Understanding Art Deco

7 June, 2013
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Resham Bhavan

Boundary: Resham Bhavan
Church Gate Street (presently Veer Nariman Road).

With the emergence of residential and commercial buildings in the Art Deco style in Bombay in the 1930s and 1940s, the practices of naming them took a curious turn.

The well established formula for naming– a cosmopolitan mix of a native proper name (Bandukwala) with a word in English that suggests a type of structure (Building) was revised to a local mix of a native proper/ name (Resham, Kapoor) with a native name that suggests a type of structure (Bhavan, Mahal).
Here, the name Resham (silk), was chosen since the building was owned by and housed the offices of the Synthetic & Art Silk Mills’ Research Association (Sasmira).

Boundary walls like these, designed in the style of the structures they surround, have recently been demolished in the Art Deco precinct of Marine Drive.

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Hey big spenders

3 June, 2013
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David Sassoon Library and Reading Room (1870)

Façade: David Sassoon Library & Reading Room
(1870) Esplanade Road (presently Mahatma Gandhi Road).

David Sassoon was the foremost Jewish sethia in 19th century Bombay. The term sethia refers to the class of merchant princes who were among the most powerful citizens. Their wealth, acquired through trade, was spent on public philanthropy and institutions as well as on maintaining lifestyles often befitting a prince.

Bombay’s leading sethias were a cosmopolitan mix – Sir Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy (1st Baronet), a Parsi, Jugonnath Sunkersett, a Marathi of the Sonar caste, Mahomed Ally Rogay, a Konkani Muslim.

Photograph courtesy Hersh Acharya.

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The Victoria Terminus (VT) celebrates 125 glorious years

31 May, 2013
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Staircases: Victoria Terminus (VT) (1888)
Bori Bunder (presently Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus {CST}, Dadabhai Naoroji Road).

2013 is an important anniversary year for railway structures across the globe. The Victoria Terminus, Bombay’s most iconic landmark, designed by Frederick William Stevens, turned 125.

In another great city, New York, the magnificent Grand Central Terminal celebrates its centennial.

Photographs courtesy Hersh Acharya. Have a look at the glorious gallery of photos above.

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The master bakers of Bombay Presidency

27 May, 2013
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Yazdani Bakery (1953)

Signage: Yazdani Bakery (1953)
Cowasji Patel Street, Fort.

Not only were bakeries amongst the earliest culinary establishments in Bombay, their proprietors were also the first to partake of the technological advancements in the trade. Flour Dressing Machines, Corn Mills, Patent Travelling Ovens, were amongst the equipment used in the city’s steam bakeries.

Bombay’s hotel proprietors on the other hand were slow to introduce culinary gadgets. Civil engineers were occasionally consulted to tackle the nuisance of smoke in their hotel kitchens.

Bombaywalla concedes that the neighbouring Poonawallas are the master bakers of Bombay Presidency.

Again, the photograph is shot by Dj Murty on Kodak 400 ISO film.

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Some fine urban design

24 May, 2013
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Elphinstone Circle (1872)

Façades: Elphinstone Circle (1872)
Fort (presently Horniman Circle).

Elphinstone Circle was the first colonial urban design scheme in Bombay. Previously any design plans for the south of the city had to consider and work around the presence of the Fort settlement; which was a military rather than modern form. Once the Fort walls were demolished in 1864, planners had an open city centre to play with.

Today the Circle hosts the French fashion houses of Hermes and Christian Louboutin, high on design, as on price.

The photograph is shot by Dj Murty on Kodak 400 ISO film.

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