CW Interiors |
Inspired Home | November 2013

Singing Paeans to India

American popstar Cher´s remodeled penthouse in Los Angeles is a melange of mystical Indian influences.

India´s mysticism, exotic flavours and artistic traditions form the dTcor theme in the home of American popstar Cher. Having graced stages across the world for a major portion of her life, it was natural for the singer to want her pied-a-terre (penthouse) in West Hollywood to reflect not only her life but also her spiritual philosophy, which carries tints of Indian and Buddhist ideologies. So, when she decided to remodel her home in Los Angeles, it had to reflect her enamour with the East and all the decorative trappings that accompany a meditative life!

Cher´s two-floor apartment with an expansive terrace that overlooks Los Angeles city, is an extraordinarily beautiful home. The top floor of the penthouse is occupied by Cher´s expansive boudoir, an almost ´Cleopatra-esque´ bathroom and a seating area; the main floor comprises the living area, a small nook that serves as a guest room and personal TV-watching corner and the kitchen. The Indian fantasy has been created by top designer Martyn Lawrence-Bullard who is based in Los Angeles.

Setting the tone
The artefact that set the tone for the dTcor and the colour palette of the home was a 19th-century ivory painted tablet depicting an Indian deity. This artwork inspired the textured creams, tea-stained browns, ivory, chocolate, ebony, gold, bronze, and touches of rich merlot throughout the home. Complementing this, a heavily carved triple-arch entryway reclaimed from a palace in Rajasthan was used to ground the architecture. It became the backdrop for Cher´s majestic bed, giving the space a magical aura.

The master bedroom is a medley of exotic artefacts from India, Burma and China. A 17th-century statue of a Tibetan monk guards the entrance, which is framed by a 19th-century Indian doorway. The doors are bound in bronze and studded with decorative corbels, while a bleached wood carving of a dancing girl graces the entrance. One side of the entrance showcases a painted vellum panel that is back-lit to flush remarkable lighting into the space.

Of palatial proportions
On entering the bedroom, one encounters three separate spaces that are unified by the warm textures and colours reminiscent of mystical times. The seating area includes a custom-made table, while the sofas covered in corded raw silk are designed by Bullard. Forming a rather charming backdrop is a late-nineteenth century Burmese tapestry woven with pure gold thread. The coffee table is adorned with an eighteenth-century Chinese Quan Yin statue and bronze goddesses. At the back, a carved solid ebony elephant sits on a custom-made faux ivory inlayed plinth.

The main attraction in the bedroom is the gorgeous archway made from lattice-work fragments that leads into Cher´s dressing room. Beautiful Marrakesh lanterns drop down from the ceiling in both the bedroom and dressing area. In line with the ethnic theme, the bedside cabinets, too, are made from a pair of nineteenth-century Indian doors inlayed with ebony and ivory. Hand embroidered bed pillows complete the rustic, yet traditional effect.

The master bathroom, placed behind the bedroom, has as its centrepiece a waterworks tub clad in eighteenth-century stone panels reclaimed from a stairway of a palace in Rajasthan. The cabinets here are custom designed by Bullard, while the chairs are of Syrian origin. The antique stone sink has a Syrian inlayed camel bone mirror above it.

Living it up
The palette of beige, brown and white flows into the living room below; a silk, twill-covered sofa anchors this room. Cushions covered in goat fur, hand-embroidered Indian silks and Indonesian black prints are scattered over the area, while a seventeenth-century Indian terracotta dancing girl sits proudly on the coffee table.

The room is further embellished with painted Indian spice boxes, a coffee table made of Chinese lacquered leather, a sixteenth century Chinese wedding bed fitted with a television, an opium bed that showcases an eighteenth-century Ottoman pillow and a colonial teak tray with elephant handles û verily, this room is an orientalist´s delight! On the other side of the living room is an expansive terrace. Lit up with a couple of outdoor Chinese lanterns, this terrace offers a breathtaking view of the city of Los Angeles.

Indeed, it is the perfect home for Hollywood´s most exotic singing icon!

Text: Shanti Padukone

Martyn Lawrence-Bullard
Why was Indian fantasy chosen as a theme?
Cher wanted a home fit for a maharani or a Turkish princess. When I decorated her place, she had recently become entranced by Buddhism and all the decorative trappings that such a meditative life encompasses; hence, the theme.

What was Cher´s reaction to the completed design?
She adored it!

Globalisation has brought different cultures and ethnicities together. What is India´s contribution to the world of design?
India is a wonderfully rich cultural country filled with skilled artisans practicing age-old techniques that have infiltrated the world of design for the last 500 years. Today, India plays a major role in influencing design trends with its historic Mughal patterns being reinterpreted. Often simplified from the originals, these patterns now feel fresh, yet exotic.

Any projects that you´d like to take up in India?
I would love to design a hotel or a chic restaurant. It would be amazing to work with the local craftspeople and rework their traditional skills into contemporary spaces.

What are your thoughts on Indian architecture?
I am completely awestruck by the magnificence of Mughal architecture. I also love the colonial Art Deco style buildings and villas in Delhi. Some of the more impressive modern structures include the work of , . His vision of bringing modern India into the twenty-first century with boldly scaled structures that pay homage to this country are awe inspiring, as is his philosophy around his architecture.

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