Beautiful Liberation

Bespoke luxury furnishings maison ANCA has been one of the leading creators of elegant yet functional furniture pieces in India  since the 1980s. We speak to its founder and creative head Anjali Goel about her brand’s transformation today with cutting-edge technology and talent, the architecture and historic genres that inspire her, and her latest line that is opulent yet chic, one that fuses modernity into the classics and liberates it from its constrictions.

Detail of part of sectional sofa by ANCA

LI: Can you tell me a bit about your own journey into design?

Anjali Goel: From the time I realized I wanted to be someone or do something, it was always design. I trained as a fashion designer and found a lot of success initially, before embarking on my career in Interior Design. I began by doing up my father’s office and my home. Interior Design started as a hobby and I never realized that it would become the fulcrum of my existence. We at ANCA specialize in Product Design – creating Furniture Collections that are recognized and specified globally by leading architects. We are an extension of their design house for all FF&E requirements.

Anjali Goel is the founder and creative head of ANCA

How has it been spearheading such a mammoth design maison for over 30 years, with big international clients, and what has changed in the world of interiors from the 80s vis-à-vis now, the 2020s?

From a hobby to a business and later to this – leading a large bespoke manufacturing space of 200,000 sq ft which works internationally today – success has always been a huge motivation for me. Making India proud was another great motivating factor, where the country is recognized in the world of design. It has been 35 years and we are working nationally and internationally. I can proudly say that we are handling some of the largest and most prestigious projects in the world, requiring a huge amount of talent, skill, and technology. In the 1980s it was only skill-based and design-centric, as we did not have much technical know-how. Also, fewer materials were available. Today, it’s all about customization. We at ANCA have developed a world-class in-house production unit – upgraded and perfected over three decades.

Armchair with poof by ANCA

What is the design aesthetic you are most drawn to and why?

The design aesthetic that I am most drawn to is detailing. I believe God is in the details and I always look back in time for inspiration in order to move forward. So what really inspires me are monuments, palaces, and historic architecture, variations of design and eras coming from different parts of the world. I love reading up about them, just as I love studying our temples, and Indian architecture. Detailing and a large variety of materials form part of my design aesthetic and these are my brand’s USP.

What continues to inspire you in your work?

As I had mentioned earlier, I believe that I was born to design. I feel most at ease in creative spaces. My love for the field coupled with global innovation in design and the great work that people across the world are doing, continue to inspire me every day. The younger generation too teaches us new things and inspires me to push my boundaries every day. For 35 years, this has been my driving force and has been key to anchoring ANCA to the position it is at today.

LIBRE - bespoke upholstered bed designed by ANCA

Your collections are opulent – which classical and artistic styles are you most drawn to? For example, you have done a Rococo collection, and one inspired by Renoir…

Yes, we have some beautiful classical and rich collections that cater to our Middle-Eastern Palaces, and mansions across the world. But we are not single-faceted, we have an equally strong contemporary look. Our contemporary collections are actually more popular amongst the current design houses, as that suits their sense of sensibility.

LIBRE - Onyx wrap dining table with overlay and clear glass top, upholstered dining chair with wooden legs, and stone cladded buffet cabinet with faux leather internals

And could you tell us about your current collection Libre?

In 2020, ANCA launched its latest collection called ‘Libre’. It’s a modern collection for contemporary living. The collection is about modernism – liberation from a traditional and conventional way of living. This collection features an ambience of the most relaxed mood where the impact created is neither ostentatious nor extravagant. The design trend is a classy statement in a very fine-drawn and elusive way. The materials used in the collection are very unusual and new. The colour palette constitutes deep muted tones and a subtle colour scheme.

How do you approach a client’s project – is it a complete bespoke project – where you do the entire space? Do you work with their tastes in mind too?

We at ANCA believe in creating custom pieces that fulfil individual tastes and desires. Our pieces are characterized by an inimitable blend of detailing, an innovative use of materials and unique personalization – crafted with uncompromising standards of quality and excellence. We take up complete projects consisting of bespoke furniture, cabinets, panelling, wardrobes, doors, and boiserie, as well as soft furnishings. A home should reflect the taste and personality of the individual. We always keep in mind the taste and preference of our clients and they are the ones who take final call on the design element they want for their homes.

LIBRE - Upholstered in rich fabric with pleated quilting details, the sofa is a perfect example of traditional techniques and innovative designs

The finished look is very complete – everything relates to one another – from colour combos to matching styles – do you find that the key to successful luxury design is a mix of different styles?

