When keepsakes become priceless, their upkeep becomes pricey. Priyank and Paritosh Mehta, the founders of Trunks Company, and Livio Delesgues, its chief designer, understood this when they launched their design studio in Jaipur. Three years since, they’ve created bespoke luxury trunks that can house everything from expensive mechanical watches to tiaras to rifles and swords.
The half-Italian, half-French Delesgues grew up “in the streets of Paris and exploring the beauty of Europe”. With a Masters in product and interior design from AcadémieCharpentier, Paris, he eventually wound up in Bangalore, until “the wheels of destiny set in motion, and I happened to meet my co-founders, Priyank and Paritosh Mehta”. His first creation is still Trunks Company’s best-selling one: the bar trunk, which can hold crystal glasses, a built-in ice bucket, bar tools and a dozen or so bottles.
When the trio started out, they decided they would collate only the best raw materials in the world. So, the leather is sourced from Italy and France and the locks from Germany and Brazil. The craftsmanship is all Indian, with each trunk taking about 400 hours to make. They get almost one enquiry a day, with 50 per cent converting into orders. With a price range of Rs 5 to 15 lakhs, each trunk is also customised to the client’s needs. “It’s our pride and honour to have been able to handcraft some very distinctive trunks,” says Paritosh Mehta. In this spirit, they’ve created trunks for poker sets, golf trunks, a turban trunk, a music trunk with built-in speakers, woofers, USB ports and an iPod dock, and “a sword trunk that was presented to a royal groom by the bride’s family during the wedding ceremony”.
While some of their trunks are quite breathtaking, others are like glorified boxes. The safe trunk, for example, looks like a classed-up version of a bank locker, and the pink dressing trunk looks like a grown-up version of Barbie’s cupboard. Delesgues is particularly proud of two trunks. “The most challenging aspect in the music trunk was the acoustic installation, which had to be just perfect in order to achieve clarity of sound.
Eventually, the design came out to be a real delight, both in appearance and functionality,” he says. The music trunk, with its powder-blue interiors, is also the most pimped out of the lot. “The watch collector’s trunk was also an interesting discovery. The watch winders and the intricate designing of its individual parts was a challenge,” he says.
Trunks Company has retail partners in five cities in India. The only place they sell in Mumbai is in Pinakin, celebrity architect Pinakin Patel’s Lower Parel store. Pinakin’s chief executive officer, Piyush Raj, met Trunks Company’s owners at an ACE Exhibition in Mumbai and, today, stocks practically every trunk by the studio. “We liked their style, the finish and the design element in their products, which fits the aesthetics of our store,” says Raj. “But, what sets their trunks apart is the technology — from the moveable bar trunk with rechargeable LED lights that function on sensors to the dressing trunk that has outlets for hair dryers to the cabinet bar trunk fitted with a fridge and a wine cellar.”
Much like the slice of vintage they sell, the Mehtas are also an old-fashioned lot. They’re uncomfortable with talk of money, choosing to defer questions on it. And, it would be easier to get ivory sellers to reveal their clients’ identities than these two. Reportedly, actor Ranbir Kapoor owns the bar trunk and director Karan Johar has a made-to-order one for his personal effects. The rest can be best guessed as a mix of the royal and the eccentric, sometimes, as the same person.
Trunks Company caters to the homeowner whose house is more like a museum — showy rather than lived-in. But, as Freud had once written about the things that clutter our homes, such as armchairs and artificial flowers, “Are we to hang our hearts on such little things? Yes, and without hesitation.”