We’re no strangers to the revival of heritage American brands, but what about revisiting cool gear from the heyday of the British Empire? An under-explored category, indeed. On a recent trip to Elephant Pepper Camp in Kenya’s Mara North Conservancy, we slept, dined, drank and chewed the fat in tents furnished handsomely by J&R Guram, a throwback campaign furniture and accessories outfit based in India.
Think of campaign furniture as a more elegant version of the folding chairs, stools and cots you’d pick up at REI for a leisurely weekend in the woods. In the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, it was commonly carried by administrators and armies of the British Empire in the Indian subcontinent and beyond. Renowned houses like Chippendale, Hepplewhite and Sheraton made high quality furniture that was suitable for an aristocrat’s home but could easily be knocked down — in fact, it’s sometimes called “knock-down” furniture — and transported when it was time to move camp.
Like Imperialism, this style of furniture has mostly gone of style. But Jeet and Raj Guram have taken at stab at reviving it with an elegant variety of knock-down chairs, tables, desks and other tent furniture and equipage — all of it made with rosewood, canvas, buffalo hide and equestrian-quality brass. If you’re starting an empire (or family), this could be your game. Just don’t forget the Nainital Safari Bar. Not unless you’re keen to rough it, sir.