I believe that is what makes all the difference – putting together a complete look. It can be achieved by coordinating the wall effects, soft furnishings, and other accessories in an organized way. A blend of modern details with historic craftsmanship gives a unique feel and look to the space.

LIBRE - A beautifully designed bar with designer glass and lacquer front with an onyx top

What are some of your favourite materials, colour themes, and textures?

ANCA is all about bespoke creations and we like to work with elements combining wood, metal, glass, and an amalgamation of other exotic materials to create distinguished furniture pieces that are Rare Expressions of Luxury Living. We at ANCA believe in really curating a new way of living for our clients with integrated facility manufacturing furniture and soft furnishings – such as curtains, cushions, bed linen, and robes. I believe that homes today are all about style and elevated living.

Who is a typical ANCA customer?

A large network of private clients who have lived with ANCA furniture for decades are repeat clients for their new homes, or renovations or their international holiday homes. Additionally, leading design houses in India, Dubai, and Europe continually specify and patronize our products and services. We are very proud of our associations and designers. And we aim to work as an extension of their design practice by giving them continuous support in things like sampling new materials, for them to create unique projects for their clients.

We are also expanding our base via our franchise model, with keen interest from Tier 2 cities and alternative countries that have not been on our radar, and we are positive about increasing our global footprint through them.

LIBRE - Handcrafted leather dressing table and chair

What are the big design trends for 2021 – as the home becomes more and more important?

The latest design trend for 2021 is Neo-Classical, where modernism and minimalism have given way to a softer, more classical look with a focus on wall design, inlays, and decorative floors. Lighting has become the most important thing while designing luxury homes today. Luxury homes that were once considered an aspirational ‘want’ are now emerging as a ‘need’. Investing in high-quality global or Indian art – paintings or sculptures - is a huge trend. Luxury homes now are not just about aesthetic – they are about amenities and increasing functionality. Aesthetics-wise, the trend has moved more towards simpler designs complemented with dramatic art pieces.

How many people work at ANCA – at the factory and at the design studio, and where do you source the materials from, broadly? (wood, fabric)

Powering the engines at our state-of-the-art ANCA manufacturing factory sprawling across 250,000 square feet, are over 1,500 skilled artisans and craftsmen rich in experience in creating bespoke masterpieces using an array of materials, exotic and experimental, from around the globe.

You are a regular participant of the Milan Design Fair – do you think the future is in physical or virtual fairs?

The year 2020 saw a massive shift of offline events coming onto digital portals. For decades, we have been regular participants in fairs and exhibitions worldwide, such as the prestigious Salone Del Mobile in Milan, Downtown Design in Dubai and most recently, the virtual fair for India Design ID 2021, to name a few.

Even though the online versions do provide a broader reach, I believe that the in-person interactions have their own kind of charm. Especially in the field of design, the quality of a product can only be judged by the look, feel, and touch of it, which is unfortunately not possible virtually. Just like the garment industry, wherein the quality of a cloth cannot be judged and understood online, the look and feel of the interiors cannot be felt through video conferencing.


Priya Kumari Rana

Lifestyle Insider is a kind of junction point, connecting people with diverse interests that touch on the more luxurious aspects of lifestyle – fashion, design, travel, food and spirits, art, watches and jewellery, cars, yachts, and aviation, and technology. People today don’t fit into boxes and categories. In our individual ways, we are interested in diverse themes, products, and the challenges that face our world today. You will judge how well this effort of mine caters to your passions and proclivities.

Lifestyle Insider is a showcase of all that is beautiful and luxe. Behind every creation, is a designer, chef, entrepreneur, or a design maison. I have delved into my own appreciation for objetsde luxe that I have admired over the years – be it a love of fashion from the world’s top Parisian and Italian fashion maisons and their ’90s muses, or the care that goes into sari and Indian textile collections in my own family. Growing up on four continents, as the daughter of a former Indian Ambassador, I’ve seen a remarkable array of historic places and met a myriad people. My aim is to bring my world view into this website, a curation of what I find particularly stunning, unique, and newsworthy.

It’s an exciting time for brands all over the world. With change comes opportunity. With the global ‘reset’ and uncertainty on many fronts, there is a chance to write a new script. Let’s be those pioneers.

A bit about me:
A luxury and fashion journalist with 25 years of experience in publishing and magazine journalism, I have edited some of India’s top fashion and luxury magazines. I got my BA in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley, and went on to receive my Master’s in English and French from the University of Strasbourg, France. I have also studied German and Film. I live in Gurugram, India, and look forward to once again exploring our world with a new-found freedom.

Priya Kumari Rana

Founder and Editor

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