. The handcrafted furniture at BARO is well matched by the carefully curated art and décor – all sourced thanks to Srila’s unerring eye and wanderlust. She charmingly fronts the store, ensuring that the space is a warm and welcoming surprise for visitors, firing their imagination with possibilities to transform their own living.