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The Ancient Madurai Studio

The Ancient Madurai Studio

It was a part of the launch team of Ancient Madurai when they launched their company and started its online presence. When they were about to get a physical space, the owner of the brand Hema Natesan asked me to help her with it.

A home decor store in Madurai

I completed this project In March of 2022 after almost a year of planning. This is the Ancient Madurai studio in Madurai. It’s an old house with interesting terrazzo floors and wooden doors and windows. It’s the perfect space for a store like Ancient Madurai. 

All of the initial planning was done online, either on WhatsApp calls or Google Meet. The store sells products native to Madurai city, vintage and antique finds a lot of brass, handicrafts, and handmade products made in Madurai. As the name suggests Ancient Madurai the entire theme of this place is built on the ancient city.

The Concept!

Because of the nature of the products I decided to not go for modern kind of furniture. I wanted to do more wooden, metal, and furniture that had more character. I collected most of the furniture in Bangalore over an extended period. And sent a truck before I made plans to go there. I traveled to Madurai for the final setting up and styling.  The entire process of finding affordable solid wood furniture on a budget took some time. But looking at the result, I am very happy with how everything turned out. And having the pleasure of working with that furniture, traveling to Madurai, was totally worth the trip. 

A lot of the furniture pieces came from Meenu Kanolkar, who has a furniture studio in Bangalore. She deals with vintage and antique furniture. A lot of the vintage solid wood furniture in my home is also from Meenu. I’ll make a separate post on all of that soon, but first, let me take you through the studio step-by-step. 

Since the theme of the store is Madhurai I wanted to bring the most famous element of Madurai, into the store the Meenakshi Amman temple. I found a book that had an abstract temple gopuram on it and I used that as inspiration to create the painted mural on the main wall, which I painted with my own pretty hands. (Fun fact: I was so engrossed into painting the mural that I did not pay attention to hydration and got terribly dehydrated. Out of the two days I kept aside for site seeing, spent one day in the hotel room recovering!)

I found a few old school bench wooden planks in Bamboo bazaar, which were 12 inch wide and six feet long. Perfect for making sleeves.  And 6 inches wide is all we needed to display brass decoratives. So I bought all of those and we cut them in half to make sleek shelves for the studio. To put the shelves up, we have used regular metal brackets that are available in any hardware store. I used a track with 3 focus lights to add more focus to the mural wall and the shelf along the mural. The warm light makes the brass artifacts shine. 

White walls make the best background for Indian vintage and antique furniture, so I decided to keep most of the walls white. I picked the mural color from the Ancient Madurai logo. Then I used the same color to add some swirl clouds in two places to give it a little visual interest. 

I used an old window jaali to display hanging lamps and bells. We simply suspended it from the ceiling with heavy anchor bolts and chains. It looks good on its own and looks great with the hanging lamps. If I was doing this in Bangalore, I would have spray painted the chains in antique gold. 

The throw and lumbar cushion covers were made from a traditional Madurai cotton saree. And the curtain with the Tanjavur doll block print is a best seller from MNR Decor

Two other DIYs that I really enjoyed making are the abstract art to go inside the prabhavalis and the canvas board to highlight a particular product. 

The rug is a block-printed indigo one. 

For the rest of the store, I used their products to style each corner. It was the most satisfying experience coz I got to shop in the store and style it there.

The Conclusion!

In all the years that I have spent exploring home decor stores and working in the home decor industry, I am finding that stores and studios run by individuals is disappearing slowly. The rising costs of real estate, people, and just everything about starting and running a store is a huge task in itself. I strongly feel that when one starts a passion project by investing themselves in it, patrons and lovers of the craft should wholeheartedly support to keep that going. And today, there are so many things one can do to support a small studio. Small acts like sharing links with someone who may find it interesting, sharing social media posts on stories, and expressing how you feel about a certain product in post comments, can go a long way. 

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