Mukherjee owns three apartments in Kolkata, but lives in a rented at on the topmost floor of a stout, modernist block because he loves the energy of it. “My first apartment was bought by my parents when I was on holiday. I hated it because it was on the ground floor and everyone could see my bedroom.” In its previous avatar, this flat had square rooms, tube lighting, mosaic floors, and white walls. Mukherjee opened everything up to create a owing one-bedroom pad that looks out to a large terrace garden.
The home is a shy contrast to Mukherjee’s accessories-filled stores. It is a functional, charming apartment that on the afternoon of our photo shoot, was filled with the scent of home-cooked Bengali food. Mukherjee’s stamp is firmly on it, but it’s not overpowering. No, there’s no clutter.
Interior design is clearly divided between those who love old things, and those who do not. Mukherjee is one of the former. As he puts it, “I have a peculiar relationship with age—I welcome it.” True to that quirk, the flat appears aged—prematurely, of course. When he moved in two-and-a-half years ago, Mukherjee worked with an interior designer friend to refashion it. The flat is outfitted with beautifully crafted, solid wood furniture sourced from Kolkata’s auction houses and retailers. The large windows bring in plenty of light, making the place conversely, very cozy. There are a few pieces of art—mostly Dhruvi Acharya—and canvases by a Bengali artist nurtured by the Sabyasachi Art Foundation. But mostly, there are objects with personal history, like the dining table that he’s had since his time living in a paying guest accommodation.
As expected, there are yards and yards of special fabrics. The sheers at the windows are khadi saris from Sally Holkar, founder of Women Weaves, an NGO specializing in Maheshwari saris, while the thicker curtains are Bhagalpur cotton, lined with block-printed fabric traditionally worn by widows in Rajasthan. “That’s a print community that I’m working with because they have complicated print forms. I tried making it popular by getting Vidya Balan to wear them in Paa. It’s called Fadak.” One of Mukherjee’s nest accessories is a running-stitch nakshi kantha cushion cover from Chittagong. The sand-coloured piece has a mosque, a cat, and a line in Bangla that roughly translates as: ‘I hope to see Mecca one day’.