Bharat Flooring Tiles: Paving The Way

Bharat Floorings & Tiles has setup an exhibition at Chatterjee & Lal, Mumbai, where they  draw out a hitherto untold story from the annals of Indian design and enterprise. Through historical research from diverse sources, documentation of unique projects, and rare archival exhibits, this exhibition brings out the history of Bharat Floorings and Tiles (BFT).

Nearly a century ago, Bharat Floorings and Tiles set up a factory in Uran, near Mumbai, to manufacture handmade, artisanal cement tiles for a burgeoning Indian market. They started, faltered, learnt, grew in size and repertoire, to turn into the silent behemoth we see today. The exhibition chronicles this story of a homegrown enterprise, and how it moulded itself to reflect changing tastes and trends of the times.

BFT’s milestones form the five major modules of this exhibition – Tapestry in Cement, The ‘Moderne’ Home, Commercial Elegance, Floors To Your Taste and Heritage Renaissance.

The modules dive into the different ‘genres’ of design that BFT has lent floors to. Starting at ‘Tapestry in Cement’ which tells of a time when BFT produced patterned tiles to stop Minton-style imports for economic freedom and growth. They were quick to respond to the growing Art Deco influence, whilst decking ‘The Moderne Home’. In ‘Commercial Elegance’, one can see how BFT’s offerings reflected a shift to sophisticated marble as Mumbai, then Bombay, came into its own as the country’s financial capital. This heavily contrasted with the exquisite and personalized floor murals created for the ubiquitous Bombay bungalow, as seen in ‘Floors to your Taste’ module. Most recently, in a revival of its Heritage products, the company has been collaborating with conservation architects to restore floors in iconic structures. BFT is thus privileged to showcase the recent restoration work done at the Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue in ‘Heritage Renaissance’.

Each genre is represented by a 3D printed façade wireframes of an iconic building and the tile patterns therein, and an actual sample tile brought out from the BFT archive. Also peppered through this chronological narrative are rare finds from the Archives of Bharat Floorings and Tiles that add a unique flavour to our exhibition. Pages from the personal diary of the founder, tell us of the unchanging nature of entrepreneurship; pages from the Production and Sales register give minute details about the running of the tiling business circa 1937 down to the sand purchased that year! Vintage photographs, advertorials and an evocative poem by a founding family member, inspired by the tiles in her childhood bedroom add a unique flavour to our exhibition. The exhibition also incorporates hitherto, unseen material from the HSBC Archives in London and a unique tile documentation project undertaken in Karachi that reflects the inspiration behind the founding of BFT.

Paving the Way is an intersection of the design story and business history, through which we hope to enthral architects, designers, history enthusiasts and Mumbai dwellers who wish to gain a more nuanced understanding of the world they walk into.

Exhibition Venue: Chatterjee & Lal

Exhibition Dates: 8th – 11th May 2019

Ancillary Events


Saturday, May 11, 9 – 11 am

Free and open to all

RSVP Mandatory due to limited participation

Join them on a special walk through the fort area as they trace the still tangible histories of tile making, trade and design in late colonial Bombay! The walk, which encourages to look down for a change, is inspired by the exhibition, Paving the Way on view at Chatterjee and Lal from May 8 – 11. Curated using rare archival material, Paving the Way celebrates the legacy of Bharat Floorings and Tiles since 1922, and aims to build a public conversation around the historic floors they continue to walk on everyday. A walk to iconic buildings and locations within the Fort heritage precinct will be followed by a visit to the exhibition.


Saturday, May 11, 5 – 7 pm

Free and open to all

RSVP Mandatory due to limited seats

The event will conclude on the 4th day of the exhibition – Paving The Way, with a panel discussion, by inviting the customers to a conversation between Mustansir Dalvi and Abigail McGowan, moderated by Sidharth Bhatia, as they deconstruct the world of choices before a potential homeowner, a century ago.  Join us as we use the BFT tile as a stepping stone to enter a wider world of heritage – built upon these floors. Paving The Way chronicles the story of tiles and floors, and now our panel will contextualise this with the advances in the wider world of Indian construction and interior decor. Architectural developments, construction technology and urban planning drove the changes in 20th century Bombay’s cityscape. Stone, once the choice of builders was pushed out of fashion with the invention of Reinforced Concrete Cement. This was accompanied by bustling home building activity under the ambit of the Bombay Improvement Trust.  These developments were complemented by trends – some Global, some Swadeshi. Carpets, grills and even elevators were subject to the whims of the reigning fashion. Swadeshi styles apart, uniquely Indian notions of family, privacy and daily living would inform the design of the ‘Indian Home’. 

Bharat Floorings & Tiles (Mumbai) Pvt. Ltd




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