In the 1930s, upper-class residents of Bombay were bombarded with ideas and products intended to make their homes modern. Showrooms, exhibitions, advertisements, and design books all addressed a consuming public newly interested in “the art and comfort of the home.” As Abigail McGowan demonstrates in Domestic Modern: Redecorating Homes in Bombay in the 1930s, attempts to remake Indian homes were hardly new; from the late nineteenth century on, sanitary reformers, girls’ educators, and urban planners introduced new principles of home management and hygiene into domestic space. In 1930s Bombay, attention shifted from household practices to style—a distinctively modern look expressed through new architectural spaces and the latest consumer goods. Recent scholarship has explored new building styles and practices in interwar India; McGowan argues that new kinds of furnishings and decor were equally important in defining what “the modern” meant in the city in this period.

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