The works of product designers and labels that caught the connoisseur’s fancy this year by blending art, usage and great design.
The best thing about art and design is perhaps the freedom the discipline enjoys in matters of interpretation. All over the world there are designers who have been creating products that blur the line between art and functionality. A product needn’t necessarily look a certain way, and follow stereotypes. The creative flight of a designer gives it that innovation so that it becomes almost a piece of art. The avenue for artistic expression has widened and how.
There are generally three responses to a piece of design. Yes, no, and Wow. We take a look at some of designs in home décor products this year that were breathtakingly beautiful and merged the realms of functionality and art.
Wooden furniture never looked this good. Following no style or pattern, Delhi-based Aakriti Kumar’s sustainably designed range of furniture focuses on blending the sculptural aspect of art with the functional sensibility of design. She retains the original look of wood with all the bark details that is noticeable from under the veneer. A rustic yet contemporary feel makes her designs so covetable. Aakriti has been fascinated with the endless possibilities that wood as a material has to offer, a fire kindled by her time at Parsons. Her furniture uses reclaimed material, salvaged wood, non-toxic finishes, designed with an element of zero waste. Her conscious effort is to reduce the environmental footprint of her creations. Given that wood is the central element around which her designs revolve, Aakriti’s designs are heavily inspired by nature. Notice her Topographic coffee table inspired by terrace farming, and the accentuation of the natural patterns of the wood and it’s rings. For the most part, her design process takes her back and forth ideating through sketching and 3D modeling on the computer, while other designs occur to her by looking at the actual shape and curvature of the raw material.
Suneet Varma for Arttdinox
Much like the beautiful clothes he crafts, couturier Suneet Varma has unleashed his superlative aesthetics in his new collection of accessories for Arttdinox. Inspired by the beautiful fauna and magical elements of a dreamy enchanted forest, the designs focus on twigs, elusive dragon flies and floral elements, making the products veritable showpieces. The pieces are veritable artworks for being so delicately engraved (we heart the gossamer dragonfly and the fragile petals depicted through steel and wood) and burnished with the red.
Says Varma, “Much like my couture, I wanted the home collection to delve on the mystique with elements of surprise and enchantment. I don’t steer far from the DNA of my design philosophy. For my clothes, I retain a sense of dreamy and magical opulence, laced by the aura of seduction. This permeates into the home designs as well. It’s also been true for my design collaborations with Swarovski for jewellery and Judith Leiber for clutches.”
The new line for the premium stainless-steel brand, comprises stainless condiment servers, ice buckets with wooden lids, two and three-tiered cake platters and candelabras. “Even though it is the most durable material, stainless steel is also a very hard material to work with. It is widely used in making utensils, for construction in architecture and other industries. This is my way of paying homage to it and elevate it to a luxurious spot by marrying it with cast brass and other gem stones. It’s not an easy process but an exciting one.”
What else is design but a method of alchemy to transform the mundane into something beautiful and rare. No one knows that better than Vikram Goyal who has been conjuring up flamboyant home décor collectibles using the indigenous artistry of India. Take a look at his products, made using the best of Indian craftsmanship, you’ll gauge how great design can elevate a mere table or a console to resemble fabulous art. “My aim is to work with skilled metal artisans to bring our ‘India Modern’ designs to life. Nowhere in the world will you find such mastery in workmanship as in India. The idea is to take something native and give it a deft and edgy finish so that it reaches a wider audience,” says Vikram whose award-winning designs find themselves in beautiful homes in Manhattan as well as India.
A malachite table inlayed with brass catches our eye. Its uniqueness lies in the combination of brass, a much-favoured metal at Viya Home (Vikram’s brand) for its burnished and versatile character, and malachite, a semi-precious stone (they also use lapiz lazuli, tiger eye and amethyst), as against marble, which is oft-repeated by many designers. “The materials are Indian but the designs and execution have international appeal. For the first few years, our design forms were modern interpretations of traditional Indian art and architectural elements — the lotus, finials, domes and herringbone patterns. As our markets grew and developed internationally, we maintained our ‘Indian-ness’ more in terms of artisanship and material than forms and patterns. We became decidedly India-agnostic and started drawing inspiration from different artistic references such as art deco, art nouveau, modernism and brutalism. Now, we work with more abstract works.”He points out how pieces like the Stalactite Console (a brass console beaten to look like stalactite formations) or the Persepolis Wall Sconce stand out for their global appeal.
Kalyani Saha Chawla for Rezon
Silver, considered an auspicious metal in India, is the hero at Rezon, which comprises 200 pieces of home décor items, religious and other accessories for corporate gifting and weddings. Marrying age-old techniques of hand-beating sheets of silver, etching, chasing, engraving and enamelling, the items are unique, offbeat and completely hand-crafted. Organic shapes like lotus, leaves, bugs and insects come alive in the collection giving the products a very artistic flavour. A dramatic cluster of blooming lotuses and leaves catches attention. This piece is part of the Lotus collection, comprising candle-stands, centrepieces, table lamps and vertical floor decorative pieces, which was inspired by an antique diya from the 19th century.
The Secret Garden collection, full of photo frames, decorative boxes and bowls, is an ode to flowers, pretty insects, branches and lilies and features rose quartz, lapis and jade for that luxurious touch. The tri-colour collection combines silver, rose-gold and gold in candelabras, platters and serving trays. The vibe is fun and peppy in the Retro collection where pop colours are enamelled on the silver boxes. There is something for everyone at Rezon and it is this variety that has become a strong point feels Chawla.
Since launching Wrap Art & Design in 2006, Gunjan Gupta has advocated for India’s handmade and craft industries through her own practice, and strived to reposition the idea of “Made in India” as a luxury standard on a global scale. Her designs are luxurious but extremely offbeat and piques the interest of any connoisseur with a yen for interesting design. Chairs that come with bundled mattresses, sustainable products beaten to form offbeat shapes, her efforts in creating home furniture and accessories have earned her several awards, including the British Council’s Young Creative Entrepreneur award in 2007. In 2012, she was named Designer of the Year by Elle Décor as well as being included in Fortune Magazine’s five names to watch in luxury. Her products have also travelled to the Venice Architecture Biennale.
Wrap is committed to sustainable materials and principles as well as high-end handicraft. The studio works with traditional craft communities in India to develop a range of contemporary furniture and accessories. Its name is inspired by the concept that wrapping any item imbues it with a new identity and set of values.
Prateek Jain and Gautam Seth, Klove Studio
Prateek and Gautam started by making small accessories for luxurious homes. Great reviews resulted in them designing light installations for those with a yen for stunning interiors. Their work sells in Dubai, Paris, London and New York. Klove is also a permanent fixture at the Maison & Objet Fair in Paris.The boys draw inspiration from their travels. Like in Turkey, their creativity was piqued by the exquisite architecture of the monuments and minarets. From Greece, they brought back vignettes of the countryside and nature to use in their work. Ladakh’s awe-inspiring landscape and Vietnam’s topography resulted in jaw-dropping artistry in their works.In 2016, the designers travelled to Scandinavia and came back overawed by the form and function of the designs they witnessed there. Since then, Klove’s collections have focused on ‘Mid Century Modern and Nordic’ as an ode to designers from that region. This year they have delved deeper to transcend from product design into pure conceptual installation design to bring alive a new dimension in their exploration of light and form.Just back from Dubai after participating in the Trade Fair with their last collection Nordic, they are now working on their next set of light installations inspired by the Shamans.
Featured Image : Suneet Varma for Arttdinox