I’ve maintained that Goa offers varying experience to its seekers. If some of our early trips were focussed on its beaches, shacks and food, there were work oriented elements on a couple of later visits – one when I went on my own to intern on a web design assignment didn’t allow me even one close look at the sea or beach. That visit helped connect with a group of young professionals but it could have been any small town witnessing frequent spells of shower. Then, a seven day recce of its various beaches and forests dispelled any idea of our understanding of the place. It showed us a variety in its landscapes that intrigued us to the extent of wanting to engage with it deeper. We invested our resources in buying a small place that, in turn, has helped reveal areas that would never have been noticeable to us if it wasn’t for our interest in making our place habitable.
Well, this aspect of Goa has been full of challenges for Delhites like us who’ve been used to multiple options in houseware. Arranging appliances led to much scanning of Panjim, Mapusa, Calangute, Porvorim markets. And, for furniture, we’re still looking.
Most locals have advised hiring carpenters to get furniture made. Several phone calls and some days of verification later, we did manage to get hold of a bunch who built us our kitchen cupboards. That exercise was fraught with anxieties and the cupboards, although usable, were only just about acceptable. So, we’ve found it safer to invest our energies into identifying WYSIWYG furniture! And, because our little place still lacks a wardrobe and a couple more small must-haves, we continue with our search for locally available furniture that fits our sense of aesthetics and pockets. My interest in educating myself, and others, on Goa leads me to share with the world the fruit of our labour this far – details of good and bad places we’ve unearthed so other wannabes have it easier than us:
No rude shocks with Fabindia – their quality and pricing are consistent. Also the fact that one can’t find everything one wants under their roof! But it’s been a huge relief to find its branches offering its known unobtrusive and friendly service in a region where otherwise any purchase leads to much haggling. The range of woodcraft includes futons, beds, benches, chairs, tables in varying sizes and also thoughtful ideas such as photo frames and shelves. The Candolim branch is smaller than the Panjim branch but it has the advantage of an efficient store assistant in the form of Sarfaraz who tries his best to meet his customers’ expectations. In my view, Fabindia rules the homeware shopping options in Goa.
CMM Arena in Merces
This group has multiple branches but the one in Merces is the biggest so gives more choice than any other furniture store. Most of their items however are imported from Malaysia or elsewhere and made of compressed or particle board. I find particle board unsuited to Goa’s moisture laden climate but sometimes aesthetics and availability become more important considerations than practicality. A lady store assistant who interacted with us was most helpful, followed up on our interest and had our Malaysian teakwood bed delivered in a professional manner. It was smooth and comfortable dealing with them.
The Attic in Camarcazana
This place has impressive signboards in places but its wares are old, unpolished and decadent and absolutely phenomenally priced. The place is owned by a brother-sister duo who have respect in Goa’s art circles but at best their furniture collection seemed just wide-ranging than road-side antique dealers but not of better quality to an untrained eye like mine. The prices were so prohibitive that I couldn’t even allow my mind’s eye the pleasure of imagining any items restored and mine.
Origins, Opp Hotel Manoshanti, Panjim
This shop isn’t so well known but I found it mentioned on a british expat website as one providing furniture packages! Looking for it meant walking around Panjim in circles but when we did get to it, we were impressed with some pieces. They were ruggedly finished, solid and almost handsome. But prices were a deterrent and so was the size of most pieces – they seemed too large for an apartment. However, we were comforted by their straightforward cuts and polished look after a lot of so-called still-to-be-restored antique pieces elsewhere.
Soto décor in Candolim
Pointed out to us by Max from the Tanta Tshirt shop (formally called Ferreira Leather) in Candolim, Sotohaus is an interesting place. Its swiss owners style their furniture, mirrors and lamps with natural leaves and mdf board. There seemed to be two main colours for all their products – one was dominated by beige so suited to most colour themes and another had a vibrant combination of magenta, orange and beige. The furniture pieces gave the apprearance of being long-lasting with its board and black metal look. They were priced high but not exorbitant. I’d like to consider their vibrant table @ Rs16,000 as it’d make a statement without even any objects on it. Then again, I could save Rs10,000 and buy a Fabindia table that would meet its intended purpose. Will think about that one further!
Elegante Interiors in Porvorim (Near O’Coqueiro) and St. Inez (Near PWD office)
Another place mentioned by Max as one with potential, the Porvorim branch was useful to visit as it turned out to be a Godrej dealer. Not that we were keen on Godrej steel almirahs, it was just useful to know them as dealers for any Godrej wooden furniture we wanted to order. They didn’t have much stock but were willing to take orders based on their catalogue. Their staff was friendly, and some non-Godrej furniture items of their own manufacturing seemed to carry a honest price tag – esp a rocking chair @ Rs6,000. Most other furniture was staid but we were happy to have got to it from a new route discovered via Mapusa, so were generally happy to know about it!
Sangolda and Saudadesh on Chogm Road
Sangolda was mentioned by Anna Sharma who’s from Goa and settled in Gurgaon. She’d referred to it as a foreign tourist oriented furniture store and that’s how it appeared. Interesting for its multiheaded Hanuman sculpture but not for usable furniture. It felt like a Crafts Museum gallery with large urns and pieces that looked comfortable where they were.
The next door Saudadesh, however, had usable furniture ideas but not at their advertised prices. The encouraging aspect of this place though was that it had the Attic kind of old furniture but all of it was polished, buyable (when not carrying a ‘sold’ tag) and quaint in its look.
Damien de Goa in Porvorim
At an early stage of our survey, it was useful to scan this store. Its USP of providing a complete solution to its customers is good to be aware of — its ground floor displays appliances and upper concentrates on furniture. But like other readymade furniture stores, Damien also mostly stocks imported beds, wardrobes and tables, and little of their own making. Prices of these imported products are high and even though they are well-finished, they look way too canned. They’re also large for apartments.
Casa Goa on Baga Road
This place is nice to breeze through to take in its kerala rattan loungers and small artefacts. Prices are high but the place is accessible and worth a visit.
Antique furniture dealers by road side
Several small shops appeared on our drives to Mapusa, Calangute, South Goa that showed largely unclean chairs and study tables but also a couple of polished pieces to give hope to passers by. Their designs and range used to be similar and prices high – loungers Rs8,000 upwards.
One on Candolim called Indo Portuguese always showed off a tantalising rattan chair or bench but with prices like above.
If I must pick up a piece or two from one of them, I’d prefer the place in the Mapusa Sub-Registrar building that has had the largest collection to its credit. Their cupboards had fussy mirrors and tiles, but there was one with a quieter feel @ Rs15,000. Its shelves didn’t appear well-finished so we’d dropped its idea. We’ve seen worse cupboards for double that price since then so have built some respect for the Mapusa shop. We may go there for another look.
Goa Cane Corporation, Fatorda, Margao
I’d understood this place to have rattan cane products. It turned out to have Panchkuian Road sort of fat cane at rather fat price tags. It was useful to visit it for its array of baskets but little else.
The Living Room and other shops in St. Inez
The quality and style of furniture at the Living Room belie its reputation among people and certainly its slick website. This store and most others in St. Inez give a weary feeling much like one experiences with Kirti Nagar shops in Delhi.
Locally made furniture in Mapusa Friday market
A couple of guys were selling orange polished tables and stools but they clearly looked like bad wood. I’d be keen to see more locally made pieces with better wood. Our neighbour mentioned feasts as the best time to see the local produce of most kind – would look out for one such feast for more reasons than one.
The ones that remain unseen on my list are Crystal in Verna and Fusion Access in Panjim. If anyone is able to add any more names for us to scan, please do write in.