Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Go back in time to India

I had the opportunity recently to meet (via Skype) Raj Guram, one of the founders of J&R Guram, makers of fine campaign furniture. Located in India, it is a family run business that is known for making beautiful, hand-crafted, high quality furniture and equipage. Campaign furniture is what the British took along on their military campaigns in Africa and India. The idea was to bring the comforts of home to the field. This required furniture makers to innovate, by producing compact, folding, yet durable and aesthetically pleasing, pieces. An excellent source on this topic, is Nick Brawer's book, British Campaign Furniture: Elegance Under Canvass 1740-1914.

I appreciate campaign furniture for its clever fold-up designs, its portability and the other-world feelings it evokes. To see what I mean, have a look at the site of Sujan Luxury Camps who use Guram pieces on its safaris. 

Here are some of my favorite pieces, along with a few photographs from J&R's website.  If you like what you see, please post to sites like Pinterest. As purely a fan of the company, I would like to help it get some much deserved exposure.

Cawnpore Wheelers Cot

From the company's site:

Campaign furniture which is designed to be ‘folded up’ and carried long distances has been a feature of travelling armies over many centuries. With the expansion of the European colonizers through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the finest European furniture makers competed to design and produce elegant, ingenious and fashionable knock-down furniture for colonial officers and civilians traveling in the colonies.
The administrators and armies of the British Empire in the Indian subcontinent were perhaps the largest consumer of campaign furniture leading to high quality local manufacturing of durable, practical and elegant ‘knock-down’ chairs, tables, desks, bookcases and beds. We have revived this craft using the finest furniture craftsmen and materials to present you with furniture and accessories of a lasting quality which will delight you for a lifetime indoors or outdoors, at home or at your camp.

The Serai Chair

Jeet and Raj Guram are descendants of Raja Bhagmal Jat of the royal house of Bithur, who played a defining role in establishing Cawnpore as a trading town in the early 19th century.

With this ancestry they were predisposed to being connoisseurs of both fine art and elegant living of which Campaign Furniture is a supreme exemplar. As avid conservationists/ revivalists they have painstakingly resourced and revitalised near extinct craft skills to produce and make possible a whole range of customised furniture where each piece is a limited edition work of art.

The Scinde Saloon Chair

Wonderful that a side table is included

“The first axiom for camp is not to do without comfort…. does not make yourself uncomfortable for want of things to which you’re accustomed. That’s the great secret of camp life.”
(Annie Steele – The Complete Indian Housekeeper and Cook 1890)

The Jorhat Camp Table

The Outran Verandah Daybed

The Havelock bed

And now the fun stuff:

The Jaisalmer Wine Cooler

The Jeolikot Safari Bar

For additional postings on British campaign furniture on this blog, see:

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