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Wednesday, Oct 16, 2019

Five stunning collectibles from Delhi’s new museum of beautiful stuff

Eclectic is the best way to describe El Garbo, the house of quirk and design

brunch Updated: Dec 23, 2017 22:46 IST
Veenu Singh
Veenu Singh
Hindustan Times
(Hemant Khandelwal)

Museums, we all know, tend to focus on particular things. History, perhaps, or art, or natural history, or even toilet seats, as seen at Delhi’s International Museum of Toilets. The museums set up by private collectors are even more specific, focused on coins, say, or vintage cars, or Bollywood posters, or matchboxes.

Which is why it’s such a delight to step into El Garbo, a new museum in Jangpura, Delhi, that has an eclectic collection of things on display, ranging from Rolls Royce models converted into table tops, to dining tables that double up as pool tables, to a cello that can be used to store things, to huge sculptures that will make you gasp with their fine detailing.

The idea behind El Garbo is to showcase the fact that you don’t need to study art to understand its nuances. Your passion is more than enough for that. That’s what entrepreneur Monu Bali, who grew up in an artistic environment, but has no formal training in art himself, has set out o prove.

El Garbo, a Spanish phrase that literally means ‘to do something with grace and ease or with style,’ is the result of Bali’s many years of collecting and commissioning art from all over the country. The museum showcases 18 different categories of things that range from the breathtaking to the inspiring to the simply wow.

Here are eight things to check out if you should ever visit El Garbo – each one handmade and available only in limited editions.

The Rolls-Royce 1904


A handcrafted recreation of the ultimate in cars, complete with a hint of history and a nuance of nostalgia. The Rolls-Royce 10hp was the first car produced as a result of an agreement between Charles Rolls and Henry Royce, and branded as a Rolls-Royce. Only four Rolls-Royce 10hp cars were produced by Royce’s company, Royce Ltd, at his factory on Cooke street, Manchester, England.

Rolls-Royce Office Desk


Even if you can’t afford an actual Rolls-Royce, you can ensure you’re always close to one with this desk modelled on the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow, a luxury car produced in the UK in various versions from 1965 to 1980. It was the first Rolls-Royce to use unitary body and chassis construction in response to concerns that the company was falling behind in automotive innovation. The Silver Spirit was a subtle follow up in 1980. This desk uses the authentic Rolls-Royce design.

The Skull


Made of over 4,50,000 hand-positioned stainless steel beads, this is an incredible piece of art. The precision and effort that went into it is inspiring, and certainly not for the faint-hearted. “The man who made this didn’t want to look at another bead for the next six months,” laughs Bali.

Elizabeth Tower


A stunning handmade rug based on a photograph of the bell (known to us around the world as Big Ben) housed within the Elizabeth Tower at London’s Palace of Westminster (Parliament). “Alex, our photographer, stood under the bell and thought the angle was just perfect as he focused his camera and took this shot, which has been adapted into a grayscale wall hanging rug totally made on wooden looms,” explains Bali.



Full of life and energy, the sculpture depicts Gaia, the mother earth, hurling planet earth around in perpetual motion. This powerful, forceful, and intricately detailed image is meant to remind us of the power of the unimagined.

The Seeker


All of us are looking for something or the other in our lives – love, peace, success. This sculpture of a man walking with his head bent and holding a bag in his hand is set against the backdrop of the sea. The middle of the man is missing; his shoulders and head are joined with the hips via a hand holding the bag. “We possess our own personal time machines. Some take us back – we call these memories. Some take us forward. We call them our dreams. We view our seeker through his grain, in his quest to attain freedom from [living in] vain,” says Bali.

The Crystal Skulls


Imagine 13 vodka bottles studded with Swarovskis and shaped into the faces of superheroes like Spiderman, Batman, and the Hulk. “The eccentricity of the crystal-head skull collection is embodied in the legend that, at a pivotal time in the future, the 13 crystal skulls will reunite to awaken a new era,” says Bali.



What looks like a gorgeously detailed giant photograph of a broken ship is actually a watercolour painting by artist Gautam Dey. “Gautam is an immensely talented artist who has mastered the medium of water colour,” says Bali. “The hide and seek of light and shadows and interplay of colours play a big part in his paintings.”

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From HT Brunch, December 24, 2017

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First Published: Dec 23, 2017 22:46 IST

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