Modern usages of the grand piano in interior design
Using musical instruments as a part of your home décor is something that gives life to your personal space. In the case of a grand piano, it can become your emblem of pride amongst your guests as it was an accessory reserved for aristocrats in the past centuries. It is said that a famous pianist from the Newar community was punished severely during the Rana regime for enchanting the mistresses in a royal residence with his musical skills on a grand piano. Though the exact date, residence, the aristocratic punisher and the particular musical instrument still remains a mystery, rumors has it that he was from Ason in central Kathmandu. That is an indication that the ‘king of musical instruments’ (i.e. a common phrase used to describe the grand piano) was introduced to Nepal during the Rana regime as an artistic décor prop in the royal courts.
Artistic remnants of that era still resonate in five star hotels such as Hotel Shangri-la. The grand piano that sits in one of the prominent locations of the hotel might suggest a history of its own: probably an enchanting one for sure! But for the followers of formalism, the size and space occupied by the musical instrument is what really counts.
Indeed, the grand piano’s physical dimension is something that cannot be denied easily since it is probably the biggest musical instrument amongst all the intruments in the world. This is also one of the main reasons for its ‘loud’ significance when it comes to terminologies associated with interior designing.
"Usually, the grand piano is kept in open spaces such as party halls and lobbies in the case of five star hotels due to its notable presence", says Zuna Bhattarai,an interior designer who represents Craftman Pvt. Ltd. in Lazimpat. According to her, another reason for the piano to be a probable candidate in such a setup is its musical aspect that offers entertainment to those who love its music and of course the musicians who would be playing it. ‘If we look at it in that way, then we can imagine how people in the past used to get entertained by its music in a social gathering,’ adds Bhattarai.
When it comes to music, veteran pianist and senior music teacher of Nepal Sangeet Vidyalaya, Upendra Lal Singh-says, "A grand piano is a very honored and respected musical instrument that should not be taken as a mere object of décor." True to his claim, Singh adds, "Most of the interior designers and owners of pianos in the local context do not see the authenticity of the instrument and keep it in a very poor condition just for the sake displaying something that catches your eye."
Sad but true, there are many instances where we can see the pianos kept in very poor conditions even though they are supposed to be classic masterpieces that would otherwise be sold for millions had they been auctioned in countries that hold it as a highly regarded musical instrument. "I have even heard of someone using a grand piano as a bed, which is quite disgraceful," says Singh. His expressions during this statement proved that his love for the piano goes way beyond the ordinary notion of someone who regards it as just a piece of wood and metal. This is certainly not the way to treat an important musical instrument, especially for designing a room or as a hall’s décor!
When you do set up the grand piano as a décor for your venue, then the color and prop combinations must comply with the instrument at the same time. To this, Bhattarai remarks by saying, "Usually the color of the grand piano is black, hence the props and the color combinations in its surroundings should be prominent or loud in that sense." Hence, it is also better to put up some expensive or at least some rare props along with the instrument. "In addition, the instrument is a symbol of music of the highest degree or class, hence its importance is still royal in that sense", adds Zuna.
Often kept in an interior setup, the grand piano will last for centuries due to its physical durability. But there is a saying: the bigger they are, the harder they fall. The disadvantage in this case is that it needs to be protected from the weather, as it gets quite difficult to mend if it is damaged. "A piano should be kept away from direct sunlight as well as away from notably cold corners of a room or a hall", says Upendra. According to Bhattarai too, it is far better to complement the instrument with indoor lights or in other cases, be protected from direct sunlight with the use of translucent glasses on the windows.
‘The use of a grand piano as a décor prop is still rare in Nepal as it was in the past as only a few could afford them,’ says Zuna. But with time, the situation has changed as you can also get to buy cheaper uprights and grand pianos at selective local stores in the valley. If you are really thinking of buying one, then Sunny Music-located in the ground floor of Bluebird Departmental complex –in Thapathali is an ideal place to check out. "We have a range of upright and grand pianos that are either made from wood, metal or synthetic materials that vary according to the budget of the clients," says Samir Shakya-senior executive of the music showroom.
Be it a classic model or a regular upright, be one of the few amongst the many connoisseurs of décor in Nepal by setting up the instrument at your desired location. Your expenditure on a piano is something that you will not regret, as it has a tendency to carry a history of its own.