Tucked away in the backstreets of Mumbai’s elite SoBo area is the pretty little village of Khotachi Wadi in Girgaum, a vestibule of colonial heritage, filled with Indo-Portuguese architecture and a handful of descendants of the original occupants. – the Christians who were the first settlers in Mumbai. With the advent of modernization, only 27 of its original 65 bungalows remain, but currently all eyes are on one address: 47-A, where a brand new gallery has just opened at audience. Led by Srila Chatterjee, the founder of Baro Market and Chatterjee & Lal, a big name in Mumbai’s art circles, the new space is India’s first gallery dedicated exclusively to design.
When Baro Market does something new, you can’t help but notice it, so we were thrilled to see the teasers on Instagram and reached out to Chatterjee to find out more. “The gallery comprises a number of discrete spaces spread across a converted 19th century house, built in the Portuguese colonial style. Khotachi Wadi has a rich cultural heritage that spans arts, especially music and fine arts. With regular programming and a strong curatorial focus, the gallery will provide a window into a wide variety of design practices active in India, both contemporary and historical. It will showcase both well-known designers and those worth discovering,” says Chatterjee.
It opened earlier this month with its first exhibit, aptly titled “OPEN AT 47-A.” This incorporates material chosen by Baro Market and Chatterjee & Lal respectively, to shed light on the type of programs each of the founders will host in the future, and establish areas of focus to cultivate dedicated audiences. The website describes the exhibition’s curatorial strategy ––“a shared belief that design, particularly in the Indian context, should engage with audiences as broadly as possible. The opening show is a presentation of our intent, a sort of mission statement and examples of the type of work we will be engaged in – design history and contemporary design.
The gallery owners plan to host a series of exhibitions, each lasting around a month, and each presented by one of the partners working with a variety of curators. The display will consist of a combination of historical material used for referencing and items for sale to the public.
The founders’ design background inspired the direction this space is about to take. Srila Chatterjee describes Baro Market as “a bazaar of some of the finest and most original handicrafts in all sorts of categories that would come straight from the people who made them, telling their stories and weaving the magic of what they have made, and making available at reasonable prices for people to truly cherish and enjoy. Chatterjee & Lal Gallery has always focused on the work of emerging and mid-career artists. More recently, they have added historical material to the body of knowledge on the histories of 20th century art and design.Through 47-A Design, the team pursues a common goal of strengthening the design space in India while preserving its historical context. Having established its intent and captured the attention of a discerning crowd, it promises to be a space to watch.