Marwar India, Mar - Apr, 2014

THE BYGONE ERA OF MAHARAJAS, nawabs and nizams was witness to Indian royalty's fabled romance with luxury. From the late 18`'' century, the rulers of the many princely states that dotted the country became leading patrons of luxury houses in London and Paris, commissioning the finest European workshops and the latest works of their artists and designers. They were constantly on the move, travelling around the world, and as was the vogue then, trunks were among their preferred luggage. But as with the rest of their trappings, these too bore the distinguishing marks of regalia; they were stately and signified power and prestige. 

Times have changed since and so have the choice of one's travel gear. But truly, these age-old trunks that once were symbols of authority, affluence and elegance, continue to hold their quaint, timeless appeal. 

Antiquarian inspirations 
The rich, colorful culture of Jaipur has never ceased to intrigue me and my elder brother, Priyank Mehta. The charms of the once royal realm in fact are still so overwhelmingly inspiring that a few years ago it led to the creation of a company by us that hoped to live up to its matchless grandeur, together with Livio Delesgues, a designer from Paris.

“My upbringing has been influenced by narrations of the resplendence of the erstwhile royals of Marwar and how they were paragons of heritage, art and culture, going to great lengths to treasure and preserve them. 

With immense conviction, we focused our strengths, energies and sensibilities to the art of trunk-making which led to the foundation of Trunks Company. Its raison d'être was to transform trunks from being mere travel accessories to statement pieces that were fit for the elite. 

So together with our decade-old expertise in leather craft and Delesgues' French design sensibilities, we started handcrafting trunks at our atelier in Jaipur. Our collective efforts saw to the creation of handcrafted trunks that were an amalgam of ingenious design and old-world craftsmanship. Quintessentially urban in functionality—they were customized to treasure choice possessions—the bespoke luxury pieces reflected heritage while exuding rare, contemporary class. They led to the evolution of trunks into a compeer of aesthetic concepts, intended for storage and transportation of jewelry, watches and accessories, or open up as vanity cases, wardrobes, bars, entertainment appurtenances, to name a few. So much so that Trunks Company is now being recognized as a brand of choice to rekindle the romance of the days gone by.

Rooted in heritage

Being a Marwari, my upbringing has been influenced by narrations of the resplendence of the erstwhile royals of Marwar and how they were paragons of heritage, art and culture, going to great lengths to treasure and preserve them. The gifted craftsmen and artists of the region and their talents as such have long been revered and have found mention in the history and folklore of Jaipur. It's much the same at Trunks Company. The atelier lends substantiation to a timeless, subtle feel of the city. Our craftsmen can be pictured as once being engaged by the royals—so detailed and precise is their craftsmanship. The royal inspiration does not end there. Be it the lavishness of the leather or suede used, the wide assortment of colors offered or customized offerings to suit specific purposes, they derive their roots from Jaipur, exuding its old-world aura. It even shows in our monogram which draws from the ubiquitous jaali motif of Marwari architecture. 

One of our recent endeavors has been to acquire knowledge about the artistic and technical aspects of Jaipur's famed jewelry, so as to be able to craft special trunks for them. Since Jaipur's jewelry is widely recognized for its finesse and artistry, handcrafting trunks for them has presented itself as an exciting prospect—which, of course, is in keeping with our efforts to evolve continuously, satiate our creativity and achieve our goals. Here again the subtle correlation with Jaipur is evident in the gold-plated hardware and the detailed monogrammed silver knobs. And since our objective is to revive fond memories in the minds of clients, the process focuses on personal elements all through. Our trained craftsmen etch out fine personalized pieces consequently, based on our research of the client's lifestyle, profession, modes of travel, destinations, events and passions. Working closely with clients, we try to ensure that the finished trunk is exactly as was envisioned, even though it may cost us 400 man-hours what with each trunk being embedded with about 2,000 pieces of nails and hardware. In short, each trunk reflects the subtle aspects of the possessor's personality and has its own story to tell. 

A conscientious approach

Since quality raw materials are one of the basics of our trunks, we ensure they are stringently procured from the world's finest sources. Each piece is crafted with finest quality leather and suede interiors, brass hardware and directional lock casters. Each nail is integrated with singular focus and discretion, and to take personalization a notch higher, a client's initials or crest is engraved on brass panels. It's our pride and honor to have been able to create some very distinctive trunks to store belongings as diverse as rifles and swords to turbans, shoes and exquisite pieces of jewelry. Some even bear intricate royal crests! Needless then to say our trunks enjoy royal patronage, and in that, they echo the lost royal grandeur of yore. The Marwari community which comprises a fair measure of the uncrowned maharajas of today too has celebrated Trunks Company since its inception and continues to be a part of our esteemed clientele. 

Each trunk, each client and each day brings forth a fascinating challenge that makes us delve deeper into our aesthetic sensibilities and offer something refreshingly different. Each trunk is crafted like a piece of art and is idiosyncratic in the story it unfurls. And in that it offers a welcome departure from the monotonous, stimulating our creativity, reinvigorating our passion and conviction in our craft and rewriting the saga of India's lost love of luxury. *